New York City is one of those places that’s high on the list of many travel-lovers, but with so much to see and do there, working out a plan for your trip can be daunting, especially when you’re alone! Here’s some tips on how I managed to make the most of my seven days in this magical city without burning out.
(This post assumes that you’ve already got your flights and accommodation sorted out. Have a read of my review of a great hotel for solo travellers if you need some help).
Decide on your must-dos
Work out what it is that you can’t miss…and really importantly, find out if you need to book tickets in advance. For me, I couldn’t leave New York without having seen the Statue of Liberty, visited the 9/11 memorial, been inside the New York Public Library, and watched a show on Broadway. Tickets to go into the Crown of the Statue sell out months in advance, but even for the Pedestal or just to get over to the island it’s worth booking online before you go as the queues for tickets are massive, as are those for the 9/11 memorial. And if you don’t want to spend a fortune on theatre tickets, or spend hours of your day queuing at the TKT booth in Times Square to get a discounted ticket for whatever show is available, it’s best to buy ahead. Some other attractions are similarly better booked in advance, while others can wait until you’re there. Once you’ve got tickets booked, or decided when you’ll visit your must-dos, you can build the rest of your itinerary around them.
Find out when the free stuff happens
I wrote an article for The Backpacker’s Almanac on doing New York City on a budget, but even if cash isn’t too tight, everyone wants to save money, right? Many of the museums in the city have free entry at certain times; for example, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) is free on Friday evenings, while the Museum of Natural History charges no fees for the final hour of opening every day. If you’re interested in any of these attractions, make sure you slot them in at the appropriate time.
NB: In theory, you can actually pay whatever you like to get into the museums, at any time; however, I don’t know how often people do deviate from the suggested admission prices, and it’s up to you whether you’d feel comfortable doing this – I knew I wouldn’t!
Try to stay local
New York City is massive. I mean, you know that already, but until you’ve been there and taken yourself around on foot or the Subway, you don’t grasp just quite how vast it is! So it makes sense to try to visit attractions in close proximity to each other on the same day, so as not to frazzle yourself zooming around Manhattan. Get a map (one of the fold-out ones from a guidebook is best) and start to group together places, events and activities, creating a plan for what you’ll do on each day. You don’t have to stick to it rigidly, but it will really help you to cover the city sensibly.
Build in some rest time!
By now you should have the makings of a solid itinerary, but don’t forget to be flexible and allow for some rest time. Especially on a short trip, it’s tempting to try to run around and fit everything in, but remember that if tiredness, illness or bad weather hit, you might need to take a break (for me, it was having to go back to my hotel room one afternoon to spend a couple of hours drying out and warming up after getting soaked through to the skin visiting the 9/11 memorial in a torrential rainstorm!). Make sure you can take some time out so that nothing spoils your enjoyment of your trip.
Want to read about what I got up to on my seven-day solo trip to New York City? Check out my post here!