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Never travelled on my own before, hoping to go to New York

Travel Forums North America Never travelled on my own before, hoping to go to New York

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1. Posted by oscarp (Budding Member 2 posts) 7y

Hi all,

This might be better in the America forum but mainly general questions, although my intended trip is New York:

In short: I've never travelled on my own before, left the country (England) a few times as a youngster and once as an adult, but still in Europe.

I've decided I want to go to New York this year. I've found cheap flights for around £300 which apparently include tax. Does this sound reasonable? Am I going to be hit with some other cost other than tax?

I've been looking at Youth Hostels and it seems a week will on average cost me about $300 (£189). I'm aware they won't be 5-star hotels and will be shared dorms but quite happy to stay anywhere.

I've no idea what I want to do there. Generally just wander around completely out of my comfort zone and see a society and people i've never seen before. Go to bars etc. Not really interested in planning it too much.

Would probably just take a backpack with the basics in. I travel light.

Considering i'm just looking to wander round and take the tube to places - and not fussed what i'm doing since every second there, wherever I am or whatever i'm doing, will be completely unique and different for me - does allocating myself $500 for seven days for food and a bit of travel sound at all reasonable?

Sorry this is so vague - i've been browsing around the Internet looking at basic travel info, but wanted to get some human reactions on my new desire to get on a plane and go to New York.. for no reason other than to "just do it".

So anyway, as far as I can work out, this is what it will *hopefully* cost me for a week roughly:

£300 flights (Return, Inc. Tax)
£189 ($300) Youth Hostel
£350 ($500) food and fun

Let me know if i've missed something entirely or if i'm being completely unrealistic about costs.

Also - do I need some sort of visa?

[ Edit: Edited on 22-Jan-2010, at 12:24 by oscarp ]

2. Posted by Daawgon (Travel Guru 1997 posts) 7y

How mature are you? NYC is not the easiest place for a first-timer. You might consider San Francisco instead. I think your budget is too low. Remember that you're expected to tip about 18% in the States at restaurants. You will not see the many tourist services that one sees in Europe here - train stations are not the meccas they are in your country. I think you need to find a reliable companion - seriously!

3. Posted by es_chr14 (Budding Member 26 posts) 6y

Sorry, but that amount is not enough for NYC. And no, you don't need a visa if you're staying 90days or less.

4. Posted by jambo101 (Respected Member 414 posts) 6y

Quoting es_chr14

Sorry, but that amount is not enough for NYC. And no, you don't need a visa if you're staying 90days or less.

I've seen many hostels in the $25 a night range so i think oscarp is within budget for a week in NYC..

5. Posted by boreal2673 (Respected Member 345 posts) 6y

I think you can do it. If you are on a tight budget.

Remember that you're expected to tip about 18% in the States at restaurants.

This is for bars and normal restraunts. You can get away with 15% though. If your on such a tight budget, fast food, pizza, and random takeout places will be your source of food and you dont tip there.
Most Museums like the Natural History museum will have a "suggested fee" for an adult or student. This is "suggested". If an adult is $10 tell them you will give them $5, it is only a donation.
Nice free ride is to take the Staten Island ferry back and forth. Great views of the Statue of Liberty and the city and its free!
The Central Park Zoo- $10 for adults and is a great place for a few hours.
Get an unlimited Metro Card for a week and you wont need to take a taxi. Travel to Brooklyn and Queens for a new experience.

Though New York City is not the easiest solo traveller destination, people are very friendly and you will have no problem meeting others in touristy places, just depends on how out going you are.
Also, dont take it to heart if you ask a local at 8am on Tuesday on the subway how to get somewhere and you get a rough answer, they are just stressed getting to work!

6. Posted by petal77 (Budding Member 4 posts) 6y

Hi oscarp - how exciting! I will be solo in NYC in May but only for 2 nights at the end of my trip. I would just caution that everything will be more expensive than you think, so make sure you add an extra allowance into that budget of yours. My brother also recommends getting a credit card if you don't already have one as a "just in case".

There's plenty to see and do and getting around by subway is pretty easy. For a free experience that will get you out in the fresh air check out: I am looking forward to wandering along this park!

You MUST make sure you have registered with ESTA for a visa waiver before you travel - the process used to be that you filled in your card on the flight before landing, but it's all electronic now. It's free if you go here:

Don't be conned into paying on any other sites, some disreputable websites try and charge!!

Also be aware that if you buy any clothes in NYC there will be a sales tax levied on them. However you can travel out to some malls in New Jersey on the bus where there is no tax applied. I think you can claim any taxes back at the airport but this is no doubt a lengthy process and you need to keep all your receipts.

oooh you'll have a fab time!

7. Posted by d03mm (Budding Member 67 posts) 6y

Hi oscarp,

I thought about doing NY, but its very expensive and I am like you would be on a tight budget. Instead i am thinking of going to India, or inter-railing around Europe. Its alot cheaper. So if you fancy it your more than welcome :)

Post 8 was removed by a moderator
9. Posted by DaveinMD (Respected Member 198 posts) 6y

New York is a place you simply MUST visit. But if you haven't traveled alone before this is may not be the safest place to start out. It's kind of like learning to drive at the Indy 500 (or the Euro equivalent). Especially if you are cruising around with a backpack on you will have a bulls eye on your from all angles. My advice: be on your toes at all times and keep a stash of money/visa etc hidden is a special pouch that can't be lifted.

10. Posted by mm143 (Budding Member 70 posts) 6y

Yes, New York is very expensive! Try subleting someones apartment, that might be cheaper then a hostel? But beware of bed bugs!
I was in NY for 6 weeks by myself. It's completely safe! There is ALWAYS people on the streets of Manhattan at anytime of night, which is why a lot of places are 24 hrs.