Alone in New York, Julien gives you all his tips. 1/2

Getting alone in New York is such an experience… Some will say it’s great, some others will say it’s not. Back in 2011, visiting the Big Apple was my very first trip across the Atlantic by my own and I’ve just renewed the experience. Now, I’m gonna tell you everything about it !

First, let me tell you that you’re never really alone In New York… Not only because of its 60 millions tourists a year but also because the locals – most of them – are very friendly. You can always ask for some help in the subway or advices on the easiest way to get to a specific place. There will always be someone to help you out, which is not always true in some other cities…

How to get there ?

It’s up to you to choose the airline company you like the most but try to book your flight early to enjoy an affordable rate. As the rates certainly change from one country to another, I can only advise you not to jump on the first good deal you’ll see on a flight booking web site. What I do is putting an alert on Google Flight for the trip I’d like to book. Then, I receive the updates by email each time the prices are changing. This time, I flew with Delta Airline for 480€.

If like me you’re landing in JFK, the cheapest way to get to the city is by taking the AirTrain ( after passing the customs control and claiming your luggage). No matter in which terminal you are, take the AirTrain to Howard Beach Station ($5) then take the A Train to Lower Manhattan & Brooklyn. Staying around Williamsburg, it took me 90 min to get there, which is kinda long. From Newark Airport, there is also an AirTrain. Check the maps below to find your way and download the MTA app for iOS and Android.

Click the images to enlarge

I understand that after flying for hours, walking and queueing at the airports, you may not be in mood for another journey by train. So, another way to get to the city is taking a yellow cab to get straight to your hotel. But keep in mind that it’s much more expensive, approx. $70 tips included and you’re not safe from being stuck in traffic…

Where to sleep ?

Traveling alone allows you to make your own choices and go everywhere you want. But you have to know that sometimes, it’s also more expensive when it’s about booking a room in a hotel… Almost all room rates are for 2 persons, even if you book for one. But there are plenty of other options like staying in a hostel or doing some couchsurfing. I chose to stay 4 nights in a private room I found on AirBnB (81€/night) and an extra night in a cosy hotel that Cecile and I know from its London brand, The Hoxton Hotel. I was lucky to book at the opening of the first Hoxton Hotel in the US and enjoyed a very friendly rate at 91€ ($105). The actual rate is around 235€ ($269).

You have to know that New York turned to be very expensive since the last few years and it’s not easy to book a room under $200/night, no matter if you wanna stay in Manhattan or Brooklyn. So, regarding the location and the the quality of its services, the Hoxton Williamsburg is a great address that I truly recommend to the lonely travelers. But it’s not the only nice place in the neighborhood and you’ll find some more just by flying over a Google map or by having a look at our favorite addresses here.

Actually, I think that Williamsburg – and around – is a nice place to stay for a lonely traveler. I love the vibes over there, the locals are mixed up and you can walk through a famous artist on one side of the street and an italian immigrant on the other. an old hair salon here and a trendy coffee house there… If you’re a street art addict, you’ll also be happy to explore the neighborhood as it’s full of great murals to discover. But New York is changing so fast and it won’t take long before Green Point or Red Hook come to kick out Williamsburg and turn into the new places to be.

How long ? How much ?

Staying in New York for 6/8 days like I did is a good deal if you wanna feel its energy, hang around some nice neighborhoods, plan to visit one or two museum and do some shopping ( I’ll talk about all of it in the post 2/2 ). Also, your budget will vary depending on where you’ll stay, how you’ll get around the city, where you’ll have lunch or dinner…

But before telling you how much I spent during a week in New York, Here are some of my tips to take full advantage of your trip without spending too much money:

☞ A lot of museums are free or pay what you will on specific days of the week or free for select hours like the Moma, every friday from 4 to 8pm or the New Museum, every thursday from 7 to 9pm. A great way to save money ! Find the full list here.
☞ The New York Pass and the City Pass offer discounts and free admissions to a lot of tourist attractions.
☞ Another good way to save money is to figuring out where to have your meals. what I do is always having breakfast outside. New York is full of deli’s where you can pick what ever you want and pay much less than a breakfast at your hotel. My favorites : Whole Food Market, Sunac and Essen Slow Food. For lunch, I try to find a nice and cosy local place. It can be a restaurant, a fast food or a bar as long as it doesn’t look too touristy. Head to our Manhattan and Brooklyn pages to find our favorites addresses. At night, it depends on how much money I have left in my wallet. usually, I set a maximum budget of $50 a day. That doesn’t mean I spend that much every day but never forget that you’ll have to leave a tip of ± 15% on the bills… You’ll hit the 50 bucks very quickly !
☞ Finally, try to avoid taking a cab ! Like in London, it’s kinda part of the experience to take the NYC yellow cabs but it’s way cheaper and practical to buy a one-week metro card and use the subway ! The MTA 7-day unlimited pass cost $32 ( 2019 rate ). Take the cab twice and you’ve already spent $30 !

The stunning view from The Standard High Line hotel.

To sum up…

Before ending this 1 of 2 post about traveling alone in New York, I’m telling you how much a week in the Big Apple cost me in details :
Flight operated by Delta from Brussels Airport and return : 480€
4 nights AirBnB Brooklyn : 326€ ($375)
1 night at the Hoxton Williamsburg : 91€ (actual rate 235€/$269)
2 AirTrain tickets : 8,5€ ($10)
1 7-day metro card : 28€ ($32)
Meals budget : ± 250€
Extras : ± 200€

Be aware that I didn’t do any touristy attraction, didn’t have a meal in a fancy restaurant and didn’t do a lot of shopping. You can easily hit a 2500€ budget/week if you plan to climb on some observatory decks, attend a show in Broadway and stay 5 nights in a hotel.

But it’s not only about saving or spending money ! If you plan to go to New York by your own, I’ll tell you more about my personal experience in a second post. So stay tuned, subscribe to bxtrippers.com and follow us on Instagram !

See ya !

Julien.