I've been here a year and a half now and after many mistakes, I think I've worked out the top 5 things that every person in New York City should carry at all times…
Here we go!
1. An umbrella
Sunshine. Unbearable heat. Overwhelming rain storm. Or as we like to call it: Tuesday.
Check the weather (I recommend the AccuWeather app by the way) for the percentage chance of rain and use this simple method to work out whether it's going to rain that day:
- 0% chance of rain: Probably won't rain
- 20% chance of rain: Probably will rain
- 40% chance of rain: It's going to rain
- 60% chance of rain: If I'm honest, it's probably already raining
- 80% chance of rain: Sorry, you'll have to speak up, I can't hear you over the rain
- 100% chance of rain: Unsure, flooding is preventing my use of a weather app
2. $10 in $1 notes in your back pocket (+ extra cash)
First, the $10 in $1 notes or “singles”. Here's my tip: take $10 in singles and keep them separate from the rest of your wallet or purse. Now, I'm not suggesting this because it's unsafe to pull your money out in public (this is America Josh, not Smartraveller.gov.au) but instead because singles serve a purpose in all sorts of places where you might want to quickly grab one. Tipping for a wine or beer when sitting at a bar ($1/drink), walking past an especially good musician in Union Square (if you stop to record or take a picture, leave a tip, it's a nice thing to do and clearly you think they're worth it), or just making up the extra $1 you need for your extra double mocha frappuccino. It'll be much easier if you know you have a small stack ready for access. I keep mine in the opposite back pocket from my wallet.
As a side note, carrying cash in New York is somewhat important too. You'll find an equal array of cash only, cash and credit with a minimum spend (~$10 most of the time), and credit only places, so it's good to be ready for all possible variations. Don't be caught out!
3. Metro card
This one seems obvious I know but there have been a few times I've been wandering the city with others who have left their card at home. Even if you're not planning on catching the train, pack the card! You never know if you're going to want to head somewhere a bit further out of town or change neighborhoods in search of a great park, party, rooftop, bar, or hammock.
4. NY State license
Unlike many other places, New York City will check your ID at bars whether you look 12, 21, 48 or 92. You won't get away with “I left it at home” at bars here, they will simply refuse you entry and that will be that. It's also much easier for automatic check-ins at some places that scan your ID if you have a New York State one (with a barcode on the back). Head to the DMV and get yourself a shiny new piece of plastic with your US address and you'll be one step ahead of the rest applying for things and getting into venues.
5. Noise canceling headphones
I know this one is a bit cost prohibitive but I honestly believe it's a pro-tip for living in New York City (or any other big and busy city).
It's loud here. All the time. Whether it's traffic noise, screeching brakes on the subway, sirens, horns, or people screaming, you will at some point become completely oblivious to the fact that you haven't heard nothing for some time now.
A good pair of noise-cancelling headphones are a God-send. They mean that you don't have to turn your
Summer extra: 6. A handy pair of Sunglasses
Every single building reflects the sun. Even if you don't normally wear sunglasses, protect your eyes, buy a semi-decent pair.
Winter extra: 7. Snow boots
You don't have to buy really fancy ones but they're worth every single penny. You'll feel magical when you walk across a sludgy path and don't fall on your butt. I've written another whole post about how to prepare for winter here.