I'm seeing a lot of chatter in the comments about youze guyz coming to NYC for the Writers' Digest conference this weekend.
Here are some tips:
1. Don't take a cab from JFK if you're watching your pennies. The AirTrain at the airport goes to the A-train (subway) for $8.00
However, don't worry about being gouged by a cab driver if you do get an airport cab. The fares IN to the city are flat fee, and regulated.
2. If you're worried about the cost of food at the hotel, remember you are steps away from other places to nosh. Get on your walking shoes and head EAST from the hotel to Lexington or Third Ave. There are small diners, and what look like small grocery stores to you. Every small grocery store (what we call a bodega) has a deli and a grill. For breakfast, they'll make you a bacon egg and cheese on a roll (or bagel) for $5.00 Add a large coffee and it's $7.00 total. For lunch, a turkey sandwich on a roll is about $5.50.
Many of the delis have buffets too. They charge you by the pound. The buffets close to our office are $9.00 per pound.
Now I know that's more than what you pay out there in places like Muncie Indiana (where I nearly fainted at how little it cost for great Thai food on Friday night) but it's cheap for NYC.
3. One of the best things to do in NYC is ride the Staten Island Ferry. It's free. Take the 4/5 train downtown, or the 1 train downtown. Get off at Battery Park, and the ferry terminal is right there. Doing this at night is a GREAT way to see the skyline.
It's totally safe, even at night. Be city smart of course; don't flash large rolls of cash and don't carry your wallet in your back pocket.
4. Don't be afraid of the subway. It's clean (by our standards) safe (by your standards too) and it runs all the time. So do the buses. Public transportation is really good in this city and MUCH safer than driving if you're not used to our pedestrians.
If you need to figure out which subway will take you to your destination, use HopStop
If you want to find out if your subway or bus is having issues, consult the MTA site
5. Prepare for hot humid weather. Wear cotton rather than polyester clothes. Bring good walking shoes. Leave your heels at home, you do NOT need them here and those subway grates in the sidewalk are a menace to the unwary.
6. New Yorkers are kind to visitors but impatient. If you're lost, you can ask for help. Do it succinctly:
"Where is the subway"
"Is this the place to get the bus"
"Which way to the ferry?"
Under NO circumstances do you stand on the sidewalk with a large unfolded map trying to figure out where you are. If you need to pause and reconnoiter, stand to the SIDE of the traffic flow.
7. Do not ask a cab driver how to get to your destination. Simply give him the address. Many cab drivers now have GPS and don't need directions. Asking a driver is asking him to take the scenic route.
8. ALWAYS note the cab number of the cab you get in. If you lose something, that's the only way you can get it back.
9. If you're hailing a cab, you may be approached by town car drivers. Be aware these guyz are UN-metered cars and frequently upcharge from what you'd pay in a taxi. Negotiate before you get in the car.
10. NYC seems hot dirty and impatient to many visitors. It may be, but it's also the center of the world, and full of people doing amazing things. I love this town with a passion that borders on the irrational and I hope you'll see some of why I do while you're here.