Planning our 2nd New York Trip-On Our Own

My 2nd trip to New York City was as different from day and night from my 1st trip. This time it was going to be ME leading the way. That took a lot of planning. Where to get a hotel? How to ride the subway? Should we get a city, or New York, or smart destination pass? What places to visit?

Our original plan was to go with a friend of moms and her young son. But than circumstances changed only three weeks ahead of departure. She had lost her job. She had to make a big decision, stay and save her money or go while she still had money? She decided to stay and forfeited the airplane fee. We had chosen not to get travel insurance and this is one of the times that show that sometimes, it’s worth it. But, if I remember it right, it only cost her 50 dollars per person to change her airplane tickets to use for later and it would have cost 50 for travel insurance so she didn’t make out to bad.

Should we have gotten travelers insurance? Unless I’m dead (or very close to dying) I don’t cancel trips. I take measures to have everything prepaid as much as possible so that my cost while visiting is as low as I can make it. If my luggage gets lost, who cares? I have spare clothes in my carry on and anything else of importance in there. If you choose to live dangerously as well, I tell you this tip: Make sure you are able to cancel the motel. We were able to give our friend back all the motel money, and we actually ended up canceling our own rooms and booking a different hotel.

This is where I messed up.

I found a BETTER deal on a different motel. This one was ‘close’ to a subway station. It had pickup at the airport so that we didn’t have to bother with air trains or taxis. And it was cheaper than our last motel. It was nonrefundable-but who cares? We would NOT be cancelling our trip to NYC. But the cancelling the trip wasn’t the problem with us-it was the fact that I didn’t double and triple check the booking dates before I hit the button to confirm.

I had forgotten to book one extra day.

And the deal was over. I called and begged the motel. “Let me add just one more night for the same price.” Nope. “But I just hit confirm like 15 minutes ago!” Nope. So I had to pay full price for an extra night. This cost me an extra 40 dollars. Still cheaper than the last motel, but the deal was not so great anymore. And even though it was entirely my fault, I’m still resentful that they didn’t let me add just one extra night for the same price.

Since we decided to book a motel in Queens-because it was ‘cheaper’ and ‘easier’ then booking one in Manhattan-we had to learn how to ride the Subway. This was the part I dreaded. I couldn’t memorize a subway map! F, Downtown, Queens, Uptown, E, etc. And I didn’t want to be frantically trying to figure out what stop to take as we were on the train. So I looked to the internet for tips and tricks and found this app-HOPSTOP. It was a lifesaver. It told us exactly what station to go to, what train to go on, how long it would take, and if it would be faster to just walk there. We still had our hiccups-but that was because we didn’t read the exact train name before entering. All F, or E, trains are not alike! An E train is not the same as an E express. If the name does not exactly match up-do not enter. Otherwise you might find yourself flying by your original exit point. And remember to memorize exactly what stop and train you want to take before you enter the station because they have no WiFi or data down there. We took a screenshot of the phone so we could remember.

Now the fun part of the planning began-where to go? There were so many tourist sites I hadn’t gotten to see the first time and I was determined to go this time. Empire State Building, 30 rock, American Museum of Natural History, Central Park, Brooklyn Bridge, the Plaza Hotel. The not so fun part-picking out a savings pass. City Pass, New York Pass, Smart Destination are just a few. I finally settled on the Go Pass. I liked that I was able to build my own. I didn’t want to have to choose between places, or pay for a place I didn’t want to go too. You don’t save much, but what you don’t save in money you save in time. Plus, since it was all paid for it was one extra cost we didn’t have to juggle in New York.

The last part of the planning maybe silly, but I think it’s important. Clothing. We went in March and I thought we would be pretty warm but I did pack two coats. I know this goes against everything else everyone says but I wanted my fun coat and I wanted my pretty coat and I did wear both. You want to look good when you look back at your photos. So pack your fun clothes, but be realistic about the weather. Even though we packed for cold, we didn’t bring our gloves or scarves or hats, and ended up having to buy them all because we were so cold at night. And whatever you do, DO NOT get a haircut or try a new hair style before your vacation. I ended up looking like David Bowie in most of my pictures. Which is why you won’t see many.

flat iron building

At the Flat Iron Building in my red coat

With the suitcases zipped, our paperwork in hand, and the excitement setting in, we set off for New York!


Hi! My name is Tana Buckminster and I am a travel writer for my travel blog, Road Trips With My Mom. I like to go on adventures, visit museums, and see new places. Come follow me on my adventures!


  1. Your blog has been so inspirational and informative. About to go to NY, Niagara and Washington in April, so your comments have helped me so much. Would love to vist Oregon some time – Can but dream!

    • Thank you so much! You have no idea how much that means to me! I know your going to have a great time visiting all 3-and hopefully soon you will add Oregon to your list! I have a friend going to New York City in April too, so I’m trying to hurry and get all my New York trips (since I have gone 3 times) written and give all my tips and tricks away. Let me know how your trip turned out!

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