Grand Central Station

You are here

Travel Hacks: New York City

18th March 2019
New York is an illustrious city. Often at the top of bucket lists, millions of travellers flock to the concrete jungle (that dreams are made of) every year to experience its allure. 
Whether you dream of frolicking through Central Park in summer, scoffing a street hot dog or reliving the infamous scene from Breakfast at Tiffany’s, New York truly does have something for everyone. 
We asked our resident New York expert*, Georgia (or Gossip Georgia when she is on the Upper East Side), to give the Travel Money Oz Currency Pass a go on her last jaunt. Now she is back to provide the best travel and USD tips and tricks when visiting the Big Apple. 
*Georgia has been to New York 6 times and eaten approximately 46 street hotdogs. That is expert status in our books. 

GG Tip #1 - Splitting your USD between cash and card

I recommend the good old 70/30 split:
70% card
30% cash
It’s always handy to have smaller notes for your tips or that cheeky hot dog from the van on the side of the road. With that in mind, it’s not a city I would recommend carrying around wads of cash either, especially on the subway. Cue fanny pack styling. 

GG Tip #2 - How much to budget

Look, I’m not gonna sugar coat it: NYC is pricey. 
With the conversation rate, plus tipping, it’s not a cheap holiday destination. With that in mind, there are cheap and expensive options for everything you do. For example, at lunch you can buy a $5 hotdog with your spare coins or splurge $80 on a Michelin star dish.
For a Goldilocks holiday (not too expensive and not too cheap) I recommend between $100-$150 AUD per day.

GG Tip #3 - Where to go

There really is something to tickle everyone's fancy in New York regardless of your budget. 
  • Get your art on at The Guggenheim, $25USD entry for adults and free for children.
  • See wassup at Madison Square Garden. Free to enter, however tickets to shows might be slightly more exxy. 
  • Wise up at the New York City Library (oh hey Carrie Bradshaw) for free!
  • Explore the American Museum of Natural History. Prices range from $13USD for kids and $33USD for adults. I would recommend dedicating a fair bit of time to this museum as it is filled with weird and wonderful exhibits. 
  • Visit Ground Zero for an incredibly eye-opening and sobering experience. You can visit the memorial for free or take part in a tour. Prices range from $30USD to $109USD. 
  • Wander through Central Park! It is free to explore, or you can hire a bike for a small fee to cover the park at double time. I also recommend stopping for a bevvy at Loeb Boathouse. 
  • Soak up the atmosphere of Times Square. Perch yourself somewhere with a hot dog and enjoy some of the worlds best people watching. 
I also recommend avoiding Top of the Rock, instead, venture up to Bar SixtyFive at The Rainbow Room. It’s a rooftop bar, parallel to Top of the Rock, so you’re getting the same views of Manhattan minus the excess tourists. It’s free of charge to get up, you will just need to buy a drink instead (about $20USD for a cocktail). Any excuse to drink at 10 am, right? Blokes, don't forget your collard shirt, or you won't get in! This place is suave. 

GG Tip #4 - What to eat

New York’s food is some of the best. Check out my recommendations based on how much you want to spend. 
$ - Grab a classic hot dog for anywhere between $4 and $6USD, or an “everything” bagel with scallion cream cheese. Apparently, the NYC water makes their bagels extra delicious...not sure what this means, but when in New York I guess?
$$ - Juliana’s pizza in Dumbo is off the chart. You can grab a whole pizza for about $18 - $25 USD. 
$$$ - Flex Mussels. Find them on the Upper East Side or in Soho and get ready to devour mussels of every flavour.  Expect to pay about $30USD for a main size serving. 
$$$$ - If you’re keen on celeb spotting, I recommend Catch NYC or Beauty and Essex. These restaurants and bars provide some seriously delish food and drinks, drawing celebrities from across America. The dishes come with a celeb price tag though, so budget between USD$30 - $50 for a main course. 
$$$$$ - Carbone. Book ahead! Cause this place is the shiz. Imagine a small, exclusive Italian restaurant bursting with an authentic atmosphere. Probably the best Italian food I have ever eaten. You’re paying for the food and the experience here, at around $100USD per person for a meal and glass or two of wine. 


GG Tip #5 - Using your Travel Money Oz Currency Pass

The Currency Pass is super easy to use, as you would expect with any travel card powered by MasterCard.  I felt the security on the card was far better than others I have used. In the past, I’ve had issues with my travel card being closed in different countries and I (thankfully) had no issues at all with the Currency Pass.
I found the app slightly confusing, to begin with, however, after a few uses, I got the hang of it. When you purchase a card in the store the team can give you a run through of the app and portal. I recommend doing this as they will show you how to check your balance and transfer funds when necessary. 

GG Tip #6 - How to get around

If it’s your first time in the Big Apple, the subway will seem like a maze. I highly recommend CityMapper, which is a ridiculously easy way to use transport app. 
You’ll need a Metro Card to use the subway, which you can purchase from any subway booth or tickets machines. I usually buy an unlimited weekly travel card for about $32USD. This allows you to travel all throughout Manhatten and across to Brooklyn. 
If you would prefer to stay above ground, I always use Uber (no tipping needed) over Yellow Cabs! Yellow cabs around the main tourist areas like Times Square will often throw on a “tourist charge” the second you get in. Avoid using them where you can. 
Oh, and never use buses. You thought the subway stunk…


GG Tip #7 - Where to shop

To flash your cash, head straight to Madison or 5th Ave. You’ve got Bergdorf Goodman, Harry Winston and many more incredible stores. These streets are 10 km’s long, so pick yourself up some sweet Balenciaga trainers and plan a day or two of shopping. 
I for one, don’t make that kinda money, so you’ll find me downtown at Bloomingdales on Broadway. In Soho you’ll find designers like Isabel Marant, Alexander Wang and Opening Ceremony *yells "shut up and take my money"*. 
You can even design your own Magnum, which in my opinion, is bloody genius. 
If you are heading to New York, don’t forget to grab some USD and load up your Travel Money Oz Currency Pass before you go. You can either purchase in store, or online
XOXO Gossip Georgia
This blog is provided for information only and does not take into consideration your objectives, financial situation or needs.  You should consider whether the information and suggestions contained in any blog entry are appropriate for you, having regard to your own objectives, financial situation and needs.  While we take reasonable care in providing the blog, we give no warranties or representations that it is complete or accurate, or is appropriate for you.  We are not liable for any loss caused, whether due to negligence or otherwise, arising from use of, or reliance on, the information and/or suggestions contained in this blog.
All rates are quoted from the Travel Money Oz website, and are valid as of 18 March 2019.