So, this trip to New York City had been in the works for a long time. The idea was brought up jokingly amongst my friend, Irina, and I during a particularly drawn out guest lecture during a Cellular and Molecular Biology class last November. Our original plan was to get away for a few days in between the end of exams in April and the start of summer classes in early May. However, we found that the turnaround was far too short. So, the trip got postponed to June. Then, August. And that’s where the delays stopped. We decided to go, once and for all.
The duration of our trip was from August 24 to August 29. Thereafter, we divided up the planning work needed: I was to book flights (and Broadway tickets, though I’ll talk about that in a later post), while Irina took care of our accommodations. The cost of our respective bookings evened out quite nicely, and we settled the small difference later on.
Flights and Other Transportation: This was fairly straightforward, as there are many flights out of both Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ) and Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport (YTZ) to any of the major New York City airports (travellers commonly go through LaGuardia or JFK). We flew into LaGuardia (LGA), which is convenient if you are staying in Manhattan as it is closer to Midtown and Upper Manhattan than JFK. You have the option of taking the M60 bus into Manhattan, which runs only from LGA and costs $2.50 USD (if you don’t have a Metro Card– more on that in a bit).
I used Expedia and SkyScanner, both of which are easy-to-use and comprehensive search tools, to look for the flight tickets. I ended up booking two one-way flight tickets with two different airlines-WestJet and Air Canada- and the total came out to ~$240 CAD (Economy class tickets). Booking each leg of the trip separately can be advantageous in that the overall cost is cheaper, in some cases (this applied to our situation). However, that is not to say that there aren’t risks involved. One such example is if you have to cancel your trip for whatever reason: you would have to pay a cancellation fee to each airline instead of a single airline if you had a round-trip ticket.
In terms of transportation on the ground, we each bought a Metro Card that covered all forms of public transit for a week for $32 USD. This is cost effective and makes the process of getting to where you need to go far smoother as you do not have to pay in coin each time; you simply swipe and go for subway access or, in the case of buses, you insert the Metro Card into the machine inside the bus. It is worth noting that for the M60 bus out of LGA, there are such machines near the bus stop. Irina and I missed the first M60 bus because we did not insert our Metro Cards into these machines and obtain a receipt to present to the bus driver. In all other cases, we had no such issues; everything was done inside of the bus.
Accommodations: Our five night stay took place at a Manhattan studio apartment owned by James and Phylline that we found using Airbnb. For those of you that aren’t familiar with it, it’s a site wherein locals are able to list their homes and have visitors rent them out for a certain period of time. It can be a couch or an entire mansion, it simply depends on the Airbnb owner. The amenities included for the price of the Airbnb are all provided on the listing. Make sure to look for Airbnbs that have quite a few reviews.
The place we stayed at was a duplex; guests stay on the bottom floor, whilst the owners live upstairs. Check in was at 3:00pm, though we arrived almost an hour later (make sure to notify the owners ahead of time). James met us and gave us a brief but informative tour of the place, before leaving us to our own devices. The room was small but clean and had two Queen beds, a bathroom, and a patio outside. There was a television in the main living space and some toiletries (gel, shampoo, and the like) already provided in the bathroom for our convenience. Another bonus is that the Wi-Fi was fast and reliable.
In terms of cons, the walls are very thin so you can hear pretty much everything going on upstairs. If you’re looking for a place that has a great lookout over NYC, this isn’t it. Lastly, the location is certainly not in the heart of Manhattan. Irina and I found that virtually everywhere we wanted to go (even for breakfast) required the subway (there’s a station about a 3-5 minute walk away).
If interested, you can check out the Airbnb and contact James and Phylline here.
This post was meant to provide a basic rundown of the arrangements that we made and the resources that we used. In the coming weeks, I’ll be posting about all of our adventures in New York City, including reviews of classic shows on Broadway and some of the must-see sites. Stay tuned!