New York Stories and Tips

Planning tips

Magnificant Manhatten Photo, New York, New York

NYC is one city you will never forget. NYC seems to easily blend its varieties of cultures into one. There is truly something here for everyone, so get out and enjoy it!

I spent 5 years as a travel agent. While it is not rocket science, there is more to it than people imagine. It does take some effort to plan a memorable trip. But if I can do it, so can you. After all, I have my BA in sociology and never took a travel course.

One of the best pieces of advice I can give to anyone when it comes to trip-planning is to plan well in advance. I personally start thinking about a trip several years in advance. I keep a notebook by my bed, and when I see something or read something I am interested in, I write down the information for future reference and then set the plans in motion about 6-12 months in advance. I planned this one about 6 months in advance.

Despite the fact that NYC itself is not very big, there is a heck of a lot of stuff here to do. It would take you months to see everything, so don’t go and expect to see everything in one trip. After all, NYC is not going anywhere. You can come back later for more sightseeing. Take the time to invest in a tour guide (I like Frommers myself) and then find a source or two that offers current information. You can get a travel guide from the visitor’s bureau at You can also use their site for current information, as well as IgoUgo for advice from other travelers. I typically use three to four sources for my trip-planning. Once you have your information, sit down with everyone you're going with and come up with a list of things you want to do. I try to have a list of must-see things and then things I would like to see if I have the time. Then take a map and map out what you want to do. Many travelers' guides or visitors' bureaus will have maps you can use. I just went to my local Barnes & Noble and picked up the Streetwise Manhattan map. It was only a few bucks and laminated, making it perfect for all the use I put it through.

From there, I start my planning. Try to get your sightseeing in one area together. That makes the most efficient use of your time. I have friends who marvel at how I can see so many things in one day, while they can only manage one or two things. There are some things in NYC that can take a whole day to visit. Central Park can certainly take up all of your day, and if you plan on going to the Statue of Liberty, that will take up most of your day. I also make note of their hours and days they're closed, as well as website information. Prior to your actual trip, take time to visit the websites of the places you plan on seeing for any last-minute changes or cancellations. I try to give you the website information for all the places I visit in my journals. Also make note of whether a restaurant you want to visit accepts reservations and how far in advance you can make them. Also, plan for things to happen. No trip is perfect. If you are coming here during the summer, at Christmas, or any other heavy tourist times, then it is imperative that you make advanced plans.

For any true fan of the theater, there is no bigger thrill in the world than seeing a show on a Broadway stage. On the other hand, if you have never seen a show, NYC is the best place to get started. You can go to for more information. Here, you can not only order tickets, but they offer information such as synopses of the shows, what ages each show is appropriate for, and the degree of difficulty in obtaining tickets for each show. They also offer dinner-and-show combination packages. There are a few ways to get your tickets in advance. You can go to sites such as,, or to the show's website directly. A Google or Yahoo search should turn up a website for you. There is also the TKTS office directly in the heart of Times Square. Here you can purchase same-day, half-price tickets starting at 11am. However, if you are here during a busy time or want tickets to one of the hottest shows going, then I do suggest advanced tickets.

If you have planned your visit in advance, one of the most fun things you can do (and for free) is see a TV show being taped. Montell Williams, The View, Emeril Live, and David Letterman are all taped live in N.Y. Shows like Montell, Conan, and Letterman are seasonal and usually do not tape over the summer and around holidays. Show like Regis and Kelly and the Today Show usually tape year round.

You can go to the official NYC visitor’s page at and click on the Things to Do page. Here you will find out how to get tickets for the show you want to see. In most cases, you are simply directed to go onto the show’s website to put in your request. If you want to see a live taping of Emeril Live, good luck. So does everybody else. Tickets for his show are hard to come by. You need to go to and sign up for the lottery. Twice a year, tickets are distributed through a lottery. The length of time before you hear back about tickets depends on the show. I put in a request for tickets for Montell Williams and heard back in days. Unfortunately, he was not taping when I was in N.Y. The request for David Letterman tickets were put in months in advance. I got the phone call the day before my departure.

With just some advanced planning, you, too, can have a wonderful visit in NYC. Everyone should take the time out to visit this magnificent city. She has so much to show you. Go ahead--make your plans and see what she can show you! You will be glad you did.

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