Travel Tips: Helpful Advice

Posted on Jul 17, 2012

For the most up-to-date version of this article, click here.

The Layout:
New York City is comprised of five boroughs: The Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn, Staten Island and Manhattan.

Who Lives Where:
Census Bureau Estimates for July 1, 2011
Total Population
According to Census Bureau population estimates, New York City’s population increased from 8,175,133 in April of 2010 to 8,244,910 in July of 2011. This is an increase of 69,777 residents or about 0.85 percent over the 2010 mark. The largest change in the city’s population occurred in Brooklyn, increasing by almost 28,000 persons or 1.1 percent, followed by Queens, which registered an increase of 17,126 persons or 0.8 percent. Manhattan also showed a substantial increase of 16,075, which translated into a change of 1 percent. The Bronx (0.5 percent) and Staten Island (0.4) percent showed the smallest gains over the 15 month period. New York City’s increase since April of 2010 represented 80 percent of the total increase in New York State, which raised the percentage that the city constitutes of the State’s population slightly, from 42.2 to 42.4 percent.

There are three major commercial airports: LaGuardia, JFK and Newark and the private airport, Teterboro.  In additon, there are two major railroad stations: Penn Station and Grand Central Terminal

Transportation options in New York City vary whether you use private or non private services. The taxi drivers in NYC are not like London where they need to know where they are going and the shortest route to get there.  Taxi drivers must pass a basic test in New York.  However, this does not mean they are required to know the shortest distance between two locations.  English may not be their first language and they may be new to the city. The taxi meters should always be running.  For additional information, rules and regulations see Taxi and Limousine Fact Sheet.

Most travelers either use a car service booked in advance or a yellow taxi. Avoid drivers hawking their services. Only legitimate yellow taxis should be used and they are waiting outside the terminal on a designated taxi line. Drivers never leave their cabs.

How to Dress:
The temperature varies a great deal by season.  Most New Yorker’s dress in dark colors and are a bit more understated and sophisticated.  After a good overview with a City Highlights Tour, focus on the individual neighborhoods. Walking is the way to really enjoy the City, and that means wearing comfortable, closed toe shoes. Save the high heels for an evening out when you are taking transportation.

Neutral colors work best and are easy to mix and match.  Most good restaurants have dress codes that prohibit jeans, so if you want to leave one item home, that’s the one. Substitute dark slacks instead. Strive for comfortable clothes so that you can layer and interchange pieces.

In case you forgot something, there are literally thousands of boutiques and department stores to obtain those items.  The following carry on basics will be handy:

For men, slacks, casual and dress shirts, a blazer, tie and sweaters with comfortable shoes will be a good carry on wardrobe. Business suits are still appropriate for meetings.

For women, slacks, skirts, jacket or blazer, sweaters and blouses and comfortable shoes are a good option.

Carry on bags are preferable to waiting for luggage at carousels at New York airports.

Stay Cool/Stay Warm:
The buildings still tend to be overheated in the winter and overly air conditioned in the summer. Carrying a wrap, sweater or jacket is a good idea.

Temperatures range by month as follows:

Average Monthly Temperatures in NYC (Click here for the current weather in NYC):

Month Max / Min in Fahrenheit Max / Min in Celsius
January 39 / 26 4 / -3
February 40 / 27 5 / -3
March 48 / 34 8 / 1
April 61 / 44 16 / 6
May 71 / 53 21 / 11
June 81 / 63 27 / 17
July 85 / 68 29 / 18
August 83 / 66 28 / 19
September 77 / 60 25 / 16
October 67 / 51 19 / 10
November 54 / 41 12 / 5
December 41 / 30 5 / -1

Museums in New York City:

Visiting the Museums of New York can be overwhelming. Check the days of the week before going as they differ from day to day and hours change.

All Museums List:

  • Alice Austen House Museum
  • American Craft Museum
  • American Folk Art Museum
  • American Museum of Natural History
  • American Museum of the Moving Image
  • American Numismatic Society
  • Americas Society
  • Artists Space
  • Asia Society
  • Museum Bronx Museum of the Arts
  • The Brooklyn Botanic Gardens
  • The Brooklyn Children’s Museum
  • The Brooklyn Museum of Art
  • Carnegie Hall/Rose Museum
  • Central Park Zoo/Wildlife Gallery
  • The Children’s Museum of the Arts
  • Children’s Museum of Manhattan
    The Cloisters
  • Cooper-Hewitt
  • Dahesh Museum
  • Dia Center for the Arts
  • The Drawing Center Ellis Island Museum
  • Empire State Building Lobby Gallery Museum at FIT
  • Forbes Magazine Galleries
  • The Frick Collection Grey Art Gallery
  • Goethe House
  • Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
  • Guggenheim Museum
  • SoHo Rose Center
  • The Hispanic Society of America International Center of Photography
  • Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum
  • Isamu Noguchi Garden Museum
  • Jewish Museum
  • LaGuardia and Wagner Archives
  • Lower East Side Tenement Museum
  • Madame Tussaud’s New York
  • Merchant’s House Museum
  • Metropolitan Museum of Art
  • The Morgan Library
  • Mount Vernon Hotel Museum & Garden
  • Municipal Art Society
  • El Museo Del Barrio
  • Museum at Eldridge Street
  • Museum for African Art
  • Museum of American Financial History
  • Museum of Chinese in the Americas
  • Museum of Jewish Heritage
  • Museum of Math
  • Museum of Modern Art
  • Museum of the City of New York
  • Museum of the Moving Image
  • Museum of Television and Radio National Academy Museum
  • National Design Museum
  • National Museum of the American Indian
  • New Jersey Children’s Museum
  • New Museum of Contemporary Art
  • New York Botanical Garden
  • New York City Fire Museum
  • New York City Police Museum
  • New York Hall of Science
  • New York Historical Society
  • New York Public Library
  • New York Transit Museum
  • Nicholas Roerich Museum
  • PS1 Contemporary Art Center
  • Pierpont Morgan Library Queens Historical Society
  • Queens Museum of Art
  • Rose Center for Earth and Space
  • Schomburg Center
  • Seaman’s Church Institute
  • Snug Harbor Cultural Center
  • Sony Wonder Technology Lab
  • South Street Seaport Museum
  • Staten Island Institute
  • Studio Museum in Harlem Taipei Gallery
  • Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace Ukrainian Museum Wave Hill
  • Whitney Museum of American Art
  • Whitney Museum/Philip Morris


Tips are an essential part of the earnings for people that work in the service industry, including hotels, restaurants and drivers. Take into consideration the level of luxury, as well as the quality of service when determining a tip. At an upscale hotel or restaurant with good service, tips should be at the higher end, while at more modest establishments, the lower end is acceptable. Aside from at restaurants/bars where tips can be put your bill, most tips are expected in cash.

Tipping at New York City Hotels:

Hotel Doorman – hailing cab, bringing car from valet – $1 -$2
Porters and Bellhops – $1- $2 per bag
Housekeeping – $2 – $5 per day, depending on services
Concierge – $5 – $20, depending on request. More for particularly difficult requests
Room Service Waiter – $15 – 20%, though this is often included in your bill
The Hotel maid: $5 per day

Most waitstaff and bartenders are paid very little and rely heavily on tips for their income. Check your bill to be sure that a restaurant (or bar) didn’t automatically add a gratuity to your bill (this is particularly common when traveling with a group) — there’s no need to double-tip. Also check the bill to make sure that it is yours. Sometimes you may end up with someone else’s check!

Waitstaff – 18% – 22% of the total bill
Bartender – $1- $2/drink for drinks served at the bar; 15% – 20% of the total bill otherwise
Maitre d’ – $20 – $50, depending on circumstances and restaurant
Coat check – $2/item
Bathroom attendant – $1

Taxi Drivers – 15% – 20% of fare; for short rides, add a dollar and round up
Limousine and Livery drivers – 15% – 20% of fare; if you pre-pay, be sure this isn’t already included
Shuttle Drivers – $2/person
Tolls: charges will be included as a separate charge from what you will see on the meter.  (JFK has flat rates to and from the city)

Tipping at Spas & Salons in New York City:

Hairdressers – 15% – 20%; $2-5 to the assistant who washes your hair, if applicable
Manicurist – 15% – 20%
Masseuse – 15% – 20%
Aesthetician – $15-20%

Forget it. It’s illegal so don’t bother in restaurants, parks, office buildings and many hotels, bars and night clubs.

Public Transportation operates 24 hours a day and one MetroCard can take you almost anywhere and back. You can use the same MetroCard between subways and buses to cross town within a two hour period at no additional cost. Subway stations have machines to purchase MetroCards and accept either cash or credit and debit cards.

New York City’s subways are extremely efficient and easy to use. The subways run both local and express.

New York City’s buses run both express (Limited) and local. Buses stop at specific locations easily marked with signs. Please note that the buses only accept MetroCards and coins not dollar bills !!!

Discover New York and Beyond can create your itinerary so that it meets your needs and budget.  By using your preferences, DNY can personalize your itinerary.

Hotels vary by location. Your Destination Specialist can offer the best options for your stay.  Remember that many NYC hotel rooms are small, with limited closet space. If a property looks incredibly “cheap” you can bet there is a reason.

Planning the trip:
Be reasonable with your expectations. New York is expensive. Therefore, you might want to spend less days and fill them with activities, or spend more time and less activities per day. Everyone’s energy level is different. Work with a local expert that knows the city and can provide accurate information to help you plan the trip to meet your needs and budget and maximize your time. It’s worth paying someone to make sure the trip is exactly what you expect and is there with you from the minute that you arrive until you leave. Booking something on the Internet is great until something goes wrong or you need help.

The team at Discover New York and Beyond is with you every step of the way transforming your dream trip into a reality.

Contact us to help you!

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