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Planning Your Trip

Along with these tips, see ALIX Recommended Apps for efficient and handy apps to refer to during your trip. With a charged smartphone and these apps, you can travel at ease. However, when you are down to 1% or without service, a printed map and guide book never fails!



Important Numbers . . .

For an emergency, call 911, where you will be able to contact police, fire and ambulance.

Call 311 for access to non-emergency NYC services and information about city government programs.

Call 0 for local operator assistance and 00 for international operator assistance.

The country code is +1.

Insurance . . .

There is no free healthcare in the US, for both citizens and visitors and medical costs are very expensive, especially if you do not have insurance. Therefore, it is important that you purchase Health Insurance for the duration of your visit, which will cover overseas medical treatment and medical emergencies.

In addition to Health Insurance, you can also purchase Travel Insurance to cover things like baggage loss or trip cancellation and Medical Evacuation Services to cover medical evacuations. For a list of providers, click here:

Please note that many medications that may be available over the counter in other countries require a prescription in the US. Be sure to pack an adequate supply of any prescription medication you might need for the duration of your stay.

Required Documents . . .

As always, make sure your boarding pass, flight confirmation and hotel confirmation are either printed out or on your phone.

Passport: You must have a valid passport to enter the United States that is valid for the duration of your stay. It would be useful to keep a photocopy of it as well, located in a safe place separate from your passport in case of loss.

Visa: You may need a visa, depending on which country you are from or how long you intend to stay in the US. Under the Visa Waiver Program, citizens of certain countries do not require a visa to enter the US as a visitor or business traveler for up to 90 days. All travelers entering the US under the Visa Waiver Program must have individual machine-readable passports and authorization from the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA). It is recommended that applications are made at least 72 hours prior to travel. Read more about ESTA: Check your visa requirements here: or visit to apply for a US Visa.

Traveller Security & Expedited Entry . . .

Global Entry: Allows expedited clearance for pre-approved, low-risk travelers to the US. All applicants for the Global Entry program undergo a rigorous background check and in-person interview before enrollment. Eligible citizens include United States, United Kingdom, Germany, the Netherlands, Panama, South Korea and Mexico. Read more:

Global entry members are also eligible to participate in TSA Precheck, which expedites traveler screening through TSA security checkpoints. Read more:


Phone . . .

Contact your telephone company to enable international data roaming for the duration of your trip. For shorter trips, we recommend relying on Wi-Fi and turning on data roaming for any necessary bursts of time. This Google Map shows a comprehensive map of free Wi-Fi spots in Manhattan and AmEx Platinum Card holders get access to Boingo Hotspots. Wi-Fi is generally available in most parks, museums and cafes. For longer trips, consider purchasing a prepaid SIM card at a major telephone store such as AT&T or T-Mobile, both of which have stores throughout NY.

Local Transportation . . .

New York is, for the most part, easy to navigate. North of 14th Street, streets are laid out in a numbered grid pattern. Numbered streets run North (uptown) and South (downtown), while the broader avenues run East and West (crosstown). Below 14th Street, street patterns stray from the grid-system.

The iconic yellow taxi, are hailed from the curb. It is available when the taxi number on top of the car is illuminated. Green taxis travel between boroughs and can be hailed in Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, North of 96th street on the East Side of Manhattan, and North of 110th street on the West Side of Manhattan. A 10-15% tip is expected. Do not get in black cars and ignore anyone who offers to hail you a cab at major stations.

Uber, Gett and Lyft are three car apps that are available in New York City. Shared or carpool rides can save money. Note: Uber does not require additional tips, while tips are encouraged for Lyft. Our concierge is available to assist in booking any executive services.

MTA: The Metropolitan Transportation Authority oversees the Subway, Bus, Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North trains. The subway, while notorious for its delays and shutdowns, conveniently runs daily and 24 hours (for the most part). Unlike The Tube, which is identified by color, Subway lines are identified by letter or number.

Some lines branch off and some trains within a line can make only local or express stops, so be sure to know your route beforehand, either by looking at the map in the station or on Google Maps, to know exactly what train to board. Also, unlike some other cities, the platform’s direction is not often indicated by location, but rather “Uptown” and “Downtown.” Also, some stations will only have one platform, going one direction, while others will include both platforms located across from each other. This may all get confusing, so when in doubt, ask someone!

MetroCard: A single fare for a subway or bus ride costs $2.75. If you anticipate using public transportation at least twice a day during your trip, you can also consider purchasing an unlimited weekly or monthly MetroCard. A new card costs $1 and can be purchased at a machine or ticket agent in any subway station. Visit [ for prices][3].

[3]: for prices

Airports and Interstate travel . . .

John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK): A major international airport located in Queens, 12 miles southeast of Lower Manhattan with more than 125 aircraft gates serving the terminals. Travel to Manhattan is accessible by subway and taxi.

Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR): Located partly in Newark and partly in Elizabeth, New Jersey and only 14 miles from Manhattan, this major airport was opened in 1928 as the nation’s oldest airfield and home to the nation’s first commercial airline terminal. Travel to Manhattan is accessible by train and taxi.

LaGuardia Airport (LGA): A domestic airport located in Queens with flights to cities across the United States as well as destinations in Canada and the Caribbean. It is 8 miles of midtown Manhattan. Travel to Manhattan is accessible by bus and taxi.

Useful Websites . . .

ALIX New York Neighborhood Guides
Before You Go:
Crisis Support:
New York Pass:
The Official NYC Guide:
Official NYC Information Centers:
Find an Embassy:


Banking . . .

Notify your bank that you are travelling. It is important that they are aware that you will be using your credit card overseas so that they don’t assume your card has been stolen. You should also find out about any foreign bank fees.

Currency Exchange: Learn the exchange rate between your currency and USD, which can change daily. Visit our recommended apps page for handy currency converter apps. The best, fastest and most reliable method of taking out dollars is to go to a bank-owned ATM machine. They are easily accessible on the street and inside certain convenience stores.

Local Taxes & Refunds . . .

The New York sales tax rate is 8.875%. The tax is almost always included in quoted prices at shops, hotels, and restaurants. In certain situations there is no tax, such as prescription drugs, non-prepared food bought in grocery stores. The United States Government does not refund sales tax to foreign visitors.

LOCAL Customs

Alcohol Consumption . . .

Unlike our friends across the pond, drinking in public, let alone having an open container of alcohol in public or inside a car, is illegal in New York. Smoking is prohibited in all enclosed public spaces and parks.

Social Etiquette . . .

Walking through crowded streets can be overwhelming. To create smoother traffic, stay keep right when walking down the street or standing on an escalator.

If you need to stop, step to the side of the sidewalk so those walking close behind you are not inconvenienced. People get annoyed if you walk slowly in front of them, leaving them unable to pass. If you bump into someone, say sorry. On the train, let people off before you make your way in. See these funny illustrations of NYC Tips and Etiquette:

Tipping . . .

Tip and tax are not included in menu prices and will be added to your bill. Some restaurants will include a tip in the bill if you are dining with a large group, and in rarer cases, restaurants include tips in menu prices and will not require a tip. In cafes and other restaurants that are not sit-down and therefore do not require a server, you do not need to leave a tip. Tip a few dollars to the valet or bellhop and leave a tip in your hotel room before you check out for the cleaner ($2 per night). Also tip around 20% at restaurants, bars and for beauty services.

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