City Lights: Tips for Making the Most out of Your New York Trip

by Alex Schnee
( September 18th, 2014 )

New York Travel

I went to Sarah Lawrence College, which is about a thirty-minute train ride from Grand Central Station in Manhattan. Over the two years I was there, I had an experience of a lifetime (living in New York as a student was a lot less stressful than I can imagine living there as an adult would be). I’ll head back there in two weeks to see some friends and to make some new memories there. Here are some of my tips for the Big Apple:

Take a deep breath.

New York can be an overwhelming city if you have never been there before. I almost had more culture shock going there than when I went to Europe for the first time. With everything going on and so much to see, you can find yourself freaking out a bit. Taking a deep breath and thinking about what you really want to do while you are there. Putting together an itinerary can be a good idea in a place like New York, as well. I’m usually a more go-with-the-flow traveler, but in a bustling place with so much to offer, having a plan can help to make your trip less stressful.

Take advantage of the museums.

New York boasts some of the best museums in the States, and it would be a shame not to check some of them out when you are there. The Metropolitan Museum of Art will keep you busy for an entire day or more, and MoMA is the location to see some of the most famous works of modern art in the world. If you’re more of a science person, the Museum of Natural History and the nearby Hayden Planetarium is the perfect place to learn something new.

New York is expensive.

Unfortunately, this is just a reality that travelers are going to have to face when they arrive. You can still often find some good deals on hostels and food if you don’t choose to stay in the middle of Manhattan, but it will still probably cost more than what most are used to paying. As hard as it can be for a Gen-Y traveler to pay a little extra for certain items, it’s part of the experience. Living in New York for two years made me realize that I didn’t want to end up staying there long term. However, it still remains as one of my favorite places in the world to visit, and probably always will be.

Do you have any tips for traveling to New York City? What is your favorite thing to do there?

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Needing Reinforcements: Using a Travel Agent

by Alex Schnee
( September 16th, 2014 )

Travel Agent Services

It’s so easy to book everything online in the new internet age that I think sometimes we as Gen-Y travelers totally forget that there were once people who used to book trips for others. Here’s an even crazier thought: they’re still around.

Knowing when is a good time to hand the reins over to someone else to find the right plane tickets and hostels can be a challenge. When we are surviving from paycheck to paycheck, forking over another fifty or sixty dollars to have a travel agent help us can be like cutting off an arm. However, it’s not always easy to know whether you are getting the best deals or if you have everything in place when you are taking a big trip, and getting a second opinion can really be helpful—we might end up saving more money in the long run.

I usually book things on my own, and since I’m still considered to be of “student” age, I can get some good deals without having to bother someone. However, my dad and I are headed to Iceland in a few weeks, and coordinating our already crazy flight patterns (a definite downside to student pricing) has turned out to be a little bit more than I wanted to take on as both a traveler and while working. I’ve contacted my travel agent and put him to work on finding a good way for us both to get there and back, and I think he will do a better job than I ever could.

Which kind of goes to show that the profession of a travel agent is not quite dead—even for twenty-something travelers. It also brings to mind how much more you have to take on when you are choosing to go with someone else rather than on your own. Sometimes, there is just too much going on for you to focus on—and having someone give you an idea of the best possible option and what can make your trip go easier and go more smoothly. I’m lucky to have a great travel agent for those moments when I feel like I’m in way over my head, but I understand how other Gen-Y travelers might not choose to hire someone to help them, as well.

What do you think? Do you have a travel agent you like to use or do you feel like you can get by without one?

Image courtesy of Michael Coghlan.

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3 Travel Websites for Twenty-Somethings

by Alex Schnee
( September 11th, 2014 )

Travel Websites for Twenty-Somethings

It’s almost impossible these days to travel without using the web. Whether it’s booking your flights or train tickets, most of it has to be done online. As Gen-Y wanderers, though, we’re usually pretty tech savvy and get those tickets booked before older generations can even blink an eye.

Here are some websites I’ve found helpful when on the road:

Trevolta

Call this the kick-starter of travel. You can post your own crowd-funded trips and see if you can get sponsors and people interested in donating to your cause. It’s a great site if you are looking for a way to finance that honeymoon or you have a location you want to go to for a specific reason. Whether you are thinking about bicycling in Ireland or traveling throughout Italy solely by Vespa, this is the way to get the cash (and a group of people cheering you on).

Check out this crowd-funded trip where the travelers are planning on making it from Spain to New Zealand in time for the new Hobbit movie premiere.

Rome 2 Rio

Let’s face it, sometimes Google Maps just doesn’t cut it. Rome 2 Rio is great because it will help you find a way to get from any one point in the world to the next, plus a rough estimate of how much it will cost. It may seem too good to be true, but I’ve done my best to confound it, and it manages to come up with bus schedules, ticket prices, and working, reliable services every time. You can even come up with a route if you have more places to stop than just point A or point B. If you are thinking about making a backpacking trek or you need some alternative ways to get around rather than just flying, this site is invaluable.

Hotels We Love

Visiting a new city can be an overwhelming experience, and when you aren’t sure which areas and sights are the best to check out, you might want to consider checking out Hotels We Love. It’s perfect as a modern-day, Generation-Y guide. It gives you the scoop on each place without offering too much, and the writing on the site is downright hipster (in a good way). It also offers some great hotel, museum, and eating options so you can visit each city like a local. If you like diverting a bit off the tourist path, this is the perfect website to direct you in the right way.

Have any websites that you would recommend? How has using the web been good or bad for you when you travel?

Photo courtesy of Anthony DiLaura.

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