A First Trip and Love Letter to New York City – Part 1

Guide to Visiting New York City - Studio 404

Hey friends! I know it’s been a while since I was able to share some business thoughts and this blog is no exception. I did chat this week about business growth and evolution on the podcast. Earlier this year, I was invited to speak at WordCamp NYC at the United Nations building in Manhattan. The conference took place in July and it was such an amazing opportunity. Since it’s now September, I figured I could take time to write about my experiences in the city and why I’m still in love with the city that never sleeps. I also got through this post and realized this needs to be split up so here is the first half of our trip!

Dear NYC, I’ve Been Obsessed With You

For anyone who doesn’t know, I have been, as most people are, obsessed with the phenomenon that is New York City. As a kid, seeing Kevin McCallister take on this behemoth of a place mystified me. So many of my childhood favorite movies and television shows all seemed to center around this beautiful city that just kept evolving. Tibby Rollins obviously lived there at one point so I just couldn’t have been more obsessed with the city. Fast-forward to last February when David got the opportunity to visit the city for the first time with his work, I think my obsession to get to the city became insatiable. After deciding to take on more public speaking roles, I knew I wanted to travel more. It wasn’t until a week before the speaker submission deadline that a message of Winstina Hughes encouraged me to submit a topic to WordCamp NYC in July.

There Are Firsts For Everything

I was in the process of submitting some other speaker proposals so I gave it a go and was surprised to hear back shortly thereafter that I got accepted. Now after jumping on buying tickets from JetBlue and securing an Airbnb, I waited meticulously for the day to arrive to fly into the city. When I say waited meticulously, I mean I talked about it nonstop for probably four weeks straight. For those of you who think this is really not a big deal, let me just lay down some facts about this trip:

  • This was my first trip ever to NYC.
  • This was my first trip flying with a toddler/as a mom.
  • This was the longest trip we’ve taken as a family thus far.
  • This was the first time I’ve ever been outside the Southeastern US.
  • This was the first time I ever used public transportation.
  • This is also the very first time I would ride in an Uber.

Baby A's First Flight - Studio 404

Hello Brooklyn!

While WordCamp NYC was taking place in Manhattan, I really thought it’d be easier as a family to stay in Brooklyn. We rented a cute one-bedroom in Bed-Stuy which was only minutes from the two major subway stations that we used the whole trip. I’ve also been obsessed with Brooklyn since the 90s. As a 90s kid, Ghostwriter and PBS helped raise me and you couldn’t tell me that Brooklyn wasn’t the best place in the world to live.

Bedford-Stuyvesant - Studio 404

Let’s Never Leave

We spent the first day exploring Brooklyn. We ate pizza. We went to Prospect Park. We walked among the people who called this borough home, taking it all in, and learning how fun it is to get accustomed a fourth-floor walkup. By the end of the day one, I was pretty much convinced that we never needed to leave. I think I had already mentally made a note to call a realtor. I wondered how many things we actually needed to live. I wanted to stay where I was for as long as I could.

The Highline - Studio 404

Day two, we were out and to the subway station as early was we could be without seeming insane. For the first time since WordCamp Atlanta, our toddler slept in a different place peacefully. In fact, New York completely drained her which was fantastic.  We managed to get around Manhattan and back to Brooklyn in one piece. We did some really cool things which I adored and I also learned a lot in just two days. I know there are hundreds of articles about how to visit NYC, especially for parents. Trust me, I read them all. I watched all of the YouTube videos of adorable toddlers on planes. There were just so many things that I experienced firsthand so I thought I would round them all up in one section to help.

The Highline - Studio 404

Tips for Traveling to and Navigating NYC

  • This varies per child, but traveling early in the morning was perfection for our eighteen month-old. She slept for over half of the flight was an absolute angel.
  • Book lodging that makes sense for you. Hotels are TINY in the city. YouTube it if you don’t believe me. We booked an Airbnb because we’ve exclusively done that for the past two or three years and it was such a good choice. It was spacious. The fridge was full-sized so we could stock up on water and milk as needed. I couldn’t say enough kind things about our Airbnb. It was the best.
  • Fly into the closest airport. I was the idiot who booked our tickets and we flew into LaGuardia, which is not so close to Brooklyn. I was nervous because I’d only known people who flew into LGA instead of researching. Also, LaGuardia is tiny which made for long bathroom waits and awkwardly almost getting into the wrong Uber. I know, I’m problematic.
  • Be prepared for Uber. I have lots of friends who have used Uber and were freaked out by how much it costs. I mentally made a note that our trip would be costly ($40-45). We were riding with Uber, specifically because they have carseats. There are sites out there that can help you estimate how much your trip will be. Those estimates were significantly spot on. First-time users also can save money from using codes so be on the lookout for those.
  • Google Maps Walking and Transit is a lifesaver. I use Google Maps every single day and it didn’t fail me at all in New York. We walked around and navigated the subway system like a boss.
  • Bring recyclable bags. Knowing we had to stock up on water and milk at the nearby grocery store, I brought a Baggu recyclable bag with me. Best choice ever! We were able to transport food and groceries without worrying about it spilling over. The best thing about Baggus is that they fold up so small that they fit perfectly in another bag.
  • KT Tape. I have plantar fasciitis so KT taping my arches helped me survive the extra pressure I put on while walking.
  • BRING A STROLLER. I don’t care what anyone says, bring a stroller. I did not. I carried my near thirty pound toddler for five days and I regret every moment of it. There were so many beautifully amazing strollers that I saw other parents using and I was envious the whole time. I hate everyone who ever suggested not bringing a stroller. You are wrong. While I will say I have the back muscles of an Amazonian goddess now because of it, I still regret not having a stroller.
  • The subway is its own boss. I listen to enough podcasts to know that the MTA subways just do what they want when they want. We were delayed ten minutes on one train. The day we were leaving, we couldn’t get into Manhattan because the subways weren’t working. Since it was Monday, we just opted to stay in Brooklyn. Either way, just be prepared for things to go awry. We were fine and mostly everyone on our subway trips were super awesome. I got offered a seat on every trip. The SunRail would never.

Like I said, this article is way longer than I thought it would be. Who knew I had so many thoughts about my trip? I’ll add in some things about visiting the UN, becoming the unofficial representative for Wakanda, and our favorite places to eat and shop next week.  Have you been to New York? Tell me everything you loved so I can plan our next trip!

PS – There are definitely referral links to Airbnb and Uber in the post!

5 thoughts on “A First Trip and Love Letter to New York City – Part 1”

  1. Angel! i can relate. i’ve just recently come back from a 5-day NYC trip (we stayed in BK too – williamsburg) and i lovvvveeeeed every second!!!! haha, i’m also planning my next trip and even a move!

    the energy of nyc was just amazing. my first trip to nyc i was in the more tourist area of manhatten near times square and i hated it. so i’m glad i experienced real life nyc this time bc i cannot get enough.

    now i have to venture there in the winter and make sure my love is true! lol.

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