Category Archives: Living a Life of Liberty

JFK Airport to Manhattan by Subway : Save Yourself Money

Arriving in any big city can be daunting especially if you are sleep deprived, have arrived at some ungodly hour of the morning or night and are burdened down with luggage. It may be tempting to think, “stuff it, I’ll get a taxi” and that’s a fair enough decision, but be aware that it will set you back approx. US$55 to get to mid-town Manhattan. A shuttle may seem like a simple hassle-free forward and simple option but it has two major down sides. At approx. $20/person it is significantly more expensive than public transport and not much less than a taxi for 2 people. Secondly then ride can be frustrating long if you are the first on the shuttle and the last to be dropped off. Uber is great but can pricey if there is surge pricing at the time you want it.

By taking a combination of the JFK AirTrain and a single MTA Subway pass you can travel into the heart of Manhattan for only 8.50/person. It will probably take you 1-1.5 hours but if you are on a budget that is a significant saving. Depending on how many days you are staying in New York you may choose to buy a 7 day MTA pass which costs US$30. If you are going from JFK to Brooklyn or lower Manhattan you need to take the Air Train to the Howard Beach subway station and catch the A train. If you are heading to mid-town Manhattan then take the Air Train to Jamaica Station and catch the subway to 34 th St Penn Station.

It’s a good idea to have studied at the subway map online before arriving. You can check it again at the subway station and every train carriage has one too. On every train route there are both “Express” and “Local” trains. “Express” trains do not stop at every station and are therefore faster while “Local” trains stop at every station and therefore gives a slower commute. On the map express stops are represented by a white dot and local stops by a black dot. Passengers on an express train need to swap to a local train if their end destination is only a local stop. It makes sense to do this at the last express stop before your local one. This is easy to do as the local and express trains are just across the platform from each other.

If you plan to take the subway from JFK into Manhattan, Brooklyn or Queens it is best to consider where the subway stations are in relation to the accommodation you are looking at booking. Preferably book something within a short walking distance of a station. If it is too far away then you might need to catch a MTA bus across to your hotel or take a short taxi ride which should be less than $10.

Photo: Jacqueline Onassis Reservoir, Central Park, NYC.

10 Things I Always Do Before a Long Trip

1. Go to the Dentist.

Sure if you’re going to Thailand or Mexico you might wait and get cheaper dental treatment there, but when I’m going to North America where dentist visits are likely to be more expensive than back in NZ I get my checkup done at home before I leave. I have a good relationship with my dentist – she knows my teeth well and I trust her to do a good job.

2. Go to the podiatrist.

Since I do a lot of walking on trips, I want to make sure I don’t have any corns etc.

I don’t wear orthotics or have any special problems, I just like to go give my feet a tune up before I go. I usually throw away my old pair of sneakers and take a new pair on the trip, so they still have plenty of cushioning. I make sure I have some band-aides with me to prevent any initial blisters.
Also, feet can get dry and cracked from walking around in flip flops and sandals on dirty streets so I like to have a good moisturizer with me when I travel so I can treat mine in the evenings after a long day out walking.

3. Make sure my Mum knows where my Will is (and where I have assets).

It’s morbid but I make sure my Mum can locate my Will and that she knows where I have assets dotted about the place e.g., my Paypal account and various investment accounts.

4. Check my Driver’s License isn’t about to expire.

I’m assuming everyone checks their passport expiry but don’t forget to check the expiry on your Driver’s license.

5. Check my Credit Card and back up Credit Card expiry dates.

As above – to make sure these aren’t going to expire while away.

6. Cancel any automatic payments for services you won’t be using while you are away e.g power and phone.

7. Store your jewelry and precious things in a safe place. I only travel with a few pieces of jewelry that I wear every day. I’d be too scared to lose items if I took more. As we were renting out our house while overseas long term, I asked my mother to keep after my jewelry at her house.

8. Get a haircut and colour before I leave. When I travel I’m usually so busy that this would’nt get done otherwise. In countries where English is not the dominant language it would also be more difficult to communicate what I want.

9. Check any upcoming tax return/s are done and due payments made. Either that or I have to make sure I have online access to all the information that I need (or physically take it) do my tax return online when I’m travelling.

10. Spend time with my Momma.

I always spend more time with my Mum prior to going away. This trip I’m staying with her for a few days before I go because our tenant is moving in before we depart.

Photo Credit: The Stig under Creative Commons license

10 conversation topics that may come in handy when travelling

Okay, so picture the scene: you’re sat on a packed bus or train, heading off to your next destination; you’re tired, you can’t wait to get to where you’re headed, but you’re also bored, and that person sat next to you seems to want to talk. So, what do you talk about?

All too often we head to the same topics when meeting likeminded travellers, namely where are you from, what do you do, and how long are you travelling for?

Sound familiar?

After about five minutes the conversation dries up and you head into awkward territory. With that in mind, here are ten conversation topics you can use the next time you’re sat next to a potential chat buddy.

1) The weather.
Yes, we all do it at some point, it’s the conversation starter of years gone by, but it works! Breaking the ice by talking about how stinking hot it is, how freezing cold it is, or simply how weird the rain was last night, is the perfect in-road into a free-flowing conversation.

2) Where your travels will take you.
It’s easy to ask how long someone has been travelling for, or where they’ve been, but asking where they are likely to be heading to may find you a travel buddy, or at least fill an awkward silence.

3) Have you met any interesting people on the road?
Everyone has a story to tell about the strange person they met on a train to such and such a place, and it’s usually quite an amusing one to share.

4) Do you have any ideas on where I could head to next?
Similar to the question about where their travel is going to go to, asking someone if they have any ideas on places you could see and experience in the future may throw up a few places you never thought of.

5) How do you plan your travels?
Picking the brain of someone in the same sort of situation as you could yield a few ideas you never thought of on how to get about, how to plan it all, where to buy cheap tickets from etc.

6) How your family and friends feel about your travels.
I find this a useful one, because it’s always interesting to get a perspective on how other people’s nearest and dearest view their travels and adventures. Not everyone reacts the same way, so it could be an interesting topic to discuss.

7) Tips on how to store photographs/memories.
You don’t want to lose your precious travel snaps, and whilst you may be relying on one particular method, someone else may suggest something that will suit you better.

8) Where is your dream destination?
Everyone loves to talk about far off plans and possible exotic locations, so asking about that number one, dream destination is a topic nobody will turn down.

9) Food, glorious food!
Eating on the road is hard, so any tips of different meals and ways to eat healthily, or maybe even new cuisines to try, is very gratefully received!

10) What you miss about home?
Travel is all very well and good, but we all miss certain things about not being in our home sweet home. Discussing this topic with someone who may feel the same way about things is good therapy, if nothing else!

It’s important to at least chat a little to people you meet on the way, otherwise what is the point? You might not feel like it, and I’m not suggesting you pour out your life story, but a little company in what can be a lonely experience if you let it be, could be just the thing you need.

Photo Credit: Zeepack under Creative Commons license.