New York, New York…

My Evernote is (figuratively) bulging at the seams. I’ve finally seen fit to organise my notes into folders, and right now my note containing Things To See And Do In The US is grossly inflated. That’s mostly thanks to New York, skewing everything! It looks like we’ll be there for a full week in September, but I doubt we’ll be bored somehow. If you’re looking for things to do in New York there are plenty of resources online, plus I’ve got no shortage of recommendations from friends.

A few weeks ago I went into a slight panic when one of my best friends (who’s off to Minnesota, I think, for a conference later in the year) asked if I’d applied for our visas yet. As far as I knew, the only places we wouldn’t get a waiver would be Cambodia and Vietnam. But in its paranoid and profit-seeking ways, I guess the government has to make things complicated and take its cut:

International travelers who are seeking to travel to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) are now subject to enhanced security requirements and will be required to pay an administrative fee. All eligible travelers who wish to travel to the U.S. under the Visa Waiver Program must apply for authorization and then pay the fee using the following process…

And so I paid the $30 fee and went through the ESTA rigmarole online. I tried not to freak out when we weren’t both immediately approved. Thankfully, a few days later I checked back in and found that we’d both been cleared. That’s about as much as we can do; from here on in we’re at the mercy of airport officials when we land, I suppose.

I’ve booked an apartment rental for our last few days in New York through a Wimdu host with good reviews (we want to stay somewhere nice for T’s birthday), but I’ve yet to decide what we’ll do for the days before that. Hospitality exchange hosts generally don’t want to commit until a few weeks ahead (I personally prefer not to when hosting) but given it’s New York, waiting seems risky when accommodation is so in demand. Do we wait and hedge our bets on finding an awesome free/cheap host who’ll show us the city from his or her POV, or shell out now for a guaranteed place to lay our heads?

15 thoughts on “New York, New York…

  • Reply CashRebel April 4, 2013 at 01:05

    Im going to NY this week and I had originally planned on using airbnb to find a place to stay until I realized I had a friend I could stay with.

  • Reply Linda April 4, 2013 at 03:03

    Yes, there is *a lot* to do in NYC! Simply walking around is quite entertaining and costs nothing. 🙂

    Do you have to put down a non-refundable deposit to reserve some place to stay? If you simply need the assurance that you’ll have a place to crash for the night, most hotels allow you to cancel a reservation up to a day in advance with no penalties. I’m not sure how hostels work, but it could be similar. Book your nights, and as you get closer to the time you’ll be there you can release the reservations as you get free or less expensive places to stay.

    • Reply eemusings April 4, 2013 at 12:17

      Yeah – some places do require a small non refundable deposit. That’s a good idea, might think about doing that!

      Private apartment rentals vary, some have quite strict refund policies, some are looser. The Wimdu place we booked is basically nonrefundable, but some hosts offer significant refunds up until a short time before the day.

  • Reply Leslie April 4, 2013 at 04:06

    I understand if you want the assurance but things do happen very last minute here. Even if you started looking a month before your arrival, I know you’ll find something.

    • Reply eemusings April 4, 2013 at 12:18

      Thank you for the reassurance 🙂

  • Reply Debt and the Girl April 4, 2013 at 08:34

    Wow, I envy all the traveling you are getting to do. Good luck with everything and I hope you have a lot of fun on your trip!

  • Reply Michelle April 4, 2013 at 15:12

    The VWP is no big deal. I work in immigration (work with int. students in the U.S.)…in my opinion it helps pay for the administration of other immigration programs. Smart!

  • Reply Tony@WeOnlyDoThisOnce April 4, 2013 at 15:51

    NYC might be a difficult place to book last minute with hosting sites, as you point out. Better safe than sorry!

  • Reply Mo' Money Mo' Houses April 4, 2013 at 16:57

    Ooo I’ve never heard of Wimdu before. Thanks for the tip!

  • Reply Holly@ClubThrifty April 5, 2013 at 00:08

    I LOVE NYC. We were just there in February. I hope that you have an amazing time!

  • Reply The Norwegian Girl April 5, 2013 at 00:41

    I am sooo envious of you.. I´ve always wanted to go to NYC! If I were you I`d make sure that I were guaranteed a place to stay. I think not knowing where to stay would be too stressful for me, especially in a foreign country.

  • Reply Brian April 5, 2013 at 02:40

    Yeah, you won’t be bored in New York. We were there for for days and still missed so much. If you’re coming through Vancouver, let us know!

  • Reply Marie at Family Money Values April 5, 2013 at 05:22

    Sometimes I feel like I need a visa or permit to travel to NYC – AND I LIVE IN THE US!

  • Reply Mochimac @ Save. Spend. Splurge. April 5, 2013 at 12:33

    I can’t remember if I gave this link to you, but it’s my NYC money-saving guide.

    Simple money saving guide to visiting NYC

  • Reply Stephanie April 5, 2013 at 17:04

    There are enough hotels and motels near/around NYC such that you shouldn’t have to worry too much about getting a room if you’re not too particular about location. The public transportation in that area may not be amazing compared to newer systems, but is sufficient enough for you to stay at a place right outside the city if you have to. Finally, I don’t know whether you and T are into the nightlife at all, but the hotels are home to a good chunk of it, so if you find a place in the city that’s not too expensive, it might be worth it to stay there.

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