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Summer New York Packing List To Live Like A Local

Bed-Stuy garden and stoop

We spent a Summer in New York City in 2013 and it was HOT!

Here is a list of 10 practical items that I found very helpful in my day to day life there. I recommend you consider having these things with you if you are planning to spend any time in New York City over the Summer months.
You can bring them with you but most would be easy enough to buy once you’re here.

1. Cooler Bag

Years ago I was given a small soft-walled cooler box and we have used it SO much when travelling in hot countries. Every day we go into town for the morning or afternoon and we buy treat eats and groceries that we want to keep cool until we return to our apartment. It’s brilliant and even better if you put in a small bottle of frozen water for your outing. The day we forgot our cooler bag the frosting on our doughnuts melted off!

Soft Cooler Bag (or as Kiwi's say a Chilly Bin)
Soft Cooler Bag (or what Kiwi’s call a “Chilly Bin”)

2. Bike Helmet if you want to use the Citi Bikes.

It really is essential to wear a bike helmet here. You’d be crazy if you didn’t. The roads are busy and pedestrians are notorious for jay-walking and ignoring traffic signals.
New York has just started the wonderful Citi Bike sharing system where you can rent a bike from a bike portal at any one of hundreds of locations all over Manhattan and Brooklyn. You need to provide your own helmet. The NYC Department of Transport runs events several times a month where they fit you with a free helmet. It’s on their website. I am hoping to get a free helmet from them in a few days ๐Ÿ™‚

3. Night Eye Shades for a good night’s sleep.

The sun rises at 0530 here and we often find that apartment curtains and shutters don’t do a great job of blocking out the morning sun. Both Kate and I wear eye shades at night which allow us to sleep to a decent hour. Without them Kate wakes at 6 am. We just use the ones they give you on long haul flights.

Sleeping Eye Shades

4. Ear Plugs

Our apartment is quiet but bringing ear plugs is a good idea. You never know when there is going to be a loud party in the street ( like there was on the 4th July) or perhaps your apartment has significant street noise.

5. A Collapsible Umbrella

Most Summer days are sunny and hot but NYC does get frequent thunder storms with brief downpours. We brought raincoats but a collapsible umbrella would have been much more practical.

5. A good Deodorant!

As I said, it’s stinking hot here (excuse the pun) at the moment, especially down in the subway while your waiting for a train. Fortunately the train carriages themselves are air-conditioned. It would be unbearable if they weren’t.

6. An Hand-Held Fan

As I said, it’s especially hot down in the subway stations. Yesterday I twice waited 20 mins for the C train because of problems on the line and it wasn’t pretty. I had sweat running down places you don’t want to know!
Fans might seem a bit old fashioned but I’ve seen a couple of women using them and wish I had one. I’ve been on the lookout for one to buy but haven’t seen any so far. I’ve improvised with my hat a few times but it isn’t very effective.

7. Entertainment for the Subway Ride

Depending on where you are staying/subletting the subway ride to and from Manhattan may take anywhere from 15-50 minutes each way. “People watching” on the subway quickly loses it’s novelty and commuters often take this captive time to listen to music, read a book, listen to a podcast or study. Kate always has podcasts downloaded onto her Iphone to listen too. Of course you must have ear pieces so you don’t disturb other people on the carriage.

8. Your Own Subway Map.

Ask at any subway station booth for a subway Map. They are free and very useful as you are not always seated close to the map that’s posted on each carriage wall, and if the carriage is full you can’t move to get a look at it.

Cell phones don’t usually have any coverage deep in the subway. Kate has an US Sim card in her smart phone and this has been brilliant. No need for a physical map as we have Google Maps ๐Ÿ™‚ If you plug in where you are and where you want to go, it will give you directions and times on different forms of transport. It will even tell you when the next subway or bus is due!

9. Snacks and Fluids to keep your energy up.

It’s hard work being a tourist and/or resident of New York. It’s a big busy place, it’s hot, there are many things to do and it takes a lot of time to get around, especially if you are coming in and out of Manhattan from Brooklyn or Queens. If there are problems with a subway line you can have lengthy waits or may have to walk to another station. Often the only food and beverage shops close by are expensive. It’s best to have your own bottle of water and a favourite snack handy to keep you hydrated and your blood sugars up. this is where having the best travel purse with room to fit these items as well as your ipad/iphone/Kindle etc comes into it’s own.

10. An Elasticated Travel Clothes Line with Pegs.

I don’t travel overseas without mine. It has sucker pads at each end to stick to the bathroom tiles. I can’t be bothered going to a laundromat to wash small items. I wash my shirts, shorts, smalls etc in the bathroom sink and hang them up over the bath. If I do a few items every 1-2 days I keep on top of my washing just fine.

Elasticated Travel Clothes Line

Bonus Tip 11. A Urinary Catheter!

Only joking but sometimes I wish I had one ๐Ÿ™‚ It seems I always need to go as soon as we get to Manhattan. There are very few public toilets in the city and if you’re like me you don’t want to pay to use the loo. Here are a few locations: there are toilets in all Wholefoods shops; large fast-food chains of course; on the first landing of the New York Marriott Marquis on Broadway just off Times Square; Bryant Park has a clean public toilet and the New York Public Library (5th Ave and 42nd St) next door has toilets; the Time Warner Center at Columbus Circle has toilets.

1 Comment


  1. // Reply

    Interesting packing list suggestions! You made me laugh when I read about the soft cooler. Havenยดt used one of those in a few moons… Cheers!

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