While we were in NYC in September 2013 Kathryn’s parents came for a visit for a few days. Her Dad was in his late 70s and he has some mobility issues, but despite that he lives to travel. September is an ideal month for older people to visit NYC as the weather is still warm but milder than summer, when temps get into the 90sF/mid 30s C.
Here are some tips for visiting NYC with older parents.
1. They can get a half price metro card, but you’ll have to apply for it.
Here’s the application. It’s free but you have to have it notarized and it can take 2-4 weeks. Anyone over 65 or people with disabilities can get it. If you have easy access to someone who can notarize it for you, it’s worth filing the form.
Your metro card will be valid for the trains and busses. The unlimited ride passes are the best value and come in weekly and monthly versions. Weekly is $30 at full price or $15 at half price reduced fare. Access these by selecting “add time” rather than “add money” on the ticket machines in the stations. If this is your first trip to New York and/or your first experience of using the subway system, I have written a helpful and straight forward post on how to use the NYC subway. BTW – If you have a trip to Paris planned some time in the near future check out our useful and succinct post on the price of Paris subway tickets, A.K.A “le Metro”.
2. Get a map with wheelchair accessible subway stations.
Subway stations can have a lot of stairs.
Some transfer points require a lot of walking e.g., walking between the A/C/E line at Port Authority/42nd st and the 1/2/3/Q/N/R/7/S lines at Times Square 42nd St.
You can avoid some of the walking by using wheelchair accessible stairs. Busses are very accommodating of wheelchair passengers and “kneel” to make it easier to board for people who find large step ups hard.
People will usually offer a seat for an older person on the subway/busses if there are none available. If no one offers and you need a seat, ask. In NYC, sometimes you need to be bold.
Free maps are available from the station attendant and are very useful. Stations with elevators are marked as wheelchair accessible. Other stations do not have elevators.
3. Take i.d. showing birth date everywhere..
Most attractions have seniors pricing. Often this is half price. It’s well worth utilizing it since attractions like museums can be spendy in NYC.
4. Start your day late.
Shops typically don’t open till 10am or 11am in NYC. Things like banks open earlier but, as an example, the box offices for the theaters don’t open till 10am everyday except Sunday when they don’t open till noon. Since you’ll probably be up late. Pace yourself but having a cruisey morning. Sleep late, go eat a leisurely brunch somewhere, or go on an early morning bagel run and enjoy bagels with delicious toppings and coffee for breakfast (e.g Ess-a-bagel).
5. Restaurant chairs are not comfortable in NYC.
There is a theory that restaurant chairs in NYC are designed to be uncomfortable to discourage people from staying too long, so the restaurant can get folks in and out quickly. You might prefer less trendy but more comfortable options. Kathryn’s parents got delicious deli made-to-order sandwiches a lot because that was what they wanted and it was much cheaper that eating at a restaurant. If you’re staying in accommodation with a coffee maker why not save money and make your own coffee, getting a regular caffeine hit from your own spill proof travel mug.
You don’t need an apartment for preparing food as you can buy food at Wholefoods and microwave it there. They have pleasant seating. 59th St is my favorite Wholefoods location for eating lunch or dinner at. 14th St is nice. The Houston St location is nice to sit at but the location is not as convenient as the other two.
6. Just go! – There are some fantastic deals, especially out of London. Hunt around online and you should find something awesome. You can also try our advanced flight search tips if you want to learn how to find flights Ninja style. For e.g I used this method back in November 2013 to find out flights from Washington to Mexico for $205, 1 day before the flight!