First time in NYC? Or maybe you’ve been here before but want to do it better this time around. This ever-changing city requires a certain amount of gusto, spontaneity, and street smarts unrivaled by any other municipality on the planet. Therefore, you’re going to need a few things you may not typically consider “essentials” in your bag. Below is a list of 6 things I recommend throwing in your bag just-in-case.
1. Tote or Backpack
Before continuing on with this list, make sure you have a bag that will fit everything. I have my go-to Matt & Nat vegan leather backpack and tote (both in black, because NYC) and I use them every time I step out during the day. If you think you might buy something, bring a small reusable bag you can fold up and stuff in a pocket.
No matter how many times my friends and family members visit me in NYC, they are always surprised at how much we will walk on a typical evening out on the town. If it’s a beautiful weekend day? Forget it. We’ll be logging 5-8 miles walking around various neighborhoods. NYC is a HUGE and completely walker-friendly city. Case in point: bring band-aids. You can wear your comfy, three year worn-in Chucks, and still wind up with blisters, so err on the side of caution if you’re not used to walking long distances.
3. Hand Sanitizer
You’ll touch doorknobs and money and whatever else like you typically would…but in NYC you also have to factor in everything you touch on public transportation. Hand rails, turnstiles, seats…you get the picture. Millions of people use public transportation every day and I guarantee you that one day, you’ll grab onto a handrail while standing on the subway only to feel something wet/sticky/gooey. Hand sanitizer with essential oils and natural ingredients will save the day and potentially your life (okay that’s an exaggeration, but still).
Stay hydrated. All day. Every day. Going underground and in and out of climate-controlled buildings and walking miles each day will put a huge strain on your body. Be kind to yourself and drink water. If you don’t want to carry around a reusable water bottle, plan to stop for something to drink at least every two hours. In the summer, there are city-funded water bottle refill stations all over the city so it’ll be easy to stay hydrated if you do decide to schlep around your own bottle.
Public transportation makes getting around the city pretty easy, but that doesn’t mean you’ll get to your destination quickly. From my apartment in Harlem to my go-to spot in Brooklyn takes I spend over an hour on the train. Bring a book or magazine in case you find yourself on a long train ride or on a extremely slow, delayed train (this is very likely, FYI). And if world-class people watching isn’t enough for you, having a book handy will be a great excuse to stop by a park bench or lie in the grass for a bit to relax.
6. Light Scarf (Spring/Summer)
You WILL get use out of this one, trust me. If you’re on a highly air-conditioned train for a long period of time, you might want to throw a scarf over your shoulders or use it as a shawl in a movie theater. Or my personal favorite, throw it down for a nap at the park or a reading break in the middle of the day.
7. External Phone Charger
This is probably the MOST important item to keep with you. Between Instagram and Google Maps, this city will drain your battery. I use my lipstick-size external charger almost every day. Having it handy is so much better than ducking into a bar/cafe/library and hunting for an outlet.
8. Skin Essentials
I’m sure I don’t need to remind you, but as per usual, make sure you have a small lotion and lip balm in your bag (the freebie samples you swipe from your dermatologist’s waiting room are perfect). I also keep a tiny Sephora sample size of perfume and these oil blotters in my bag. You never know how long you’ll be out when you leave your apartment in the morning so be prepared for everything.
And there you have it! Now you can take on this city with no hesitations.