NYC Packing List: Everything You Need to Bring to the Big Apple

May 10, 2018

To combat being asked this question over and over again, I’ve devised the perfect NYC packing list. From the essentials to activity-specific belongings, use my list to gather everything you need for your trip to the Big Apple.

Growing up in Western Connecticut, I was fortunate to spend much of my childhood exploring New York City, which was only a short train ride away. As such, I’ve become the “NYC expert” among my friends who live in other states. Without fail, the first thing they always ask is “What should I pack?

woman stuffing black suitcase full of clothes while sittingBegin With the Basics

Every reliable NYC packing list starts with a solid foundation: your clothes and toiletries.

However, before you begin organizing outfits for your trip, check the weather forecast. Since the North experiences the extremes of all four seasons, I recommend bringing layered clothing. A spring trip to NYC could mean anything from a sudden snow flurry to a sunny day in the mid-80s.

Related Post: The Most Festive Things to Do in New York City for Christmas

On the other end of the spectrum, if you plan to visit during the Christmas season, bring a warm coat, mittens, a hat, and a scarf—it’ll be super cold!

Clothing

To build the perfect packing list for your vacation, start with these basic clothing items:

  • Undergarments
  • Layered Outfits
  • Comfortable Walking Shoes
  • Socks
  • Pants
  • Shorts
  • Swimsuit
  • T-Shirts/Blouses
  • Sweater or Sweatshirts
  • Jacket, appropriate for the season
  • Pajamas
  • Hat
  • Sunglasses
  • Gloves
  • Scarf

Toiletries

Of course, personal toiletries are essential for all travel plans. If you should forget an item, call down to the front desk of your hotel for assistance.

Related Post: 3 Days in New York City This Fall

Or, go to one of the hundreds of Duane Reade convenience stores on virtually every block in NYC.

  • Toothbrush and Toothpaste
  • Eyewear Necessities
  • Deodorant
  • Shampoo
  • Hair Conditioner
  • Face Wash
  • Soap
  • Razors
  • Shaving Cream
  • Tweezers
  • Q-Tips
  • Makeup
  • Hairbrush/Comb
  • Hairdryer
  • Hair Products
  • Personal Medicines
  • Lip Balm
  • Moisturizer

Miscellaneous Travel Items

While clothing and toiletries are crucial for every NYC packing list, packing these miscellaneous items is your call.

Related Post: How to Visit New York City on a Budget

Many travelers find these items to be handy but they are not required packing.

  • Camera
  • Camera Batteries and/or Charger
  • Cell Phone Charger
  • Laptop and Charger
  • Umbrella
  • Backpack
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • Pens
  • Book/Magazines
  • Neck Pillow
  • Printed Hotel Reservations
  • Printed Tour/Activity/Attraction Tickets
  • Travel Itinerary and Map

After you’ve packed the basics, it’s time to double-check that you have everything you need for your NYC vacation itinerary.

Packing Per Activity

Telling you that there is so much to do and see in New York City is the understatement of the year. Every time I visit I discover somewhere or something new.

Related Post: 45 Unbelievable Facts About New York City

First-time visitors tend to do these four activities:

To craft your NYC packing list, select your activity from the list above.

Explore and Tour NYC

In my opinion, one of the best ways to experience NYC is by walking around the five boroughs. Put on a pair of comfortable walking shoes, grab your camera, and explore!

Related Post: A Tourist’s Guide to Exploring the 5 Boroughs of NYC

Of course, for those less familiar with the Subway system and the city itself, there are hundreds of tours to help you get acquainted with NYC.

If you plan on touring NYC, bring along these items:

  • Comfortable Shoes
  • Weather Appropriate, Layered Attire
  • Light Jacket
  • Purse/Backpack
  • Camera
  • Extra Batteries/Charger
  • Refillable Water Bottle
  • Extra Cash
  • Valid ID/Driver’s License
  • Map or GPS App
  • Loaded Metro Card

Should you choose to discover the beauty of the city on your own, make sure you have a thorough understanding of how to get around NYC.

Related Post: Your Must-Have Guide to Getting Around NYC

Taxis aren’t always the best method of transportation!

Get Tickets to a Broadway Show

If you visit NYC, you have to see a Broadway show. Even if you’re not into musical theater, today’s lineup of shows includes something for everyone.

Related Post: Where to Eat Before a Broadway Show: 10 Places to Go

And, the excuse of expensive tickets is no longer valid. There are plenty of ways to find affordable Broadway show tickets.

Once you’ve selected your perfect show and secured tickets, make sure you pack the following:

  • Appropriate Attire
  • Printed Tickets
  • Purse/Wallet
  • Valid ID/Driver’s License
  • Extra Cash

A common misconception is that audience members must dress to the nines when seeing a Broadway show. While this is no longer the standard, you should look nice.

Related Post: NYC After Dark: The Top Things to Do in NYC at Night

I always recommend that audience members dress as though they are going to a nice restaurant. You don’t need to be fancy, just presentable.

Also, it is important to note what is not allowed inside NYC theaters.

The majority of theaters do not allow the use of cameras inside their theater and during performances for copyright and safety reasons. If you want a picture to commemorate your Broadway experience, take pictures of the marquee and stage (if permitted) before the show. Then, stand by the stage door after the show to grab a selfie with the cast!

Related Post: Using the NYC Subway Doesn’t Have to Be Scary

Remember that outside food and beverages are prohibited in all theaters. If you’re hungry, head over to the concessions stand before the show or during intermission.

Stroll through NYC Museums

From the Metropolitan Museum of Art to the American Museum of Natural History, NYC is home to a wide array of renowned museums. There is no limit to what you could learn while roaming the halls of these hallowed museums.

For a memorable museum experience, remember to add these items to your NYC packing list:

  • Weather Appropriate Attire
  • Light Jacket
  • Comfortable Walking Shoes
  • Valid ID/Driver’s License
  • Printed Museum Tickets
  • Purse/Wallet
  • Extra Cash
  • Camera
  • Camera Batteries or Charger
  • Cell Phone and Charger

To ensure the safety of all guests, NYC museums may prohibit certain items from entering, such as selfie sticks. Before you embark on your day of museum hopping, double-check the rules and restrictions each museum may have.

Experience NYC’s Outdoor Adventures

Although NYC may be a concrete jungle, tourists can still explore the great outdoors while visiting the city.

Related Post: How to Spend a Day in New York City with Kids

You can find everything from bike tours to amusement parks to jet skiing and kayaking in New York City.

Should you choose to add an outdoor adventure to your itinerary, bring these belongings with you:

  • Comfortable and Activity Appropriate Attire
  • Sneakers
  • Swimsuit
  • Towel
  • Sunscreen
  • Picnic Blanket
  • Refillable Water Bottle
  • Snacks
  • Hat
  • Sunglasses

Your chosen activity operator may provide you with details about what to bring for your adventure. If so, refer to these suggestions when compiling your NYC packing list.

Create Your Own NYC Packing List

Once you’ve packed the essentials and accounted for your New York City travel plans, you’re all set to explore!

Have you been to NYC before? What did you pack for your adventure? Share your experiences in the comments below.

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