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New York virgin

(42 Posts)
petal2008 Wed 05-Sep-12 18:16:32

Not a virgin from New York but my first visit!

Has anyone got any great tips, do's and don'ts?

Am feeling a bit nervous about trip and don't want to upset the natives.


mathanxiety Fri 07-Sep-12 20:26:27

Go out to Brighton Beach for 'neighborhood' atmosphere of the recent immigrant variety (very Russian/Ukrainian).

People who work in service occupations in the US are taxed not just on their official income. The Internal Revenue Service estimates their tip income and demands that estimate be paid. They base their estimate at a rate of about 20%. If you tip less you are actually costing the taxi driver or waiter.

International phonecard is a very good idea. You can buy minutes online too - look at celtictel . com for instance.

Photo ID very important also.

Don't buy DVDs as they are not compatible with European/British players.

AttilaTheMeerkat Fri 07-Sep-12 21:34:30

You can buy DVDs if you already own a multi region DVD player; such players can play region 2 (US) discs.

Blu-rays are different; many of these on sale are only compatible and for the US market. If you do not see on the reverse a triangle with the letters A B and C on it then do not buy. US Wii games on sale are also not compatible with UK systems.

petal2008 Sat 08-Sep-12 14:34:33

Someone suggested getting a money "passport" and paying for everything on that. You load your dollars on and it's either visa or mastercard and apparently loads of places take them that take visa etc. Has anyone used one? A lady in money exchange here said that they don't have chip n pin over there (?) so you sign for everything which can get a bit dodgy - but are the money passports chip n pin?

Thought about taking one and some cash for drinks and tips etc. Plus credit card for emergencies.

Checked with our mobile provider here and the USA roaming rates are astronomical a rip off. DH and I probably won't take a phone as it won't bother us but DS will think his arm has been cut off without his iphone. Guy in phone shop suggested taking a phone and just buying a SIM card over there and using it as pay as you go just for sending txts etc. It's the internet that costs the most - about £3 per mb and as DS uses about 100 week so that's totally out of the question! I suppose you could disable the internet and just use wifi that's available - bit rubbish with all this techno stuff.

Great tips - thanks everyone!

petal2008 Sat 08-Sep-12 14:38:51

Another question - sorry!

Realise immigration at airport will probably be lengthy (fingerprinted shock) - how long is the "average" time to get through do you think?

mathanxiety Sat 08-Sep-12 15:54:39

That would be a prepaid visa 'gift card'. They are accepted wherever you see the visa sign. They are all signature cards afaik. You will need some sort of photo ID with a signature included if anyone asks you for proof of identity when you use one.

You can reload them. You can register the card and report if it disappears -- keep the phone number and card number separate from the card so you will have it if you need it.

Tips on buying a SIM card. They are not cheap.

Advice from the British Embassy -- see esp the instruction on the ESTA requirement if you are travelling under the visa waiver programme.
ESTA website.

MrsJohnDeere Sat 08-Sep-12 16:08:17

We queued for about 2 hours last year.

PandaNot Sat 08-Sep-12 18:21:42

We've always waited between 2 and 3 hours at JFK, bit less at Newark.

AttilaTheMeerkat Sat 08-Sep-12 21:01:59

Which airport are you flying into?. At JFK you may well be herded about or shouted at.

Newark's lines tend to be a bit shorter as they have more immigration staff on duty. You will all be fingerprinted and photographed on arrival into the US - this is what the Americans do these days. This is also why I suggested you tell your son beforehand so you are not surprised.

No chip and pin machines in NYC - all credit card purchases are signed for. This is also why photo id is requested beforehand - to try and cut down on such fraud.

American banking is not as sophisticated as the UK system; I know of the cards that have been suggested but have never used one there. I tend to use cash and credit cards instead.

Visa pre-paid cards are expensive in terms of fees so would avoid. The ones I have seen for sale in Sainsburys are particularly expensive and only are for a small sum.

If you have a photocard driving licence bring that. It is handy for photo id purposes.

Your son may well have to do without his Iphone for a few days, the rates for such usage is astronomical. Also his IPhone may not work in the US anyway even with a new SIM (incompatible phone systems). I would therefore ask him to leave his IPhone at home; he is on holiday with his parents after all and so can live without it for a few days!.

A mobile phone is only useful to check if the taxi driver is in arrivals on return to the UK (this is the only time we use a phone on holiday). We buy an international prepaid phonecard from Walgreens (big pharmacy chain) if you want to call the UK. $20 for at least 4 hours of talk time is a bargain!.

petal2008 Sun 09-Sep-12 12:32:53

Flying into JFK. Am prepared for the wait but after a seven hour flight not looking forward to it.

Think will leave the phone at home and perhaps just take mine for emergencies as it is not a smartphone. I hardly ever use it anyway as I have few friends

Will I have to prebook a taxi bearing in mind there will be three of us with at least three suitcases and two lots of handbaggage?

hifi Sun 09-Sep-12 12:53:09

theres loads of cabs outside,you may need a people carier type tho. we went last year and a cabbie asked us if we wanted a ride,he took us to the car park and we got in a very swanky car. cost double the normal fare as it was a "luxury car". does your hotel offer a transfer service?

times square a night is a great expierience. theres the huge toys r us and Disney,all super low prices compared with here.

buy all your american brand cosmetics on the way out at duty free,clinique is well cheap.
also if you are buying loads to take back your luggage will be weighed in pounds not kilos.

AttilaTheMeerkat Sun 09-Sep-12 14:28:44

What you will need is a taxi van rather than a standard taxi but these are available at JFK, you need to look for "ground transportation". Would not think you need to pre-book as there are also taxi dispatchers who organize the taxis.

You will not see a sign saying "Toilets" anywhere; they are called "Restrooms".

(BTW if you happen to bank with Barclays you can use the Bank of America ATM machines without incurring a whole load of extra charges as they are linked)

One more thing; if you take a debit card with you do tell the card provider beforehand so they can set the appropriate marker on it, failure to do so could see the debit card being stopped.

petal2008 Sun 09-Sep-12 15:00:26

cost double the normal fare

What is the usual fare - the hotel is about 15 miles apparently?

AttilaTheMeerkat Sun 09-Sep-12 15:27:00

For trips between (to and from) Manhattan and JFK International Airport, the flat fare is $52.00 plus any tolls using Rate Code 2 on the meter. A NY State Tax Surcharge of $.50 will be added to each trip.

blue2 Sun 09-Sep-12 15:34:22

I would book your seats as far forward as possible on the flight so that you have a reasonable chance of being somewhere in the middle of the immigration queue rather than the back (Speaks from experience)

BellaVita Sun 09-Sep-12 16:03:11

We paid $45 plus tolls which came to $51 plus tip each way - it is the same price from JFK to wherever you go in Manhattan.

We had no problem in getting a cab.

petal2008 Sun 09-Sep-12 16:34:48

Thanks for all advice and tips.

mathanxiety Sun 09-Sep-12 21:22:04

On top of the fare plus tolls you would need to tip.

It might be cheaper to take public transportation even though you will be knackered and lugging baggage. Air Train pros and cons and general info here.
AirTrain website here.

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