New Amsterdam, eh I mean New York needs no introduction so I will spare you the usual, tired references and cliches.
If you are headed to New York and wondering what to pack then you are in the right place. Here you’ll find your ultimate New York survival guide with step-by-step instructions on what to pack for New York with options that are both functional and fashionable.
Ready? Let’s get to it!
The Ultimate New York Packing List
Most trips to be New York are short and intense. Staying for 2 – 4 days means you can general pack fairly light and even rely on “carry-on” luggage. However, it is absolutely vital to dress and prepare for the season. Let’s take a look at what to bring to New York.
Alternative Luggage: AER Travel Pack 2
The perfect backpack for a New York trip. The AER 2 backpack is fully featured, big enough to hold an extended weekend of clothing, and tough enough to last years of travel abuse.
I have taken the AER Travel Pack 2 on multiple trips and since then it has risen has in the ranks of my go-to travel backpacks. Packing for New York needn’t be too heavy an affair so a light bag like this one is perfect.
Check out our AER Travel Pack 2 review to learn more.
A Suitcase: Nomatic Carry-On Pro
Backpacks not your thing? That’s ok. Our friends at Nomatic are back again with a great alternative to their badass Travel Bag; the Nomatic Carry-On Pro.
This suitcase is ultra-durable, sleek, and comes with a handy tech compartment for transporting your laptop and other electronic bits. Nomatic has been an industry leader when it comes to travel gear and that reputation is reflected in the quality build design and functionality of the Carry-On Pro suitcase. Note that traipsing this and off the subway is a bit of pain during rush hour.
Check out our Nomatic Carry-On Pro review to learn more about this epic suitcase.
The Camera: Fujifilm X-T3
For most of us, our smartphones now feature cameras with stunning capabilities. However, a Smartphone won’t do any justice to the mighty Manhattan skyline. If you are an aspiring photographer who wants to take next-level photos beyond iPhone selfies, I recommend going with a mirrorless camera like the Fujifilm X-T3.
This camera is not a camera for total amateurs per se. It does deliver pro-quality photographs and video if you are an aspiring content creator. Think of a camera purchase like this as a long term investment that will have you taking epic shots well beyond your time exploring New York.
What To Pack For New York: Personal Gear
You probably own “city clothes:” already so won’t need to worry too much about what to wear in New York. However, do bear in mind that summers can be dangerously hot and winters absolutely bloody freezing. Therefore, make sure you do pack for the season.
In terms of style etiquette, New York is probably the best dressed city in America and if you want to run with the hipsters and fashionista’s, you will need to make the efforts. That said, this is the US so you will still fit in perfectly even if you wear your pants halfway down your legs and match socks with sandals.
New York Checklist
Friendly joshing aside, let’s take a closer look at what to wear in New York.
Good Shoes – Salomon X Ultra 3 Low Aero
Visitors to New York often underestimate how much walking is involved in visit. But the truth is, New York is huge and is best explored on foot.
I admit that most shoes that are also good for hiking are not the most attractive pieces of footwear. But they are some of the most comfortable and deliver good ankle support for a long day of walking about town. Besides, they are still less garish than a lot of other New Yorkers footwear.
Aside from New York City, upstate NY offers some great day hiking opportunities.
Check out the women’s Salomon X Ultra 3 Low Aero.
Good Rain Jacket – Arcteryx Beta AR
Did you know that the surface of the earth is over 70% covered in water? And you know how that water got there? Yep because it tends to here rain here on planet earth quite a lot! New York can be wet and drizzly and a good rain jacket can be proper life saver.
There is no such thing as bad weather, only the wing gear for it. Don’t let a bit (of a lot) of rain ruin your trip and make sure you are ready with some top notch rain gear.
This is our pick of the many rain jackets we have tried. It’s reliable & stylish and looks good worn out in the mountains or in city bars.
One of the best investments you can make is a worldwide travel adapter that will work anywhere! The one featured here is tough, reliable and a solid buy – Don’t leave home without one.
Buy your travel adapter on Amazon now.
A Good Daypack for Hiking – Osprey Daylite Plus
The days exploring New York can be long and it its worth bringing along a day pack. They are great for carrying water, hat’s and gloves and for packing sandwiches for lunch. We love Osprey products and this daypack is our personal pick.
The Osprey Daylite Plus has a mesh-covered panel to keep your back cool and fresh by minimizing contact with the back of the pack itself and allowing air to get between you and the pack.
Check out our full review of the Osprey Daylite plus for more details.
Additionally, you can attach it to other Osprey packs in case you want to add more capacity and carry just one piece of luggage… but the reviews on this feature are mixed.
Travel Insurance From World Nomads
These days, New York is a pretty safe city and the apocalyptic crime epidemic of the 70’s and 80’s is confined to movies. However, bad stuff can and does happen in New York so you need to make sure you are prepared for it.
I admit I traveled for many years without having travel insurance. Because of it, I paid the price a few times in foreign hospitals. Especially in an expensive country like the USA, you NEED to have insurance in order to avoid unimaginably high hospital bills. I have countless stories of friends who have been injured while traveling in the USA – and in one case – the bill was over 50k USD.
We recommend going with World Nomads or SafetyWing. You’ll be happy you did when the time comes to use it.
Money Belt – By Active Roots
Whilst New York is not particularly dangerous these days, crime can still happen and tourists are sometimes targeted.
Therefore it is always a good idea to use a money belt to hide your cash just in case something does go wrong.
Your Passport or Other Government ID
If you are visiting New York from within the US, you won’t probably need a passport. Everybody else though, yes you will need it to enter. Homeland Security agents are harasses and unless your passport and ESTA is in order, they will send you home.
Also bear in mind that you may be ID’s when buying alcohol in bars or even stores.
Let’s face it; for the foreseeable future, COVID 19 fear is just going to be a part of travel. How do we do our best to mitigate the risk while still traveling and experience life’s pleasures? Pack the right PPE gear.
New York is a dream environment for a pathogen like COVID to spread and was the worst hit city in the US by far.
To do your bit to halt the spread, you should bring the following;
Thermal Layer For Winter
If you are visiting New York during the depths of winter, prepare for some serious cold.
A good thermal layer can make all the difference between enjoying your Christmas New York trip, and spending the whole time shivering. I even wear one of these in the UK during winter.
Don’t risk hypothermia, add this to your New York packing list.
The Basic Stuff To Pack For New York
On top of the essential items listed above, here is an additional suggested checklist of what to pack for a New York trip:
- 1-2 pairs of comfortable pants/jeans
- 1-2 pairs of shorts (summer/late spring)
- A few pairs of socks
- (Sexy) underwear x 2/3
- Ladies: a few dresses, pants, outfits, or desired lady apparel for a night on the town. Whatever makes you comfy!
- Dudes: A few collard shirts or something half-way decent for a night on the town. Whatever makes you comfy!
- Smartphone with a good camera for photos if you are not bringing an actual camera
- Portable power bank for charging your phone on the go
- Phone charger
- Amazon Kindle for reading by the pool
- Basic first-aid kit
- Copy of your passport just in case
- Cash (not too much, there are ATM machines everywhere
- Packable Towel
Final Thoughts on What to Pack for New York
There it is, friends! Your complete New York survival guide with everything you need to know for what to pack for New York. Keep your planning focused by referring to our handy top 21-needs packing checklist, the breakdown of weather conditions by season and how to pack for each. You also have our packing recommendations for women and men to help guide you, along with a few tips on what not to pack for New York.
Just keep things smart, simple – and stylish. Be ready to have your senses overwhelmed with everything that is crazy, beautiful New York.
All that’s left now is to get in a New York state of mind!
Also – don’t forget to sort your travel insurance! We’ve put together a roundup of the best travel insurance for backpackers, or if you’re low on time, get a quote from World Nomads now, our favourite travel insurance provider.
Yay for transparency! Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means that if you book your accommodation through the site, The Broke Backpacker will earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Your support helps me keep the site going.
Need More Inspiration?
- Is New York Safe?
- Backpacking New York City
- 20 Best Hostels in New York
- The Ultimate Backpacking Packing List
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