Thursday, September 17, 2015

New York Part 1 : Preparations

This post is long overdue. I should start writing now before I forget.

The calculations were based on $1 = RM 3.8.

Okay. My New York Trip was from 18 to 26th of August 2015, right after our final professional exam (31st July - 6th August). I went there with my two friends, Luqman and Julia. We made our preparations months before the travel date.

Here's what we did beforehand:

1. US Visa
I made mine in March because I was worried that I may not get it back on time. Actually, the visa process only took two days! How to apply?

# Choose your visa type. I applied for B1/B2 Tourist Visa (valid for 10 years).

# Print the applicable US Visa application deposit slip. Bring the slip to any Standard Chartered Bank to pay the Visa Fee, $160 (RM 608).

# Complete the DS-160 form online.

# Schedule your visa appointment online.

# Go to US Embassy (376, Jalan Tun Razak, KL) on your appointment date. Bring all the supported documents. 

You will be briefly interviewed there and asked about the reason you want to go visit US. I set my appointment at 9.30am, got out of the embassy at around 11.30am. There was a lot of people waiting and you have to take a turn. The interview was less than 5 minutes!

My passport was posted back to me a day after the interview. So quick!

This visa allows me to go to US againnnn :D
You can read more about How to Apply for US Visa in this website.

2. Flight ticket
After our visa was approved, we proceed to find flight tickets. Luqman was in charge of this part.

We chose Emirates!
$1100 (RM 4180) per person for 9 days and 8 nights

3. Apartment
When we got our travel dates and flight tickets done, we started looking for accomodation through I was in charge of this part. After we agreed for an ideal apartment, I started contacting the owner.

We picked Steven's apartment in Harlem, Manhattan

$253 (RM 962) per person for 8 nights
$32 (RM 122) per night

4. New York Pass
We bought this 7-day pass to make full use of our time there. This pass allowed us to gain entry to over 80 New York tourist attractions. We can skip long lines too, because there's a special counter for tourists with this pass. The pass was posted to us by mail, including a 200 page pocket guidebook.

$209 (RM 795) per person

We had been to 7 out of these Top 10 Attractions, which costs $280
We skipped Food on Foot Tours, Statue of Liberty and Hop on Hop off Water Taxi
We bought the pass for $209 and we got to see much more attractions!!

Thumbs up for this pass! Like like

5. Itinerary
This is a MUST if you want an organised trip. You don't want to waste your time there so, it's better if you know where do you want to go, and how to get there. I made our itinerary, here's how it looks like:

Here's the link to full itinerary : NY Trip (Final).docx

6. Car ride from JFK to Apartment
Julia took care of this part. She booked a car through Dial 7, which cost us $68 for one way trip, not including toll fare and tip. The toll fare was about $6 if I am not mistaken, and we gave $5 tip. Total would be $79, which was $26 (RM 100) per person. 

We did not use public transportation because we arrived in JFK at 8 pm. We hadnt had time to figure out their transportation system just yet.

Below are two things that you can buy when you arrive in New York:

7. US Simcard
Julia bought AT&T simcard online for $50, including unlimited internet. A guy brought us the simcard at the airport. We quickly called the car ride and Steven to inform them we had arrived.

Luqman and I got a simcard each as well, but we did not buy online beforehand. We went to T-Mobile store and bought a one-week plan with 1GB internet, cost us around $27 (RM 103).

8. Subway 7-Day Unlimited Pass
This cost $31 (RM118). You can buy this in any New York subway station counter. You can use this pass to ride the subway and bus. 

Let's do a quick calculation. RM 608 + 4180 + 962 + 795 + 118 + 100 + 103

The total would be RM 6866 = $1807

This amount did not include food and souvenir shopping yet.

For food, our budget (MY budget lol) was $10 per day. I brought rice packet, instant noodles and food from Malaysia. Since we can cook in Steven's apartment, for breakfast and dinner - we cooked. We bought eggs, hashbrowns and fish fillets from grocery store nearby.

For shopping, my dad and mom gave some money to shop for souvenirs.

Our budget was RM8000 for the 9 days trip. Now that the ringgit value keeps going down (now it's 4.22!), you may want to increase the budget if you want to go to US. Or, you may choose cheaper options like:

1. Find airlines other than Emirates
2. Couchsurfing instead of airbnb
3. Not buying New York Pass
4. Use public transportation instead of car ride
5. Bring lots of instant food from Malaysia
6. Don't buy souvenirs, no shopping time

Photos of our trip will be in my next post!

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