NYU Getaway: Getting a Break From the City
New York City is a place that offers an unimaginable diversity of foods, cultures and experiences. One minute you're taking a stroll through the “Home Alone” parts of Central Park, and the next you're getting authentic soup dumplings in Chinatown. It's easy to get overwhelmed by the glamour of this chic and fast-paced city. But what if you happen to have a long weekend and want to escape the walls of crystal skyscrapers to see more of what this country has to offer? Even if it's just for a few hours, or a few days…
On Oct. 6, the weekend prior to Indigenous People's Day, my best friend Alex and I decided to leave NYC for two days. We wanted it all: urban life and nature, relaxation and activity. Being students, we also needed everything to be cheap yet still fabulous. The choice was made; next stop - Boston.
We packed our backpacks, hopped on a bus and arrived five hours later. After spending two adventurous days exploring Boston, I have some tips for your NYC escape.
1. Plan with friends
First, think of someone you'd like to go with. Ask around, think of friends who are always down for an adventure. If you know someone who lives in your desired destination, you might be able to save on accommodations and tours! Whoever your partner(s) may be, make sure they're reliable and willing to put in the time to plan with you.
2. Urban or Natural?
Discuss with your friends what type of vacation you want. Think of landscape, environment and experience. Is it a complete escape from the city to nature to calm your mind? Or are you looking for a different city that can meet your needs for a shopping spree, cute cafés and drinks? Regardless of whether you want to relax or have a trip full of activity, consider your ideal experience when choosing your destination.
Finding suitable transportation is key! If you're planning on spending a night at your destination, it's worth looking into buses rather than trains. They take longer but are generally less expensive! One way train tickets to Boston were over $200, while the bus equivalent was around $20.
If you are staying somewhere for two days, bring a small bag so that you don't feel overwhelmed when you need to walk around looking for buses, accommodations, etc. When packing, consider factors such as weather and travel time. If it's cold or raining, remember to pack a warm jacket, comfortable shoes, and umbrella as necessary. If you're planning for a long trip, bring food and drinks with you.
Depending on your budget, look online for hotels and Airbnbs. Every city is different; you might be able to find hotels that are cheaper than Airbnbs and vice-versa. Before you pay for lodging, make sure your age doesn't restrict you from being accommodated Some hotels and Airbnbs won't allow you to make a reservation if you're under 21.
Before leaving, make sure to conduct some research on what you want to do and see. This will prevent wasting any of the little time you have. A great place to start is Instagram. You can screenshot posts and locations to include in your trip. In terms of economizing, look out for student discounts at museums, restaurants, etc. and put your NYU ID to good use!
7. Ask for recommendations
Pick your friends' brains and use their knowledge! If you know someone who's from the location or has visited before, make sure to ask them what's worth seeing. Many activities/places on the internet are sponsored, so a first-hand experience from a trusted source is much more reliable.
While having fun and enjoying yourself, make sure you're not putting yourself in danger. Remember that you're on foreign territory. Make sure that you and your friends are looking out for each other. Each state within the US has slightly different laws and culture. Again, ask your more experienced friends, and keep yourself educated.
This may seem like an obvious tip, but take tons of photos. You can easily take great photos on a smartphone. For a more vintage vibe, you can also use a Polaroid or film camera which allows you to create tangible memories.
10. Have FUN!
Don't forget that your main goal is to have fun. If you're feeling overwhelmed by the list of activities you have planned, don't be afraid to ditch some. This trip is for you, and you can make it whatever you want it to be.
When choosing a location, consider the aforementioned list of tips. Boston was great and other top choices include Pennsylvania and Washington D.C. Of course, there are many more options. A little research can lead you to great places! Let us know in the comments if you have any tips or fun stories from your own weekend getaway.
Written by: Sarah Teskova
Photography by: Sarah Teskova