The holidays are fast approaching and I usually consider this the perfect time to start thinking about trips for the new year. First of all, because you get to spend lots of time with your family and friends and travel is a great topic of conversation (also a good way to stop relatives you’ve never seen in your entire life asking embarrassing questions). And secondly because, I don’t know about you, but my holidays reset in January so it’s the perfect time to stop dreaming and start make plans.
One of my dream destinations for 2020 is New York so I was thrilled when Crimson Publishing offered to send me a copy of their new TimeOut New York City Guide. There are quite a lot of things I liked about this guide and a couple I didn’t, and what better way to go through them all than with a good old fashioned list?
1 Itineraries. Yes, you read that right: itineraries. I have to admit, I do tend to go a little overboard with my trip itineraries. If I have lots of time to prep for the trip, I will usually construct an hour-per-hour itinerary on an Excel spreadsheet (again, you read that right), including where to eat and shop. This might sound a bit obsessive, but I found it makes for a very fun activity on the lead up to the trip, ensures you don’t feel like you’re missing out and makes the trip less stressful – who wants to walk around the busy streets of Athens in 30 degrees heat trying to find a place to eat at that doesn’t look unsanitary or a rip-off? Not me.
That’s why I was really excited when I saw this guide had 4 different itineraries: Essential Weekend, Budget Break, Family Day Out and Two Boroughs in one day. You can find them under the first section Discover. Now, I do tend to plan my own itineraries, but it’s good to have a base to start from. The itineraries are quite short, so it’s easy to either expand them or mix and match, if you are planning to stay longer.
2 When to visit/Calendar of events. Especially if your destination is far away (on the other side of the pond for me), you want to make sure you make the most of your trip – if you’ve never been to Japan, you’d plan to go during cherry blossom season, right? This guide has a When to visit section and a separate Events section divided by season. I’d personally like to visit in the lead up to Christmas, but if you like art you should visit in spring (there are quite a few fairs and events surrounding Amory Week) and if you like festivals you should visit during summer. The more you know!
3 New York Today. It’s a section right after the Itineraries dedicated to modern-day New York. This section covers quite a few topics from politics, to the cost of life to city planning. It doesn’t shy away from hot topics such as Trump and political unrest and I believe it offers a very progressive take on the city. I think it would be perfect to read on the plane in order to get in the spirit of the city. It’s also quite refreshing to see these topics being discussed in a travel guide, so bonus points for that.
4 Maps. I do love a good map. There is one map on page 8 which shows how Manhattan is divided into the different boroughs, and it’s colour-coded *sharp intake of breath* so you can easily go to the section you want by looking at the little coloured tabs at the end of pages. Each section then has its own little map with everything you might need: cannot-miss spots (red hearts), underground stops, restaurants and shops. I think it’s great to have a map for each section as it makes navigating the city much easier.
5 In The Know. They’re small paragraphs that tell little anecdotes, urban myths or trivia about the city. I liked these the most because I think they allow you to live the city like a local. To be honest, when I read a guide I really can’t be bothered with long explanations about the history of this or the architecture of that. What I like the most is seeing the hidden places, walking the less trodden path and catching a glimpse of the true heard of a place. I’m sure these little in-the-know tips would make for really unforgivable experiences.
6 An (entire!) LGBT+ section. I think including LGBT+-specific info in tour guides is quite a recent trend and this is the first guide I’ve seen where this takes up a whole section, and not just a paragraph. However, LGBT+ history is such an integral part of the history New York (you could say the modern LGBT+ rights movement originated from the Stonewall Riots), that it would be a shame to skip this section, even if you are not part of the community yourself. This chapter even has a separate a queer calendar with LGBT+ events and an in-depth paragraph about the NYC drag queen scene – how cool is that?
Now on to the less fun part – what I didn’t like.
1 The Understand section. This might well be someone else’s cup of tea, but for me it was unnecessary. As I said, I’m not a big fan of small printed walls of text about the Pilgrims or the architecture of the Flatiron Building. That being said, this is just one section right at the very end of the guide, so easily skippable if, like me, you’re not so keen on that.
2 The single maps are a bit on the small side. I know this is obviously dictated by the physical size of the book, but still I would’ve liked a bit more detail. There is a fold-out map at the end of the book, but I think it would be really impractical when you are on-the-go. Still, having the single maps is quite handy, and I do really appreciate the volume being quite compact and light.
So there you have it! I think this guide is overall a very solid choice and I will definitely recommend it if you want to try something a bit more modern and progressive. You can find it on Amazon and at your usual book retailers. What guide do you usually go for? And what do you like the most in a guide?
This is M signing out for now! ✨