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29 January 2014

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so, it's not news that this year i'll be thirty, but maybe what is news is that for my birthday this year, boyfriend and i are planning a wee jaunt to the big smoke... new york city, baby! it's all still very much in the planningplanningplanning stages so far - dreaming up holidays is expensive and exhausting, that's for sure, but my gosh, aint it fun to plan! (just me? planosaurus rex)

while we wait for the travel specials and hold our breath for cheap flights across the pond, we spend our nights trawling classified pages like craigslist and localmart in the us for short stay or sublet accommodation - anything that could save us a few pennies on the other end; we're very aware of the heightened cost of staying in the city, and are happy to cut corners on things like that. i'd rather end up staying on the other end of the brooklyn bridge than pay double to stay in the city. travelling in and out (or walking across that giant bastard) would still save us more than what we'd end up spending to stay somewhere more central, and - to be honest, i think there's something 'authentic' about staying out in the suburbs!

the other thing we're careful to plan ahead is tipping for service. friends who have gone for holidays have warned that this is something you mustmustmust take in consideration, and it's always a non-negotiable expense. it angers me here at home to have to pay a service charge for something i (or the employer) have already paid for; those in the service industry in the uk are paid a reasonable rate per hour, and the cost of the labour that goes into cooking and serving my food is inbuilt in the price of the meal. so why am i paying an additional 12.5%..? in some places, and where the service is impeccable or someone has gone out of their way, then sure; i'm happy to leave a cash tip. that's my choice, and it should not be in the fine print of my dining experience. those places that love to tack it onto my bill and then only give a portion to their staff; no. just no. you get nothing from me.

obviously this isn't the case in the states, and most of the people in the service industry barely scrape by, and live from their tips. i am to understand that food - generally, is a lot cheaper too, so adding a tip - anything from 10 to 50% to the bill is expected, but... everywhere? starbucks, where i order with one person and collect from another? do i tip both? the team at subway, where three or more people contribute to my sandwich; who gets the tip there? what if i'm at the same bar, being served by the same bartender all night - do i tip every time? so. many. questions.

lots of things to wonder about before the big trip, but if you have any tips (ha) yourself, please do leave them below; i'd love to hear your stories!
*post written in collaboration with brand*

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  1. You will have a great time doll, I love NY, though I haven't been in so many years!! Tipping can be tough, most places can tell you, but, I tip big because I get worried it's not enough, haha. But, I hope you get everything worked out & have a lovely time xx

  2. I am so jealous, I went to New York last Summer and I fell in love! We stayed in The Jane Hotel, and it is a cheap hotel in the West Village if you want to look into it :) The area was so great, relaxed, fairly quiet and only a 5 minute walk from Bleeker Street which had some amazing boutiques (including 3 Marc Jacobs stores)!

    As for tipping... I never tipped in the likes of Starbucks!

    Lauren | laurenthedaydreamer.blogspot.co.uk

  3. Living in the US we don't tend to tip places like Subway or coffee shops, def it's a must at restaurants, but fast food places and take outs, we never do and as far as i'm aware (or at least going from the American husband) it's not expected. I mean they won't turn it down, but you don't have to.

    If you're looking for cheap places don't rule out motels like Red Roof, Days Inn, or the Motel 8 chains - they won't be as super glam as many big hotel chains but often you get free breakfast and/or coffee and free wifi. We always use Red Roof when we go to visiting cities and it's often one of the cheapest ways. Or find out local mom and pop motels but they'll tend to be a little further out of town.

  4. New York! How exciting. I bet you'll have a wonderful time. I went a few years ago and my sister and I were trying to do things cheaply too. For us it was all about the walking around, the free things and the Starbuck's wifi (we didn't tip in Starbucks by the way).
    We stayed in a hostel called the Urban Oasis, which is basically an apartment with shared facilities like kitchen, living area and bathroom but with individual bedrooms. Our room looked out over the Empire State Building, it was great as we could save money by buying breakfast stuff. I know the idea of a hostel sounds odd, but maybe check it out as it really worked for us and was a lot better than it sounds, more like an apartment than a hostel as there was only 4 rooms total. We actually met a couple who were on their honeymoon and staying there.
    Anyways, happy travel planning.
    Laura xx

  5. Oh Erica! I'm also planning my big 30 trip! New York sounds amazing...empathizing with you finding apartments, I'm doing exactly the same! Good luck with it! xx

  6. Don't worry about tipping at chains or fast food restaurants like Subway and Starbucks

  7. Don't worry about tipping at chains or fast food restaurants like Subway and Starbucks.

  8. You're going to have the best time! The wax museum was my favorite part of visiting NYC.


  9. Oh your trip sounds like so much fun! Tipping is definitely a good idea! Usually at restaurants 15-20% is expected, and at coffee shops and bars a buck a drink is pretty standard practice. It's a goofy system we've got here, for sure. The worst is that some people even make LESS than minimum wage with the expectation that their tips should bring them to a certain rate. No good!

    Becca | Ladyface Blog

  10. New York is amazing! I agree - staying in one of the outer boroughs will save you money. I've stayed in Queens before and rode the train in - it really doesn't take long to learn the subway, and it's honestly the best way to get the New York experience. Staying in Manhattan is glamorous, but so, so pricey. You'll love Brooklyn. It's our kind of people/things. :)

  11. I'm jealous, and I hope I still look 25 when I hit 30 (like you do, you lucky sod) x


  12. Yay New York! Tipping is definitely a bit of a culture shock - restaurants I can handle but remembering to tip taxis, busboys etc is the hard part! Places like Starbucks & Subway usually just have a dish/pot of some kind for tips if you want to give them but it's not as regulated - they won't ask you for a tip like they will at restaurants if you forget.

    Also, a friend and I used Air BnB when we travelled the US a couple of years ago and ended up with some great apartments and stuff, it makes it much more fun to have somewhere that's "yours" for the stay rather than just a hotel room. I'm jealous of your planning - it's my favourite part!


  13. We couldn't make to NYC last year for my 30th but we have finally just booked up to go for New Year!!!! OMG I am so excited! We are staying in Times Square (hubby works away a lot so using hotel reward points, otherwise we'd be struggling). I am just about to start the planning, trying to work out what we can do depending on weather etc. So will be checking back for any further plans!

    New York, concrete jungle where dreams are made, oh There's nothing you can't do - sorry I use can't get the lyrics out my head every time I think about our trip!
    Bee Happy and Healthy

  14. dude me and al stayed here http://www.super8.com/ worked out to be 50 pound each or so a night- its cheap a little lengthy train journey to and from manhatten (1 train though) the area is a little questionable (queens and the rough part) but i would do it again, saved so much money and the room was just fine.xx


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