I get email from readers now and then, and they often ask for NYC travel advice. I usually respond with my tips in a reply email, but I’m going to answer two recent questions here on the blog because I think many non-New York followers can benefit from hearing my spiel on both subjects. The first is about taking the AirTrain from JFK vs. a cab/car, and the second is about New York’s weather in September and what to pack for a weekend getaway to the city.
These questions come from Miranda Graham.
Q: “My sister and I have a trip planned for the city mid-September. We’re coming in on a Friday. The last time I went to New York we landed on a Thursday and traffic from JFK into Manhattan took us an hour. I can only imagine that it is worse on Fridays?! With that being said, is it quicker to take the AirTrain to the subway and then take the subway straight into Manhattan?”
A: Traffic on a Friday will probably be heavy almost anywhere in the city, and any major road coming into the city. September is known to be a trafficky month too, because schools are back in session and most New Yorkers are back in town from vacations and their seasonal houses.
Also, depending on the time your flight arrives and the route a driver takes, you could be dealing with some people trying to get out of New York for the weekend. I think you can typically count on at least an hour when traveling to and from JFK, if not an hour and a half or longer, unless you’re driving very late at night or overnight.
All the above being said, I recommend the AirTrain rather than a cab or car if you will be traveling during the daytime, and especially if you have light luggage. At just $7.75 per person ($5 for the AirTrain and $2.75 for the subway), it’s the least expensive and efficient mode of transportation to and from JFK. Provided there are no subway delays, you can get from JFK Airport to Penn Station (Midtown) in 50 minutes. Considering how far the airport is from Manhattan, that’s pretty quick.
Visit the website for more details, but you’ll have to ride the AirTrain from JFK and connect to the E subway train in Jamaica, Queens, which is fairly straightforward. The E will take you right into Penn Station.
If you’re traveling late at night or very early in the morning (4 or 5 a.m.), not a seasoned traveler/train-taker or subway-rider, and have heavy luggage, you should consider hiring a car service for a flat rate ride. The worst part about taking the AirTrain and subway is carrying heavy luggage up and down stairs. And you will have to walk a good distance, so please wear comfy shoes.
A: Mid-September in NYC tends to be on the warmer side. But, the evenings can cool down. I lived in the South for 12 years, and the humidity will most likely be higher there than it will be in New York City (although the city can be humid too).
We never know what Mother Nature will be feeling on any given day, and our weather patterns seem to get stranger and more unpredictable each year, but I would plan for daytime temperatures between 75 and 80 degrees, and nighttime temps around 60.
Now, 60 degrees doesn’t sound that cool, but if the humidity isn’t super high, you will feel cool, especially in the evenings. So I recommend packing your short sleeve-shirts, at least one pair of jeans/trousers, and a sweater –– probably a cardigan that you can throw on early in the morning and after the sun goes down. If you have space in your bag, pack one long-sleeve shirt for good measure.
If you’re not a cardigan wearer, a light blazer will work too (you can wear it on the plane so you don’t have to pack it.)
And most importantly, bring a scarf. A scarf that you can toss in your city bag and wear as needed. New Yorkers always have scarves because we never know how chilly the interior of a building might be, or if a shower might pop up. Speaking of rain, bring a folding umbrella too, or be prepared to buy one on the street. And if you forget the scarf, you can buy a pashmina on the street for about $10.
I also want to mention that although it’s not the norm, September can get hot. I remember one year when it was 87 degrees toward the end of the month. We were having July weather on the first days of fall. Just like New York herself, the weather can be moody and temperamental. Keep that in mind, check AccuWeather before you pack, and have a wonderful trip!
Thank you for your questions, Miranda! Have a question about your next New York City trip? Email tracykaler at gmail dot com.