How to survive a New York business trip

How to survive a New York business trip

We’ve all dreamed of making it in New York, of sitting on terrace steps in Brooklyn on a dreamy summer’s afternoon, exploring the rows of perfectly manicured streets in Manhattan, of seeing the awe-inspiring skyline from Top of the Rock.

But with a population 18 million strong, navigating this concrete jungle isn’t always a walk in Central Park – especially when it comes to the competitive business world. With that in mind, here are a few pointers to make your next New York business trip a huge success.

A Map of New York

New York is a BIG place. You have the Bronx to the north, Staten Island resting against the New Jersey border to the west, and Brooklyn and Queens sitting a subway-ride away to the east.

Each district has its own distinct flavour and exploring all is a highlight for leisure travellers. But if you’re here for business, you’ll find everything you need in cosmopolitan Manhattan.

The centre of New York City, Manhattan is home to many well-known landmarks such as Broadway’s Theatre District, Wall Street, Central Park and Times Square, to name a few.

It’s also the financial centre of the world, with a GDP of over US$1.55 trillion (that’s bigger than the entire country of Australia). In Manhattan, you’ll be rubbing shoulders with top-notch lawyers, accountants, marketers, creatives and experts from pretty much any field imaginable, making it the perfect place for business.

Manhattan’s Streets and Avenues

Even narrowing New York down to Manhattan can be pretty overwhelming, especially if you’re used to a CBD ten-streets wide.

There’s a plethora of familiar-sounding neighbourhoods to discover – from living it up like Blair Waldorf on the Upper East Side, exploring Friends’ Central Perk café in Greenwich Village, or checking out Brooklyn Bridge in Lower Manhattan.

While its sheer size can intimidate a humble, first-time business traveller, the organised rows of streets and avenues should make life a little easier.

Streets are numbered from south to north, making a grid with similarly ordered avenues running east to west. This perfectly planned grid – with Central Park fittingly in the middle – is your key to navigating the city. If you’re lost (or running late to a meeting), simply use the street signs as a guide to your destination.

New York’s Airports

New York has three main airports – John F Kennedy, LaGuardia and Newark.

While all have their differences, one key theme ties them together – their less-than-average reputation. But fear not, there are a few ways you can beat NYC’s questionable airports.

John F Kennedy Airport

JFK is one of biggest and busiest airports in the United States. In fact, it’s so large that rather than an address, this southern area of Queens in not-quite-Brooklyn has its own zip code.

With its sheer size in mind, your biggest struggle will be the infamous immigration lines. And trust us, adding more travel time to your already 20+ plus hour flight schedule is not the best way to spend your time in NYC.

Catering to a large variety of international airlines (including Qantas), ‘low peak’ isn’t really a thing at JFK. Still, you can choose a flight that lands in a sweet spot. If you can’t find a lull in schedules, select a flight that lands before an incoming convoy. Getting a ten minute lead on the four flights chasing your tail can save you hours standing in line.

Once through immigration, you’ll be a US$60 Uber ride into the heart of Manhattan. To avoid wearing out the corporate credit card, perhaps take the AirTrain to either Howard Beach or Sutphin Boulevard Station for the low price of US$7.50. From here, you’ll be connected to New York’s wider subway system that will guide you to your hotel. But be warned: you’ll be hauling your luggage up hundreds of stairs that accompany NYC’s underground.

LaGuardia Airport

If New York’s famous for style, then being ‘fashionably late’ derived from LaGuardia airport. Notorious for its delays and cancellations, this airport might not be the best for the time-poor business traveller.

Luckily, it mainly serves short-haul, domestic trips, with very few west coast flights from LA or San Francisco landing here. But if you’re flying from Australia via Dallas or Chicago, best double check your itinerary with your dedicated Travel Manager and plan accordingly. If it’s absolutely unavoidable, best allow an extra day’s travel time to be on the safe side.

On a positive note, getting into the heart of Manhattan is a redeeming quality for LaGuardia. Roughly 18 kilometres from Times Square, an Uber trip will only set you back US$30.

Alternatively, catching the Q70 bus to Jackson Heights-Roosevelt Ave subway station will only cost US$2.75. From here, you’ll be connected to multiple subways and trains and can plan the rest of your trip using the MTA trip planner.

Newark Airport

The best and worst part about Newark Airport? It’s in New Jersey.

No offence to New York’s westernmost neighbour, but Newark Airport is as dull as they come, with the height of their culinary sophistication being a Dunkin Donuts outlet.

Still, Newark is only 25 kilometres from Manhattan, just a quick trip beneath the Hudson River through the Holland Tunnel (traffic pending, of course). But just like JFK and LaGuardia, it is well connected by public transport if you’re looking to save on taxi fees.