What to pack for New York? To make your trip a breeze pack these 23+ essential New York City items for a comfortable and cool stay including what bags to use, what shoes to wear and the items you'll need.
What to Pack for New York: Spring & Summer
This list is organized into four sections and covers the following:
- Personal Care Items
- Items to Stay Comfortable
- Bags & Outfit Tips
- Convenient Items
Let's get started with your NYC Summer and Spring Travel Essentials:
1. Anti-Humidity Hair Spray
Spring and Summer in NYC can get HUMID. The concrete jungle knows how to hold onto heat and when you're catching the subway it can get even stuffier while you're underground. Plus, add in a chance of rain and my hair is ready to frizz up. An anti-humidity hair spray helps maintain that sleek look. The Garnier option is very affordable and quite popular. And Kenra is a brand I always trust.
2. Hand Sanitizer
Hand sanitizer is a must for any trip and is especially useful in New York City. It's inevitable that you'll get some germs on your hands and knowing you'll likely want to enjoy all the treats and meals across the city, make it easy to keep your hands clean with hand sanitizer.
I love this "pen" style version because it fits so easily into a purse or pocket and the spray feature makes it easy to spread over your hands. Plus, you can refill them again and again.
3. Body Wipes & Travel Deodorant
If the weather will be sweltering hot during your visit (pretty common during July and August) I recommend keeping a small deodorant or some sort of cleansing body wipe handy in your travel bag to freshen up while you're out sightseeing all day. These dew.well deodorant wipes come individually wrapped so you can toss a few in your day bag, and they're free from parabens and sulfates.
4. Anti-Chafing Stick
Chafing can be a real pain if you're walking around the city all day in shorts or a skirt. If this is a concern for you, I recommend an anti-chafing balm from MegaBabe or Body Glide.
5. Travel Tissue or Individually-Wrapped Bathroom Wipes
Finding a public restroom in NYC can already be such a hassle and it's the absolute worst when you get inside the stall to find there's no TP. Remedy this by keeping a small stash of tissue handy or these travel-friendly individually-wrapped bathroom wipes ready to go in your bag.
Bathroom Tip: Follow Got2GoNYC for suggestions of public bathrooms all over the city and remember that almost all Starbucks in the city have public restrooms.
6. Sunscreen Stick
When I travel I typically pack my liquid sunscreen as well as a sunscreen stick. The liquid sunscreen stays with my toiletries and I'll use it in the morning when getting ready. And then I keep the sunscreen stick in my bag for touch-ups on areas that are overly exposed like my nose, cheeks, shoulders, etc. I find the sticks to be very convenient and not messy.
I'm also a big fan of this Korean beauty version with SPF 50 - goes on so light and smooth!
7. What to pack for new york: Hydration Powder Sticks
When you're running around the city sightseeing it can be easy to forget to stay as hydrated as you do during your normal routine at home. Prevent dehydration and it's side effects (like headaches) by adding a hydration powder to your diet each day.
I really like the LMNT brand since it has no added sugar, and always enjoy the classic LiquidIV flavors.
8. Reusable Collapsible Water Bottle
I am obsessed with this collapsible, foldable water bottle. It folds up so small so it doesn't take up much space, it's leakproof and it's made of food-grade silicone with no BPAs. Plus, the wide mouth means it's easy to clean the inside.
It may be a few more dollars than some other options, but the quality of the Nomader brand is heads above the rest.
9. Small Fan for Purse
The humidity in NYC is no joke in the Spring and Summer. To avoid sweating off your makeup on the subway, I highly recommend a mini-fan you can store in your purse.
I use mine on the subway with zero shame and I don't think I've ever gotten strange looks because people know it's actually an amazing idea. Keep cool and dry!
10. Moleskin Patches
Moleskin patches are probably one of my most useful purchases in 2023 as I've been trying to break in new boots and sneakers.
These patches help prevent blisters and improve comfort levels on any spots where you shoes might rub on your feet and ankles. On days when you'll be on your feet for hours, I recommend proactively applying them wherever you often get blisters.
11. What to Pack for New York in the summer: Baseball Cap
A trusty baseball cap is an essential NYC travel item. A baseball cap offers additional sun protection, covers your hair from the elements or when you just don't feel like washing it yet, and gives *local* vibes. Go with a NY Yankees or Mets hat, one of your favorite brands or something simple.
12. Comfortable Socks
Again, with all the walking, you want your feet to be comfortable. For the trip I recommend investing in some good quality socks like Bombas which are extra cushioned and hold up very well. Be warned, once you get Bombas you'll never want to go back to anything less.
I also recommend Vans which makes some great quality socks with additional cushion on the bottom.
What Kind of Bag to Carry in NYC
Now to recommend some bags! I recommend 1-2 purses or bags for your trip. Consider what will be most useful for your trip plans, your style and comfort preference when determining which ones to use.
All of the bags I'm recommending do have some safety features against pickpocketing. A few quick tips:
- Cross-body bags are naturally safer to use as they keep your bag close to your person compared to a shoulder bag
- Choose backpacks that have a lock for the zipper or hidden zippers
- Keep your cross-body purse or bag to the front of your body in crowded areas and avoid letting it hang from the back of your body
- Avoid removing your bag when dining outside and setting it on a chair or table where someone could easily grab it and run
I do not believe pickpocketing is a major issue in NYC and you shouldn't be scared about it, but it is a crime of opportunity so I wanted to note some proactive tips to keep your items safe.
13. Backpack with Hidden zipper
This is a great backpack for New York City or while visiting any major European city where pickpocketing is a concern. The zipper to access this backpack is not on the top like usual, instead it's on the backside where it will be against your back/body when you're wearing it.
This brand offers a regular and large size. Some of the bags come with a little "pom pom" accessory which feels a bit young for me, so I've just removed them. Otherwise it's a simple design that will go with most of your wardrobe.
14. Belt Bag
You can't walk down the street without seeing another woman wearing this bag while running errands. The belt bag, especially the Lululemon version, is everywhere - and for good reason! It's comfortable with the wide strap and fits quite a bit for any daytime exploring.
If you'd like a more upscale version, I adore my Lo & Sons belt bags that come in leather, in multiple shades that can be worn around the waist, across your chest, as a longer cross-body or a shoulder bag. Since they are a high-quality leather, the price is higher than your basic belt bag, but they are so versatile and will last ages.
15. Cell-Phone Purse
If you're a minimalist, you might prefer a simple cell-phone cross-body purse. I love Bandolier as they carry so many options and you can mix and match straps and cases, accessories, etc. to really make it your own.
You can also find some on Saks Off 5th as well as lower-priced options on Amazon.
What to Pack for New York: The Essential Shoes for Spring and Summer
16. Casual Sneakers for Day
Your go-to white leather sneakers will fit right in here in NYC. Just make sure to pick your most comfortable pair. Sam Edelman, Nike Air Force 1's and Everlane Court sneakers are good picks, but the list really goes on!
In addition to your plain white sneakers, these options are also in style:
- Nike "Panda" Dunks
- High-top or Platform Converse
- Adidas Samba
- New Balance - the 530's give the classic "Dad" style, the 550's are also popular, and I'm personally into the 237's because they've got a funky vibe with the back detail
For Spring, I especially recommend a pair with a thicker sole or a platform because it will help your feet from getting wet if you have to walk through any puddles.
17. Platform Sandals
For evenings or days you don't want to wear the sneakers, I recommend a pair of sandals that are not a flip-flop style and, again, have a thicker sole or slight platform.
I recommend this because as you're walking through city streets there might be puddles, trash or critters you will have to contend with and having a little extra height on your sandal may help keep your feet away from the elements.
My obsession right now is with the Dr. Marten Blaire Platform sandals. They are chunky and hardcore but so comfortable and have a wonderful contrast with more girly outfits.
If that's not for you, Madewell offers some really nice leather sandals like The Charley Double-Strap Slide pictured above.
And, by all means, if you have dinner or drinks plans somewhere upscale and you know you'll be taking an Uber or taxi directly there or just a short walk, pack your go-to heels or sandals to wear. But, I do recommend a chunkier sandal for exploring.
18. Trench Coat or Light Jacket
Summer is HOT in NYC, but if you're dining inside with the air-con or visiting during the rainy Spring season, I recommend adding your favorite trench coat or light jacket to your packing list.
For night, an oversized or cropped denim jacket (in classic blue jean, white or even black shades) or an oversized leather shirt or blazer will easily go with your outfits.
19. Shorts to wear under dresses
Depending on the wardrobe and outfits you're planning for your trip to New York City, you may want to pack a pair of shorts to wear under dresses and skirts. The shorts I'm talking about are like shapewear or a slip, but without being super tight and "slimming." Instead they offer a little extra comfort against chafing and protection in case of windy days.
It honestly is very breezy in NYC and if you're waiting for the train, the gust of wind just might blow up your skirt. It's happened to me and thankfully my hands were free to grab my skirt before flashing anyone.
So now, I almost always wear a pair of thin, lightweight shorts under my skirts and dresses.
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What to Pack for New York: The convenient Items
20. Portable Charger Power Bank
A MUST! You don't want to deal with having to go back to the hotel to charge up and you definitely don't want to have a dead cell phone when you're trying to navigate the subway or call an Uber. So, pack up at least one portable power bank.
I really trust the Anker brand and have found my chargers to be extremely reliable and hold up well over the years. Plus you can find some cute colors that are easy to spot in your bag.
21. Purse-Sized Umbrella
Spring and Summer in NYC means there's always a chance for rain or a quick storm. Be ready with a mini umbrella in your bag for days that might rain. I recommend purchasing beforehand so you have one handy and don't have to waste time traveling to who knows how many stores to find one when a storm comes in.
I really like this mini portable one as it protects from the rain. Like most umbrellas it won't hold up to really strong winds, but will help keep you dry and warm under a steady rainfall.
22. Gum/Mints or Listerine Mouthwash Tabs
If you're visiting NYC, I hope that means you're enjoying much of the amazing food here! And with that comes a need to freshen up while you're out and without a brush/toothpaste.
Ryan and I have loved the Listerine tabs for years now - they're so clutch - especially on long flights. If they aren't convenient for you to find, go with a trusty pack of gum or mints.
23. Small Organizers for Your Bag
Depending on the size of your bag, or if you want to store these items in your carry-on on a flight, you may want to pick up a small organization bag or two. I recommend sheer or clear bags so you can easily see the items you're looking for.
I find these handy for swapping items into different bags or repurposing for travel makeup & beauty supplies, keeping a small bag at the office, etc. So there would be many uses beyond just one trip.
This post was all about the 23 Travel Essentials to pack for New York City in the Spring and Summer.
I hope you found some great tips to make your trip to NYC even more enjoyable!
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