The Ultimate New York City Packing List
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From walking shoes to power banks, here’s what to bring to the Big Apple.
New York City: it’s one place everyone should visit at least once in their lifetime. From the bright lights of Broadway to the tranquil fields of Central Park to the upscale dining of Lower Manhattan, it’s truly a city like no other. And, while it’s pretty much impossible to do and see it all in one trip, you can certainly try — but be prepared to spend the majority of those days on your feet outdoors.
If it’s your first time traveling to the Big Apple, there are a few things about the city you should know before you come. First, winters are cold and summers are hot and humid. Second, you’ll walk more than you think, and the sidewalks can be uneven. And third, the city is big with a lot to see, so you’ll likely only be in your hotel room or Airbnb to sleep. With all of that in mind, it’s a good idea to prepare for your activities ahead of time and pack accordingly.
Lucky for you, the T+L team is full of NYC experts (many of us live here, after all). Use our guide to help you decide what to pack, how to pack, and how to stay as comfortable as possible on your trip to the city.
Packing Checklist for an NYC Trip
Unless you stay in the same neighborhood and visit the same attractions every time, no two visits to NYC are identical — and anyone who lives here will tell you New York in the winter and New York in the summer might as well be two different cities. One thing that’s consistent, though? The amount of time you’ll spend outside. You should always go for comfort and pack plenty of layers when visiting. Keep reading for our specific product recommendations.
Best Long-sleeve Top for Women: Free Fly Bamboo Lightweight Long Sleeve
Best Long-sleeve Top for Men: Outerknown Blanket Shirt
Best Short-sleeve Top for Women: Athleta Speedlight Seamless Tee
Best Short-sleeve Top for Men: Fourlaps Smash Tee
Best Packable Winter Jacket for Women: Athleta Mendocino Coat
Best Packable Winter Jacket for Men: Rab Microlight Alpine Down Jacket
Best Hoodie: Lululemon City Sweat Pullover Hoodie
Best Pants for Women: Everlane The Dream Pant
Best Pants for Men: Lululemon ABC Classic Fit Pant 34” Warpstreme
Best Sneakers for Women: adidas Cloudfoam Pure Running Shoe
Best Sneakers for Men: Hoka One One Clifton 8 Running Shoe
Best Boots for Women: Blondo Danika Waterproof Bootie
Best Boots for Men: Blundstone Classic 550 Chelsea Boot
Best Nice Comfortable Shoes for Women: Maisonette Osay Leather Slide Loafer
Best Nice Comfortable Shoes for Men: Cole Haan Original Grand Wingtip Derby
Best Belt Bag: Dagne Dover Ace Fanny Pack
Best Crossbody: Clare V. Petit Moyen Messenger Bag
Best Small Wallet: Falan Mule Small Wallet
Best Backpack: Everlane The ReNew Transit Backpack
Best Sling Bag: Monos Metro Sling Bag
Best Zippered Tote: MZ Wallace Metro Deluxe Tote
Best Foldable Shopping Bag: Farm Rio Toucan Bag
Best Portable Power Bank: Anker PowerCore 13000 Portable Battery
Best Reusable Water Bottle: Thermoflask Double Stainless Steel Insulated Water Bottle
Best Umbrella: Weatherman Travel Umbrella
New York is an anything-goes type of town when it comes to style. But, when the matter is comfort, you’ll want to have a few specific pieces on hand. For example, if you plan on spending hours sightseeing, you may want to trade jeans or leather pants for a comfy pair of leggings or slacks. Additionally, layers are key (and you’d be surprised how handy a sweatshirt or light jacket can be when you head from sweltering temperatures in Central Park to a heavily air-conditioned subway car). Our most important advice for clothing? Check the weather in New York before you pack for your trip, and throw a few emergency options in your suitcase just in case.
Free Fly Apparel Bamboo Lightweight Long Sleeve
Best Long-sleeve Top for Women
If your trip to the big city is taking place in autumn, winter, or early spring, you’ll want to layer up. New York is notorious for its cold winters, so a comfy long-sleeve top like this one from Free Fly is essential. It’s lightweight, breathable yet warm, and comfortable without feeling too loose, so it’s sure to regulate your body temperature whether it’s freezing outside or just slightly chilly. Thumb holes and 40+ UPF protection make this an even more versatile option.
Price at time of publish: $58
Outerknown Blanket Shirt
Best Long-sleeve Top for Men
This long-sleeve shirt is so smart and stylish, you’ll want to throw it on regardless of what the weather is doing. However, it’s especially useful on cold days thanks to its insulated construction, layerability, and ultra-soft feel (which the company even calls “the coziest damn shirt ever made”). Other interesting features include sustainable craftsmanship — its buttons are made from nuts — and wrinkle-resistance, which makes packing it a breeze.
Price at time of publish: $148
Athleta Speedlight Seamless Tee
Best Short-sleeve Top for Women
Whether you’re headed to NYC in the summer or just looking for another layer, consider packing this extra-comfy T-shirt from Athleta. This stylish, nylon-spandex blend top is breathable and chafe-free — in other words, it’s made for outdoor exploration on a warm, humid day. It’s also seamless, odor-resistant, and designed with internal hem-grippers that keep the shirt in place.
Price at time of publish: $54
Fourlaps Smash Tee
Best Short-sleeve Top for Men
When it comes to travel, clothing that’s just as comfy and functional as it is stylish is key (and New York is one place you definitely don’t want to look drab). This simple tee from Fourlaps checks all the boxes and then some. The shirt boasts an athletic fit, sustainable construction, and moisture-wicking properties. It’s even available in eight colorways including river blue, crimson, and avocado.
Price at time of publish: $54
Athleta Mendocino Coat
Best Packable Winter Jacket for Women
If there’s even a chance of low temps in New York during your stay, you’ll want to pack a winter coat. Our editors like Athleta’s Mendocino coat for its warmth, style, and packability. Not only is wind-resistant, water-resistant, and stuffed with a cozy down alternative, it’s also flattering and functional thanks to an internal waist drawcord and side zip pockets. The jacket’s no-bulk build additionally makes it easy to fold down into a suitcase.
Price at time of publish: $229
Rab Microlite Alpine Down Jacket
Best Packable Winter Jacker for Men
Similar to our winter jacket pick for women, this men’s coat by Rab is lightweight and bulk-free all while locking in heat and keeping water out. The slim-fit jacket is equipped with 700-fill-power (which is surprisingly warm for its size), an adjustable hood and hem, and packable fabrics that are 100 percent recycled. If temperatures rise and you’d rather carry the jacket, just roll it up and stick it in the included drawstring stuff sack.
Price at time of publish: $280
Lululemon City Sweat Pullover Hoodie
A hoodie is such an easy thing to pull on and off for in-between weather, and we recommend this one from Lululemon. The soft and stretchy piece is made for movement, so you can bet it’ll last even on 20,000-step sightseeing days. We also love its sweat-wicking, quick-drying, and shape-retention capabilities, as well as its hidden pockets and variety of available colors.
Price at time of publish: $128
Everlane The Dream Pant
Best Pants for Women
A trip to the Big Apple calls for a very specific type of pant. You want something you can move in, but joggers and athletic leggings don’t always cut it in such a cosmopolitan city. Instead, opt for these Everlane slacks. They’re casual without being too casual, and they’ll go with pretty much every outfit in your suitcase. Plus, they have a subtle, elastic waistband to keep you comfy all day long. Snag these in six colors and nine sizes.
Price at time of publish: $88
Lululemon ABC Classic-Fit Pant Warpstreme
Best Pants for Men
These Lululemon pants are ideal for all weather and style preferences. They’re stylish, breathable, wrinkle-resistant, quick-drying, and easy to move in. They also happen to be completely customizable; you can choose from 16 sizes, five lengths, and 15 neutral colors. And because they’re so versatile, you can wear them with a T-shirt for sightseeing, a sweater for dinner, or even a button-down shirt to catch a Broadway show.
Price at time of publish: $128
Related:The Most Comfortable Clothing for Travel
Despite what movies and TV shows may have shown you, New York City is no place for strappy heels. If you’re planning a trip to the city, be prepared to do a lot of walking. In order to keep blisters, spasms, and general foot pain at bay, prioritize comfort over everything — that means extra-cushioned sneakers, sandals with arch support, and flats that don’t pinch or rub your skin. It’s also wise to break in any shoes you plan on packing beforehand to lessen your chances of blistering and to pinpoint any problem areas. That said, keep your kicks with hard, flat footbeds and flimsy straps at home, and consider these options instead.
Adidas Women's Cloudfoam Pure Running Shoe
Best Sneakers for Women
Running shoes are pretty much the comfiest shoes you can buy. We like the Cloadfoams from Adidas for women — they’re slim, supportive, and efficiently cushioned. These kicks are even pretty stretchy and flexible, so you won't have to worry about them squeezing or pinching your foot. They’re also designed with a 3-inch heel and pull tabs on both the heel and tongue for easy on-off.
Price at time of publish: $75
Hoka One One Men's Clifton 8
Best Sneakers for Men
These men’s running shoes by Hoka One One have a thick, rugged heel, which makes them perfect for traversing everything from uneven Brooklyn sidewalks to grassy Central Park fields. They’re also super breathable thanks to open engineered mesh uppers and abrasion-free textile lining. A removable insole offers comfort and support, while rubber inserts provide optimal traction.
Price at time of publish: $140
Blondo Danika Waterproof Bootie
Best Boots for Women
Traveling to the city during the rainy season? Keep these leather ankle boots by Blondo on hand. They’re super stylish due to their chunky heel and almond-shaped toe, but their cushioned insoles and waterproof construction also leave feet warm and dry all day long. To top it all off, the booties have pull tabs on the ankle to ensure getting into and out of them is always a snap. Choose from four styles including black leather and cognac nubuck.
Price at time of publish: $159
Blundstone Men’s Classic 550 Chelsea Boots
Best Boots for Men
These Blundstone boots might just be the most versatile men’s shoes on the market. They’ll stay stylish and comfy from fall to spring with their stretch paneling on each side, tongue and ankle pull tabs, rugged sole, and nubuck leather upper. And because they’re completely timeless, you can dub them your official New York City shoe for years' worth of trips to the city.
Price at time of publish: $220
Osay Leather Slide Loafer
Best Nice Comfortable Shoes for Women
If you’re headed to the city for a business trip (or even if you simply plan on going to a Broadway show or fancy dinner), you’ll want a formal pair of shoes that are secretly comfy, too. These smart, lightweight flats offer plenty of cushioning and, as long as you buy them in your size, they won't rub or feel too tight. Our editors also love that the backs fold down, so you can choose to wear them as a loafer or a mule.
Price at time of publish: $145
Cole Haan Original Grand Wingtip Derby
Best Nice Comfortable Shoes for Men
They’re walkable, they’re supportive, and best of all, they’re more polished-looking than a pair of athletic sneakers. These Cole Haan derbies’ classic wingtip design and leather upper will have you looking like a dapper businessman, but the thick outsole and special comfort technology will allow you to walk for miles through the streets of Manhattan. The shoes’ upward-bent storm welts even help keep moisture out. They come in 22 colors including black, ironstone, and English blue.
Price at time of publish: $170
Related:The 10 Most Comfortable Walking Shoes for Women of 2023, Tested and Reviewed
No matter how you slice it, you’ll need some sort of bag to carry your essentials around the city. Our editors love hands-free options in a place like New York — because whether you’re shopping through Chinatown, grabbing a snack from a food cart, or steadying yourself using a grab rail on the subway, exploring NYC is easier when your hands aren’t full. Go for something like a fanny pack, belt bag, or sling bag for truly worry-free travel, or choose a crossbody bag or over-the-shoulder tote to elevate your style. As far as smaller accessories like wallets and card holders go, the more compact and lightweight, the better.
Dagne Dover Ace Fanny Pack
Best Belt Bag
There’s nothing wrong with a quality fanny pack, especially when you’ve got a day of sightseeing ahead of you. Go hands-free with this sleek option from Dagne Dover — it’s spacious yet lightweight and packed with pockets. Not to mention, its adjustable strap allows you to wear it either around your waist or on your chest, crossbody style. It’s also 100 percent vegan and available in nine colors, so you can choose the perfect hue for all your big city ‘fits.
Price at time of publish: $95
Clare V. Moyen Messenger
If you ask us, crossbodies make the best all-around bags for city exploration. Not only are they lightweight and easy to carry, but they’re also the perfect stylish day-to-night bag you can bring along to all your stops. We love this one from Clare V. because it’s nearly completely flat — so storing it in luggage is a cinch — but it’s also large enough to hold plenty of essentials like your phone, room key, wallet, and sunglasses. The attractive handwoven exterior is just an added bonus.
Price at time of publish: $495
Falan Mule Small Wallet
Best Small Wallet
Trifold and zip-around wallets can be useful in your daily life, but when you’re in New York, compact wallets are key. This leather one by Falan Mule packs a powerful punch — though it’s just 4 by 5 inches, it has two cash compartments, four clear windows, one zipper pocket, and a whopping 14 card slots. It’s also made with RFID-blocking technology for an extra layer of protection. It comes in nearly 40 colors including bronze, coffee, and emerald green.
Price at time of publish: $22
Everlane ReNew Transit Backpack
You can use this versatile backpack for every part of your trip. Bring it on the plane as a personal item, use it as your daily bag while walking around the city, and then load it up with fresh produce from one of the city’s many summer farmer’s markets. Its sophisticated look paired with 7 pockets, a magnetic top closure, comfy shoulder straps, and a subtle trolley sleeve truly make it the do-everything bag you’ll be excited to show off.
Price at time of publish: $95
Monos Metro Sling Bag
Best Sling Bag
The most experienced travelers swear by sling bags, and our editors’ favorite is this one from Monos. It looks a little nicer than a typical fanny pack or belt bag, but it feels slightly more secure than a crossbody bag. It’s also considerably roomy despite its compact appearance, and its adjustable strap provides a personalized fit. Grab the bag in vegan leather or nylon — either way, it comes equipped with multiple pockets, a keychain carabiner, and a finish that’s both scratch- and water-resistant.
Price at time of publish: $75 for nylon
MZ Wallace Medium Metro Deluxe Tote
Best Zippered Tote
An oversized tote bag can also come in handy on a trip to NYC. Whether you plan to use it as your carry-on or your purse throughout your stay, you’ll love the Metro Deluxe by MZ Wallace. It has comfy handles, a detachable shoulder strap, both interior and exterior pockets, a trolley sleeve, and even a removable pouch. The quilted nylon fabric on the bag’s exterior is soft to the touch and quite stylish, while leather and metal accents work to further elevate the look.
Price at time of publish: $275
Farm Rio Toucan Bag
Best Foldable Shopping Bag
A foldable bag that can easily be stowed within itself is another great option for a busy city like New York. This 16.5-inch pick from Farm Rio is our pick — it weighs next to nothing yet it’s large enough and strong enough to hold plenty of items. Plus, with both long top handles and a crossbody strap, you can customize your carry based on what’s comfortable for you. When you’re done using it for the day, just fold it up into the attached tiny toucan keychain (and yes, it really does fit in there).
Price at time of publish: $10
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Don’t underestimate the power of a few compact pieces of gear, even on a trip to a busy metropolis like New York City. While it’s best to keep accessories to a minimum to lighten your bag of choice, adding some easy-to-carry gear to the equation might actually help your travels run smoother. For instance, a portable power bank is infinitely useful when you're away from your hotel room for hours at a time. Similarly, a reusable water bottle ensures you’ll always have a drink, even when every nearby restaurant has a 40-minute wait. Make sure you have these streamlined gadgets on hand before heading into the city.
Anker PowerCore 13000 Portable Battery
Best Portable Power Bank
When much of your day is spent taking photos and videos (and posting to social media), and using various map apps to find your way around, it’s a good idea to keep a portable charger handy. The Anker PowerCore 13000 is our longtime favorite due to its versatility (it’s compatible with both Apple and Samsung devices), its sheer power (it can charge some devices up to five times), and its compact size. It also boasts two high-speed USB ports and comes with a micro USB cable.
Price at time of publish: $40
Thermoflask Double Stainless Steel Insulated Water Bottle with Two Lids
Best Reusable Water Bottle
If you’re looking to save a few bucks on your travels, especially during a sweltering New York summer, invest in a good reusable water bottle instead of buying a plastic one every time you’re thirsty. This bottle from Thermoflask keeps drinks chilled for up to 24 hours and hot for up to 12 hours, and it won’t sweat and soak everything else in your bag. Unlike other water bottles, it has two lids: a “chug” lid that prevents the bottle from leaking, and a straw lid for easy sipping. Snag it in six colors and four sizes ranging from 18 to 40 ounces.
Price at time of publish: $35 for 40-ounce
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Weatherman Travel Umbrella
It should come as no surprise that an umbrella is absolutely essential for travel so, to stay as dry as possible plus save space in your luggage, we recommend the Weatherman Travel Umbrella. Not only is it quick-drying, water-repellant, and less than 12 inches long when closed, it’s also built with industrial-strength fiberglass, making it more likely to hold up to wind and rain than other umbrellas. It additionally weighs less than a pound, so it’s perfect for throwing in a purse or backpack.
Price at time of publish: $69
Frequently Asked Questions
When is the best time to visit NYC?
It depends on what you’re looking to do in the city. Many travelers flock to Manhattan during the Christmas season to see the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree, the Radio City Rockettes, and other festive happenings, but it’s also the most expensive time of year. January through March is typically the cheapest time to visit New York, but keep in mind it’s also the coldest. Some people prefer summer in the city to take advantage of rooftop bars, outdoor shopping, and Coney Island, but NYC summers tend to be very hot and humid.
What should I bring for a day of sightseeing in NYC?
Any New Yorker will tell you to be prepared for lots of walking while in the city. That said, you’ll want to bring a lightweight bag with secure pockets (as the last thing you need is a heavy bag’s strap digging into your shoulder or the worry of being pickpocketed). It’s also wise to keep your accessories to a minimum — so stick to just your phone, wallet, and medications, and leave excessive makeup, lotions, tech, snacks, and more back in your hotel room.
Why Trust Travel + Leisure
For this article, editor Hillary Maglin used research, tips from colleagues, and her own personal experience as a former New Yorker to compile a comprehensive NYC packing list.
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