New York Packing List: Essential Things to Pack for Every Season

New York Packing List: Essential Things to Pack for Every Season

New York City is a truly incredible place. The Big Apple offers up thousands of unique attractions and activities waiting to be explored. But without the right preparation or the right New York City packing list if you will… your trip will become more challenging than it should be.

Therefore, we’ve put together a list of what to pack and essential tips to ensure a smooth and enjoyable adventure in New York.

What to Expect from New York City

Many parts of New York are best explored on foot, especially in Manhattan. While there are plenty of taxis around, ready to take you anywhere you want, it’s a public secret that you can only experience the true spirit of the city by strolling through its streets and avenues.

The thing is, some streets are a little nicer than others, and some are best avoided. This packing list for New York is tailored with the broad range of areas in mind. Let’s get into it!

How to Choose the Perfect Luggage for New York

The best luggage for a trip to New York is maneuverable yet spacious.

Suitcase or Backpack — Which one is right for you?

NYC has thousands of kilometres of sidewalks and streets, each with its own character and charm. Most of them are even and easy to traverse, but some can be quite dirty, with garbage piled up on or next to them.

Because of this, dragging around a massive suitcase can be difficult in NYC. And to add salt to the wound, navigating the city's often crowded sidewalks with a large suitcase can be a challenge in itself. In Manhattan, people won’t be quick to get out of your way!

That’s why a travel backpack is the preferred choice for many urban explorers. It’s easy on the back (as long as you don’t overpack, of course) and most importantly, you’ll have no trouble weaving through the busy streets and hopping on and off public transportation.

Packing accessories

To keep things organised in your suitcase, utilise packing cubes. These are like having a mini filing system for your New York City packing list, making it easier to locate items efficiently during your travels. A travel toiletry bag is also a good addition to your organisational arsenal. It will help you better organise your personal care items and keep them accessible and secure.


If you’re more of a light traveller and plan to explore the city with only the essentials, a travel daypack is your trusted companion. It’s comfy, easy to carry around, and offers the flexibility to adapt to different activities and environments.

Fanny pack

A fanny pack is for those who are all about minimalism and convenience. It’s compact, lightweight, and designed to only carry the essentials of the essentials, making it the ultimate accessory for travellers who prioritise simplicity.

What to Wear in NYC

Clothing is an important part of putting together the best New York City packing list.

Yes for good walking shoes, no for sandals or open-toed shoes

You’ll be spending plenty of time pounding the pavement, so packing good, comfy walking shoes is a non-negotiable for comfortable exploration. Say no to sandals or open-toed shoes as they lack what it takes to protect your feet from the various challenges that New York streets offer.


Even the most comfortable shoes are not complete without the right pair of socks. You can opt for socks made from moisture-wicking materials like synthetic blends to keep your feet dry, minimising the risk of discomfort, especially during longer walks or in warmer weather.

Comfortable tops

NYC welcomes diverse fashion tastes, and expressing your personal style can be a delightful highlight of your New York City experience. If you’re more of a casual stroller, put on some casual tops like t-shirts into your luggage. For a more formal style, pack some long-sleeved options as the base layer.

Matching bottoms

Jeans are a good choice for a casual strolling wardrobe in NYC. They’re versatile, allowing you to mix and match with a variety of tops. If you want some breathability, opt for shorts (but not in winter). For a more casual style, chinos are an excellent alternative.

Any jacket, sweater, or cardigan

Adding a layering piece is a great way to enhance your look. A denim jacket or a hoodie will add a touch of casual coolness to any look. A cardigan, on the other hand, provides a cosy and versatile option for layering during your strolls. Don’t forget to add a stylish coat to your New York packing list for winter - it can get extremely cold.

Sunglasses to perfect your look

Sunglasses will stop you squinting, and a stylish pair will complement your outfit. Pack at least  two pairs for versatility.

Fancy outfits

Your packing list for New York is not complete without at least one ‘fancy’ outfit. Some establishments and events such as opera, ballet, and upscale restaurants in the city will have a strict dress code.

Things that Go into Your Purse or Bag

There are a few small items that you should keep handy when trekking around the city.

Water bottle

To reduce the existing waste problems in the city and do your part for Mother Nature, bring a reusable water bottle for rehydration. It’s also more convenient and cost-effective than buying single-use plastic bottles of water.

Hand sanitiser

Keep your hands clean with the right sanitiser. You never know what kind of germs your hands might encounter while exploring the city, especially when you’re visiting public places or using the subway system.

Portable charger

Keep your gadgets charged on the go with a portable charger or power bank. Don’t let a dead battery disrupt your urban adventures.

Foldable tote bag

NYC has banned the use of plastic bags in every store since 2020. While you can technically still buy reusable plastic bags, you might as well contribute to the city's environmental efforts by bringing your own canvas or cloth bags.

Umbrella or foldable raincoat

You can expect some rainy weather in late spring and summer, so pack a compact umbrella ideal for use on busy sidewalks.

Toiletries and medications

You can find all of the essential toiletries and medications in NYC. But, if you have preferred brands or prescribed medications you can only find in your home country, pack them. These could be wet wipes, skin care products, pills, and more.


A few more items to help make your NYC adventure as smooth as possible.

Image by TravelScape on Freepik

Versatile travel wallet

Keep your travel documents, credit cards, and currency organised with a versatile travel wallet. To make it even more secure, get one that has a built-in AirTag holder to help reduce the risk of misplacing it.

Travel outlet adapter

The USA uses type A electricity outlets. If you live outside of the North American region, you will want to pack a durable travel adapter. If your trip will span across multiple countries, choose an adapter that works well with a range of different plugs.

Enjoy your New York City adventure

Now that you have your packing list for New York organised, all that’s left to do is enjoy your trip!