JetBlue plane at JFK airport in New York City.
Travel

How To Survive A Trip To JFK Airport In New York City

Let The Journey To JFK Airport Begin

I have a confession, and I’m not ashamed to admit it. Now here it goes. Some of you might call me crazy, but I truly enjoy flying into JFK Airport in New York City.

Conveyor belt at JFK airport in New York, New York.
Conveyor belt at JFK airport in New York, New York.

Every time I land at JFK Airport, excitement flows through my veins. My heart rate increases slightly. A surge of energy runs throughout my whole body. And images of all the fun adventures I’m about to experience, takes over my brain.

I’ll Never Forget The First Time I Flew Into JFK Airport In New York City

I didn’t always feel this way about JFK  Airport. As a matter of fact, the first time I went there, I completely hated it.

Coming from Rochester, New York, a mid sized city, JFK Airport was way too much for me to handle.

I was completely unprepared to deal with the size, noise, and massive crowds of people.

Conveyor belts to walk on at JFK Airport in New York City.
Conveyor belts to walk on at JFK Airport in New York City.

Feeling like Dorothy in The Wizard Of Oz, I knew I wasn’t in Kansas anymore. Only in this case, it wasn’t Rochester, New York.

As I stepped of the JetBlue plane, I had no idea what to expect. All I knew was that I was no longer home, and it was scary.

I proceeded, through the large crowds of people, and went directly to the location, where I was supposed to meet my sweetheart.

She was running late, and I was hoping she’d arrive sooner, rather than later.

One hour, then turned into two hours. Was she actually going to show up, or did she forget about me?

You would never believe how happy, and relieved I was, when she finally showed up. I had a smile that was so big, it was almost as large as JFK Airport itself.

Before Going To JFK Airport In New York City, I’ve Never Been Out Of Rochester, New York

The first time I was ever told to visit New York City, was when I was attending Monroe Community College.

It was on an evening, after attending all my classes, and was on my way home riding the bus.

A young woman sitting next to me, struck up a conversation, and somehow we got talking about New York City.

At the time I didn’t think much of it, because I didn’t know much about New York City.

The only things I knew, were from pictures I saw in books. And that King Kong knocked the top of, from the Empire State Building.

At least that’s what I thought, from watching too many movies while growing up.

The day I finally did get to stand at the top of the Empire State Building, I was hysteric. Never in my life, did I think that such an amazing thing would ever happen.

There I was, looking down at traffic and buses, that looked like they shrunk down smaller than matchbox cars.

Being able to see parts of the city for 65 miles, from each way was incredible.

I Eventually Came To Love JFK Airport In New York City

After my first time going to JFK Airport in New York City, I never imagined I’d ever return again.

I always joke with everyone, that JFK Airport is almost as big as Rochester, New York.

Escalater leading to Jetblue terminal at JFK airport in New York City.
Escalater leading to Jetblue terminal at JFK airport in New York City.

JFK Airport is so massive, that it actually has an AirTrain that takes you to all the terminals, car rental shuttles, and Jamaica Station.

It took me multiple trips to JFK Airport, in order to learn my way around, but once I did, my trips there became much more enjoyable.

My Dad Use To Fly To JfK Airport In New York City With Me All The Time

Each year, I would fly to JFK Airport in New York City, about 3-4 times on average.

All My Trips To JFK Airport In New York City Was An Indiana Jones Style Adventure

Each time I went, it was an adventure, similar to Indiana Jones, except I wasn’t being chased by bad guys, and I didn’t wear a safari hat.

There was always someone to talk to while on the flights, such as the older lady, who needed help unjamming her dog carrier from under the seat in front of her.

Even the last trip, I took less than a month ago, had me talking to a young man who worked at the hospital, doing cutting edge research.

Every trip I took, was an amazing experience. I’ve met phenomenally interesting people, and because of it, became a great storyteller, as you’ve probably already noticed.

As much as I enjoyed these incredible trips, it always felt like there was something missing.

I FInally Got My Dad To Fly To JFK Airport In New York City With Me

Growing up, my dad wasn’t around much, and when he was, we didn’t do much together.

Unfortunately, my dad had a drinking problem, and instead was always at the bar or hanging out with his drinking buddies.

Now I was finally old enough to travel, and invited him to go many times.

Each time I put the invitation out there, he declined, until I finally gave him no choice.

One day I called him up, and told him that there was a plane ticket waiting for him, and he had to take some time off from work.

After a bit of grumbling, and resistance, he finally realized he had no choice, and gave in.

From that point on, he always looked forward to our trips together.

He loved New York City so much, I had a hard time getting him to leave.

Every Time We Went To JFK Airport In New York City My Dad Made Us Go To Times Square

Unsuspectingly, my dad became a certified Times Square fanatic.

Every single time we fly into JFK Airport in New York City, that was the first place he mentioned.

Not only were the trips 1 thousand times more enjoyable, I got to do something I wasn’t able to do as a kid.

I got to spend time with my dad, and do something together that would create memories that would never be forgotten.

Plus, it was fun teaching him how to find his way around the airport, which to my surprise, he learned extremely fast.

The First Step To Getting Around At JFK Airport In New York City, And I Taught My Dad

On one particular trip, to JFK airport in New York City, I took some time out to teach my dad, how to get around fast and easy.

JFK airport is not only large, it’s absolutely massive.

Anybody going there for the first time, will be completely overwhelmed.

Unlike the Rochester, New York International Airport, It takes a while to walk from one side of the airport, to the next.

There’s hundreds of places to shop, eat, and buy supplies while there. And there’s 10 times as many plane terminals to navigate to.

One of the first things I do, after getting of the plane, is to go get something to eat from the various restaurants available, and sit down for a bit.

The reason why I do this is because, once you leave JFK airport, and go on your journey to your desired destination, you could easily be traveling non stop for over a few hours.

Jamaica Station in New York City.
Jamaica Station in New York City.

As I experienced in the past, it’s not that easy to grab something to eat, when you’re running to catch your train, that most likely will be leaving within the next minute or two.

Yes, the trains do run very frequently, but who wants to wait 20 minutes, when they know that they have a 2-1/2 hour trip, just like I did when I went to Suffern, New York.

If My Dad Can Learn How To Get Around At JFK Airport, So Can You

As I explained everything go my dad, he paid very close attention to what I said, and caught on phenomenally fast.

I’m not sure if this was due to me being a great teacher, or he just loves New York City that much.

I’d like to think it’s because of the first reason, but most likely, it’s the second. My dad loves New York City so much, that every time we go there, he turns into a big kid that acts like he’s about to go to the amusement park.

But, if my dad can learn his way around JFK airport, so can you. Just like me, my dad had never been out of Rochester, New York, and had no idea what it was like to fly or take a trip.

So now, I’m going to do the same thing for you, as I did for him.

And I can assure you, that by time I’m done, you’ll be a pro at it too.

Are you ready? Then let’s get started.

Preparation Is The Key To A Fantastic Trip To JFK Airport In New York City

Before you even leave your house, your trip has already begun. Preparation is the key, in order to make your Trip Stress Free And Fun.

Unlike the very first time I went to JFK airport, I now take a day or two to get ready to pack.

No matter how careful you are, you’re always going to forget to pack something important. It might be a toothbrush. Or it can be under clothes, that I almost forgot to pack, before heading out to travel to Suffern, New York.

I had to pack enough to last a week, and was bringing a Christmas Gift that was a little late.

Had I waited for the morning I was leaving to start packing, I would have discovered that my backpack was too small. Fortunately, I was getting ready the day before, and wasn’t in a rush, when I had to pack all over again, while using my moms carry on luggage.

Getting To The Airport Early Is Not Only A Great Idea, It’s Actually Necessary

Anyone who’s actually flown with me couldn’t understand this concept, including my dad.

I’ll never forget the time my mom and dad had to fly to Florida to see my grandmother. Initially my mom asked me to go, but I had to work and was unable to go.

I did go with her on later trips, but on this particular one, my dad went because it would require lots of driving at night, and my mom can’t see in the dark.

For over a week, I carefully planned every single thing out to perfection.

Still, they somehow managed to mess the travel back home up badly,  and ended up sleeping at the airport in Florida overnight.

The next day, when they arrived home, they both looked like they haven’t slept for days.

Don’t Be Afraid To Get To The Airport 3 Hours Early

When I’m traveling, I have no problem with getting to the airport 2 to 3 hours early. This always guarantees that if something goes wrong along the way, or if the security lines are long, I still won’t miss my flight.

There’s a few times when this simple, but powerful concept was very useful.

The first time was when, my GPS stopped working, after directing me to a deserted commercial road, with nothing but factories.

It’s a good thing my cheap phones internet was working, because I had to type the address of JFK airport into the GPS. I did finally make it to my destination, but that extra 30 minutes would have been a disaster, if I hadn’t given myself extra time.

My second time experiencing a severe case of what can go wrong, was during Christmas time. I had a bad feeling that JFK airport was gong to have long terminal lines, due to the holiday.

You wouldn’t have believed the look on my face, when I saw how long the lines were. They literally were stretched all the way from the checkpoint, to the other side of the airport.

An older lady behind me was complaining that her plane was about to take off, and we still had another hour before we made it through security.

Be ahead of time because you never know what can go wrong.

Security Lines At The Airport Aren’t All That Bad, If You Get Ready Ahead Of Time, And Follow The Freaking Directions

I can’t help but laugh, every time I hear someone complain about how slow the security lines are at the airport.

What’s funny, is that it’s usually these same people, who are the ones who make flying a living hell.

As my buddy Louies always says, be aware of your surroundings, and you better believe that I am.

One gift to being aware, is that you see everything, including all the stupid stuff that people do at the airport.

Big goose at pond in village of Suffern, New York.
Big goose at pond in village of Suffern, New York.

On my last trip, coming home from Suffern, New York, the TSA agent at JFK airport was getting very irritated, and I couldn’t blame her.

No matter, how many times she told them what to do, they just stood there looking like they couldn’t understand her. This was causing the lines to slow down, and honestly, I couldn’t understand it either.

One lady, who was the biggest offender of causing the lines to slow down, was in a frantic rush to get to the checkpoint.

Finally, the poor TSA agent had enough, and screamed out, “I know that the airport sucks out all your brains, but could you please think for a bit”?

I’ve heard horror stories about how bad the TSA agents are, and how irritating it is to fly. To that I say, then stop causing the issues, and just follow the simple directions.

Japanese People Know How To Fly, And We Can All Learn A Lot From Them

I love flying with people from Japan. Before they get to the checkpoint, they empty their pockets, take all belts and jewelry off, and wear slip on shoes.

Japanese people listen, and follow the rules carefully, because just like me, they don’t want to spent 10 hours getting through a security checkpoint.

Us Americans have to make everything so difficult. We stand in line not paying attention to anything, like a bunch of brain dead zombies. One guy, even had the nerve to wear work boots to the airport, a few years back. Are you kidding me?

Losing Your Drivers license, Like My Dad did, Is A Big No-No

My number one rule while flying, is to never lose your drivers license.

And can you guess what my dad did?

He went ahead and lost his drivers license, while getting his boarding ticket. As usual, he was in a big rush and wasn’t paying attention to anything.

Whenever you do this, they put you through an intensive process with customs.

Luckily, he just made it to the plane, and didn’t have to pay the extra $350 dollars to get back home, to Rochester, New York.

So here’s a word of caution. Pay close attention to what you’re doing, and never lose your license. If it comes between losing your luggage with all your underwear, or your License, choose the luggage.

It wont make for a pleasant trip, but at least you can buy some clothes while on your trip, and wont have to go through all the hassles of getting a new license. Or worry about identity theft.

And here’s the funny part, his license was in his duffel bag all along. If he would have let me check it like I wanted to, he could have avoided all that trouble.

Ground Transportation At JFK Airport Is your Best Friend, So Learn How To Use It

JFK airport is a cool, fun place to hang out, but it’s not the real reason why you went to New York City.

In order to see and experience everything the city has to offer, you have to leave the airport.

You have two options here.

The first one is to walk out the doors, and catch a bus or taxi.

Or you can choose the option that I prefer, and use the ground transportation.

Once I explained this option to my dad, he understood it perfectly.

Heading towards the airtrain at JFK airport in New York, New York.
Heading towards the airtrain at JFK airport in New York, New York.

Throughout the whole airport, there’s big yellow signs and arrows, all pointing to ground transportation.

This all leads to the AirTrain. When boarding the AirTrain, be very observant, because each one brings you to different places.

One will take you to Federal Circle, where all the car rental shuttles are.

Long Island Gate At Jamaica Station in New York, New York.
Long Island Gate At Jamaica Station in New York, New York.

The other will take you to Jamaica Station, giving you the option to go to Long Island, or to Penn Station.

Train not too far from Penn train station in New York City.
Train not too far from Penn train station in New York City.

If you are going to Penn Station, either the subway or the Long Island Railroad will take you there.

I suggest the Long Island Railroad because it only takes about 15 to 20 minutes, compared to the subway, which takes 5 times as long.

Just make sure you have $5 to exit the AirTrain, and proceed to Jamaica Station.

Keep Your Money And Wallet Out Of Sight While Traveling

This should seem very obvious, but to those you who don’t travel much, might not come to mind.

It’s ok, because when I first started traveling, I didn’t think about this type of stuff either.

The first time my dad travelled with me to New York City, he went to take his wallet out in the middle of Penn Station.

Never Flash Your Wallet Or Money Or Wallet Out In Public Places

I had to explain to him, that it’s never a good idea to take your wallet or money out while in an unknown city. I’ve never been mugged or pick pocketed, but that doesn’t mean it can’t happen.

Always wait until you’re at the ticket booth, before taking any money out of your pocket.

Pay With Cash If Possible

If possible, always pay for everything with cash. This way, it’s impossible for anybody to get your credit card information, while you’re on vacation.

For various reasons, if you can’t use cash, use a credit card, instead of a debit card.

A long time ago, someone got a hold of my debit card information online. Fortunately, the company suspected fraud, and stopped the charges.

I had to go through a ton of trouble, canceling out my debit card, and getting a new one. Then I had to update all the information, with the places I have automatic payments with, such as my cell phone.

Credit card companies are more willing, and easier to cancel suspicious orders. So always make this your first choice.

A Few Tips To Keep your Wallet And Money Safe

No matter how prepared we are, anything can still go wrong. The idea here is to try to minimize these unfortunate events.

If my dad would have followed a few of them, he would have never misplaced his drivers License.

A little trick I like to do, is never walk around when taking anything out of my wallet. By standing in one place, until I’m done, there’s a better chance I’ll see if I drop anything.

Walking around when removing stuff from your wallet, puts you at risk of not knowing where you dropped your important stuff.

Plus, once you walk away, there’s a higher chance that someone will see it, and pick it up.

Inside compartments of my mighty wallet by DYNOMIGHTY DESIGN.

And it’s never a bad idea to put your wallet in your front pocket, and use a thin one, similar to the Wallet that I own.

You Are Now Officially A Graduate From My Express Travel Course

Ready? 1…2…3. Jump in the air, higher than those people you use to see in the Toyota commercials.

I truly hope that this post has given you some very useful tips.

Traveling can be a very enjoyable, and educational experience, if done right.

Looking out window while walking to JetBlue terminal at JFK Airport in New York City.
Looking out window while walking to JetBlue terminal at JFK Airport in New York City.

Remember to always plan ahead. Observe your surroundings carefully. And above all, have a freaking blast.

Have Some Travel Stories Of Your Own? I’d love to hear….

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