Trip Report: New York City Thanksgiving


 Trip Report: New York City Thanksgiving

I was given the opportunity of a lifetime to visit NYC for Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. With my mom along for the excursion, we were flown out to New York for an experience we’d never forget.

Arriving at JFK the day before Thanksgiving, we needed to make our way to Manhattan. There are a few different ways to get into the city from JFK or LaGuardia Airport. Taxi, car share, Shuttle, or subway are the most common. I chose a taxi since I know it’s a flat rate traveling into Manhattan and it’s easy to get right outside baggage claim. Something new I noticed since the last time I was there, is that the Port

Authority of NY & NJ gives out receipts to show the rate and cab number you’re getting into. No doubt this cuts down on drivers pocketing money or overcharging.

When you get into the cab they will ask for your destination and enter in code 2 into their meter which is the flat rate fee + any tolls or surcharges. Another new thing I noticed is the touch tv screen in the back seat where you can view your rate, city information, and payment options at the end of the ride.

We checked into the Hilton Garden Inn Time Square, not actually in Time Square but right around the corner on 8th Ave between 48th & 49th St. I typically like to stay at Hilton properties because of their Honors reward program and the amenities they come with. If you like staying at hotels check which company will give you the best rewards based on your needs. They all tend to be really competitive to make you their loyal customer so you have some choices.

I enjoyed our stay at the Hilton Garden Inn TS, they have spacious clean rooms and friendly staff. Our view overlooked 8th Ave out towards the Hudson River. When I needed a few items for my new tattoo, there were two choices nearby, a Duane Reade (Walgreens company) and a Rite Aide. The nearest subway entrance is a block up on 50th St. a blue line, which was a bonus for us, as it had an elevator for my mom.

On Thanksgiving day we woke up at 4:30 am and hopped onto the subway going uptown towards our grandstand entrance. Our tickets stated they start letting in at 6 am, we got there at 5:30 am and there was already a line around the block. Once in, we were directed towards the bleachers that line Central Park West. We had amazing seats but definitely froze! A few things I wish we would have brought; seat pads, a blanket, and hand warmers. For some reason, I expected there to be music playing during the parade but there wasn’t.

After the parade, we went to the Top of The Rock Observation Deck at Rockefeller Center. What an amazing view of Manhattan! You can purchase your tickets online in advance for a selected time slot

and arrive a few minutes before that designated time. There are 3 observation decks once up top and special tickets you can purchase to come back at sunset or night.

For Thanksgiving dinner, we were treated to a luxury buffet at The View Restaurant, which sits 48 stories above Time Square in the Marriott Marquis. The floor rotates giving spectacular city views, making a complete 360 during the hour. There were 3 or 4 stations with different offerings of a decadent food assortment. Add great company and red wine sangria and it made for a memorable evening.

We continued the next 5 days running around Manhattan in full tourist mode. Since this was my mom’s first time in NYC I didn’t want her to miss a thing. We hopped on the Big Bus Tour, which was brilliant since she can’t walk very well. They have 4 colored routes plus the night tour. The only ones that don’t have hop-off locations are the Brooklyn and the night tour. There are many different tickets available depending on whether we chose the 2-day bus tour with the night tour.

We moved hotels a few times to get to different parts of the city, including Hampton Inn Financial District and the Conrad New York located across from the Freedom Tower and the 9/11 memorial. Staying at the Conrad was such a privilege, a way to end NY on a high note.
Well, that’s enough of me rambling on, thanks for listening. You can view the rest of the trip in the photos below. If you have any questions please let me know.

A Geek’s Holiday Gift Guide

A Geek’s Holiday Gift Guide 

I love the holidays and I love giving gifts, but it can also be stressful, especially if you have a tight budget or the person has a “particular taste”. So that’s where I come in! I’ve created a travel holiday gift guide to help you master the holiday season versus staying hidden in a dungeon.

A Geek's Travel Holiday Gift Guide

  1. Scratch off world map so you can scratch off all the places you’ve been
  2. Make sure no one suspects you’re hiding droids with this Star Wars luggage tag
  3. Be a professional photographer with this phone lens kit
  4. Be a hero by bringing a collapsible water bottle to the airport
  5. GoPro Hero 6, is one of my favorite cameras to capture life’s adventures
  6. There’s no wonder why Ready Player One is becoming a movie, it’s an amazing read!
  7. Pocket size Totoro umbrellas are perfect to carry when traveling
  8. Keep your chargers and cords organized with this Star Wars zip bag
  9. Tote around loot in this stylish Disney canvas bag
  10. This Bombshells passport cover makes a statement
  11. Connect Lego key chains on bags or keys
  12. One of my favorite travel companions is the Popsocket!
  13. Have a carry-on that says you love the 90s with this Nickelodeon bag
  14. Drown out the noise around you and only sense the force with some Star Wars headphones
  15. Create a masterpiece with the Surface Pro

Now kick back, relax, and drink some hot cocoa you filthy animal.

The Ongoing List of Travel Movies

One of the best ways to inspire you to travel or go on an adventure is watching flicks where they go to amazing destinations. So here is my ongoing list of travel movies I recommend, be sure to add your favorites in the comments below!

Almost Famous

Image via DreamWorks

One of my favorites! 15 year old, William is hired by Rolling Stone Magazine to tour and write a piece about up and coming band, Stillwater.


Image via Miramax

Amélie is a waitress at a Parisian café who wants to make those around her happy.

Away We Go

Image via Focus Features

Parents-to-be (Maya Rudolph & John Krasinski) travel across America to find the perfect place to raise their family.

Back To The Future

Image via Universal Pictures

No matter which one you watch from the trilogy you’re in for an adventure with Marty and Doc Brown.

Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure

Image via Orion

Alex Winter & Keanu Reeves play a couple of high school buddies wanting to start a band but risk the failure of their history class which means Ted would be sent to Military school. I mean, adventure is in the name. This movie gives you a history lesson and great quotes.

The Bucket List

Image via Warner Bros. Pictures

Two strangers (Morgan Freeman & Jack Nicholson) meet in a hospital where they share the same room and decide to complete their bucket lists before their time is up.

Catch Me If You Can

Image via DreamWorks

The chase is on around the world to catch Frank Jr. (Leonardo DiCaprio)


Image via Open Road Films

I love Jon Favreau! I swear the DMV instructor who tested me when I was 16 is his body double. Anyways….this is about Chef Carl (Favreau) and his passion for food. With the help of his best friend and son, they fix up a food truck and travel across the country delivering Cubanos.

Eat, Pray, Love

Image via Sony Pictures Entertainment

Liz played by the beautiful Julia Roberts is on a quest for self-discovery which has her taking a trip of a lifetime.

Euro Trip

Image via Paramount

In this comedy, Scott is on a quest across Europe to find his pen pal Mieke.

Forgetting Sarah Marshall

Image via Universal Pictures

Jason Segel plays Peter, a musician who recently got dumped by Sarah played by Kristen Bell. He escapes to Hawaii to get over her only to find she’s there with her new beau.


Image via Warner Bros. Pictures

The ultimate adventure movie about a group of friends looking for lost treasure.

Homeward Bound

Image via Disney

In this family favorite an American bulldog, golden retriever, and cat take a thrilling journey to get back home.

Indiana Jones

Image via Paramount

Dr. Jones! An adventuring archaeologist, need I say more?

Into the Wild

Image via Paramount

This soul-searching movie is about Christopher played by Emile Hirsch, letting go of possessions and exploring the wilderness.

Just Go With It

Image via Columbia Pictures

A comedy about Danny (Adam Sandler) trying to win over young Palmer (Brooklyn Decker) by lying to her about his fake family with Katherine (Jennifer Aniston) takes them to Hawaii.

Lord of The Rings

Image via New Line Cinema

An epic journey to destroy One Ring

Lost in Translation

Image via Universal Studios

Two lonely strangers meet in Tokyo, Japan, and share an unlikely bond.

Kiki’s Delivery Service

Image via Disney

A witch in training has to move to a seaside town where she starts a courier service.

Midnight in Paris

Image via Sony Pictures

Gil played by Owen Wilson is a screenwriter and aspiring novelist vacationing in Paris when he seems to be swept back in time to the 1920s

The Muppet Movie

Image via Disney

Kermit the Frog meets some friends on his journey from Florida to California to pursue a movie career.

National Lampoon’s Vacation

Image via Warner Bros

A hilarious comedy about Clark (Chevy Chase) trying to take his family on a vacation.

National Treasure

Image via Disney

Some people really don’t like Nicolas Cage but no matter your feelings I suggest watching this movie. A take on Indiana Jones if you ask me, a journey to find treasure and unveil the truth in history.

PS I Love You

Image via Warner Brothers

A bit of a tear-jerker, Holly played by Hilary Swank is set on different tasks left by her deceased husband played by Gerard Butler.

Roman Holiday

Image via Paramount Pictures

European Princess played by Audrey Hepburn takes a night off in Rome from her goodwill tour.

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

Image via 20th Century Fox

Walter (Ben Stiller) is a daydreamer set to find the missing picture needed to print in Life Magazine by going on an adventure of his own

Seeking a friend for the end of the world

Image via Mandate Pictures

Two neighbors played by Steve Carell and Keira Knightley embark on a journey as the world is ending.

Stand by Me

Image via Sony Pictures

Four friends set out to find a dead body.

Trains, Planes & Automobiles

Image via Paramount

A comedy staring Steve Martin and John Candy who get stuck with each other as they try to get home for the holidays

Under the Tuscan Sun

Image via Touchstone

What starts out as a tour of Italy turns into Frances (Diane Lane) purchasing a Tuscan villa.


Image via Disney Pixar

Carl is set out to fulfill his lifelong dream when he’s surprised by a tag-along named Russell.

Up in the air

Image via Paramount

Ryan played by George Clooney, fly’s around the world firing people, but he has a new co-worker traveling with him played by Anna Kendrick.

The Way

Image via Icon Entertainment

A story about a man (Martin Sheen) who travels to France to collect the remains of his son (Emilio Estevez) and ends up finishing the journey his son was on.


Image viz 20th Century Fox

Cheryl, played by Reese Witherspoon, set’s out to hike the Pacific Crest Trail alone.

How To Create A Travel Journal

Time travel is a tricky thing, this is why River Song keeps a diary, to keep everything in order. Because I’m a fan of actually remembering my trips, I keep a travel journal! Sorry The Silence, won’t work this time. I’ve created journals for specific trips, and other journals for that year’s travels in general.

This is a great way to jot down those special details that you can share with family, looking at you Dr. Jones Sr. Also a great way to display all those little papers that end up in a shoe box or junk drawer. However, I must warn you not to place a fragment of your soul in them to create a Horcrux, because you know, bad things.

The first thing you need is something to write in. You can easily pick up a journal at a store like Target or Michaels, some specifically made for travel or you can make one yourself. Because I collect so much on my trips, I will get a 3-inch binder and cut down the paper to size.

I don’t take a huge binder with me on my trip, so I collect items that are accessible to me and add them in later!

-Things to add to a journal-

  • Checklists: stuff to pack, places to see, etc.
  • A map of the locations you’re visiting. You can even mark your travel journey
  • Sketch or draw things you see, doors are an easy thing to draw quickly
  • Collect stamps or mail yourself postcards from that location. I love doing this and writing my day’s adventure on the postcard. It may take longer to get to me depending on where it’s sent but it’s a nice surprise in the mail
  • Receipts and tickets
  • Local stickers or small embellishments like pressed pennies
  • Things that create pockets like coffee collars, envelopes you find in hotels stationary kits
  • Speaking of, I like to use the hotel stationery to recap the day and then tape or glue it into my journal later
  • Photos!
  • or simply just words

Get creative! You can add anything you want, these are your memories. Share how you keep all your travel memories in the comments below.