New York is definitely not the cheapest destination in the world and planning a trip there is like making a real investment. But there are lots of tricks and ways to make it cheaper and despite everything, be able to enjoy the experience completely.
When I was getting ready for my expedition in the Big Apple, I spend a lot of my time searching for information about cheap flights and cheap accommodations and how to spend less money once there. Here are 10 tricks I followed to plan my visit on a budget.
1. Plan your trip
I know that not all people love to plan their trips, they prefer to leave on an improvised adventure, but honestly if you have a very tight budget, it is one of the best solution to save money. As a planning and good deals addict, I always spend lots of time on planning and it has been pretty helpful to travel cheaper these past few years.
Planning your trips in advance will help to save money on different points :
If you choose in advance what you want to see and when. you will be able to booked tickets online, it sure save time but sometimes it save money too as they offer reductions onlline. Try to plan your visit by neighborhood so you will save moeny on metro, taxi or other transportations. You can also use your feet 😉
2. The flight
With the power of internet, it is pretty easy to find cheap deals for flight around the world. But to be sure, to find the cheapest one; here is a series of rules to follow :
- Be smart when you block the dates of your trip, according to the season, prices can’t be very high, so check the prices before choosing your dates. It is the best way to start planning your expedition;
- Use price comparison website: it is the best way to find the cheapest price for a flight. Personally, I use Edreams, but as the platform asks you for fees I always end booking my trip on the airlines company website. For example, last week I was looking for a flight for Milano and I checked the prices on Edreams, but when I folded my choice, the website asks me to pay 30€ more. As the flight was from Ryanair, I just visit Ryanair website and booked my flight there without any fees.
- Be flexible: sometimes, prices can drop if you choose to leave the day before or the day after. It can make a big difference, believe me!
3. The Accommodation
After the flight, the accommodation is generally what cost the most when you travel. In the center of NYC, hotels are pretty expensive. Here are some tips to find a cheaper location to stay.
It is not an obligation to spend a big amount of money on a hotel room in the center of NYC when you can stay in one of the other boroughs, or even in another state, for example in New Jersey. The New York’s public transportation system will help you to reach marathon easily and quietly. And you will see that even with the cost of extra transportation, the saving is significant. When I was looking for our accommodation for our NY trip with my friends, we choose to booked an apartment in New Jersey with Airbnb, and we didn’t regret it at all, the apartment was beautiful and comfortable and we just had to take the bus (a less than 30 min ride) each morning to reach Manhattan.
When you travel, there are also plenty of other accommodation options besides hotels, likes hostels, youth hostels, apartment rentals, home exchange, couch surfing.
The last solution is to book a hotel room with a shared bath: When you are looking to rent a hotel room, sometimes some rooms have a shared bath. It can’t be a very good deal, If you are fine with sacrificing a little of your comfort to spend less money or for a better hotel and a better location.
4. Tourist Attractions
If I can give you one tip about travelling on a budget, it would be… purchase a tourist pass ! I did it several times, for Rome, Dublin and NY. And each time, it was a big financial (and time) gain. If you know you’ll be visiting lots of popular attractions during your stay, you may be able to save money with a city pass.
Concerning the New York Pass, it gives you entries for the most visited attractions over a set number of days for a fixed price.This pass not only save you money but also enable you to skip the lines and so is a gain of time as well. Visit the website for more information.
Reduced admission: Before your departure, check the websites of museums you plan to visit and look whether they offer any reduced-price or even free admission days.
Free attractions: Some attractions are free all the time. My favorites are Central Park and the High Line, two big popular places in NYC. If the weather is nice, enjoy a walk there, it is almost always full of street performers, musicians roaming around, and food truck where you can eat delicious food for cheap.
There are lots of museums in New York City, of all shapes and all sizes. Many offer suggested donations, it means it’s only a suggestion and you can pay what you wish or can afford. Some museums have free days or nights, so check their websites for more information.
The food budget is a budget that can rise quickly and you must not ignore it.
The first trick to save money on food is to follow young people and student. Usually they youngs know the trendy cheap places. You will find them around colleges and universities areas.
Second tricks, chill in the streets. NYC is renowned for its street food and you will miss out if you eat each meal in restaurants. Get a hod dog or ethnic food, in NYC you can eat your way around the globe without even leaving the city or paying more than a few bucks.
Last tricks, visit ethnic neighborhoods. There are areas, like Chinatown, Little India and Little Italy that are a good deal for affordable and delicious meals.
Concerning drinks, If you want to save money at the bar, go out early and take advantage of happy hour and less crowded places.
7. Shopping time
New York City is a one of the top world destinations for shoppers. And if you are a shopping and clothes addict It will be easy to spend all your travel money on designer clothes. But don’t worry shopping can be affordable. Here are a few posts that highlight all the best shopping discounts in the city to find the best good deals.
8. Shows and Entertainment
Shows and entertainment are a big part of New York and it is not because you are trying to get on your budget that you don’t have to experience that.
Search for low-cost events: There are free or cheap concerts, art exhibits and other fun events happening all over the city all the year; the big deal is to find them. The best way is for sure internet (that’s why it is very important to plan, haha “here she comes again with that planing things”). Here is two links that will help you with your searching :
If you want to buy Broadway show tickets. You have to know that it can be pretty expensive.
The simplest and best known way to find discounted tickets is to wait in line, on the day of the show, at Theatre Development Fund’s TKTS Booth, you will find it under the red steps in Duffy Square. All the biggest hits are on sale there, usually at 50% off. But this solution has its inconveniences. You have to wait there for a long time and you can only get tickets on the day of the shows which is pretty annoying when you just have a few days in the city.
Fortunately, the Internet provides full of options for those who want to plan before leaving. Here are some reliable source where you will find cheap tickets :
nytix.com (you will need to register for $4 per month, but despite that still a good deal)
9. Cheap or free stuff to do
Visit the website Time.out. They published articles on cheap and free activities in New York.
Here are some :
10. Treat yourself! you’re worth it
Even if you are traveling on a budget, it doesn’t mean you have to forget everything expensive the city has to offer. Enjoy at least one dinner in a gastronomic restaurant if you like that kind of food or buy a fashion designer outfit if you are a clothes addict. Don’t be too hard on yourself and have fun.
I hope these few tips will help you to live the NYC experience in a cheap but fun and unforgettable way.
Sandra, The Travelling Brunette.