The Big Apple, Gotham, The City That Never Sleeps – whatever you call it, New York City is a place that everyone should visit at some point in their life. The trouble is that visiting New York City can potentially put a damper on your bank account. I recently visited a few friends and family in Brooklyn and actually managed to come out under budget. It’s possible to eat, drink, explore and shop in New York for a reasonable price, just follow this guide.
Find a Reasonably Priced Place to Stay
If you have friends or family that live in New York, you’ve hit the “place to stay” jackpot but not all of us are so lucky. The words “reasonable” and “price” don’t usually go together when you’re talking about hotels in New York, but there are other options. Websites like Airbnb allow people to list individual private rooms within their property in order to monetize their extra space. These can be very valuable when you’re trying to pinpoint a “cheaper” place to stay. Just like backpacking in Europe, hostels are another affordable option.
Don’t Shop Till You Drop
Even though New York is the shopping capital of the world, try to give your wallet/purse a break and try not to buy something at every store in Times Square. Go in with some sort of a mental wants/needs list and do your best to stick to it. The big signs and flashy lights lure you in, but I guarantee that the Gap in New York most likely has the same stuff as the Gap near your hometown or online! Don’t be swindled by street vendors selling “Authentic” Gucci handbags for $100. In terms of eating, only eat when necessary. Hold off on snacking because each soft pretzel, hot dog and slice of pizza adds up very quick. Don’t be discouraged from going to go to a famous joint, but don’t go to all of them.
Subways Are Your Friend
The New York subway map is very frightening. It’s almost a guarantee, unless you’re traveling with a true New Yorker, that you’ll get on the wrong subway. A $2.50 subway ticket and a few blocks of walking sounds lot better than a $25 taxicab ride. Every situation is different, and taxi rides might make more sense if you’re traveling somewhere that’s not near the subway line, but for the most part, taking the subway can keep your wallet fat.
Manhattan Is Expensive
“New York, New York. The city so nice they named it twice – Manhattan’s the other name.” This is absolutely false, but I thought I’d throw this in Michael Scott (of The Office) quote in there because it’s too funny. In reality, Manhattan is a borough of New York, along with Brooklyn, The Bronx, Queens and Staten Island. It’s kind of universally known that everything is more expensive in Manhattan, so be sure to dabble in the other awesome boroughs that New York has to offer. Like little cities, each borough has something different to offer in terms of food, sights, sounds, and culture. But do your research – there are places to shop and eat in Manhattan for a good price, and you just have to find them.
Don’t Be Super Touristy
Don’t see the Empire State Building, take a guided tour of Manhattan, go to a Broadway show, go to a Knicks game, eat at Carnegie Deli and visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art all in one trip. Pick the top two or three things you want to do and commit to them. You may have to miss out on a few New York staples, but remember that you can always go back – especially if you don’t spend too much on your first trip.
The Big Apple is expensive, but I assure you that it is possible to experience the city’s bright lights on a budget. Don’t shy away from a little splurging, as that’s pretty normal vacation behavior, but do it in moderation. I totally understand it’s almost impossible to not to come home with an “I Heart NY” t-shirt.
Have you traveled on a budget? Share your stories in the comments section below!
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