‘New York’ and ‘budget trip’ are not really two things you hear in one sentence together, but it can be possible. Luckily for me, this October I’ll be heading back to New York for my third time, thanks to my best pal who won a trip to the Big Apple which includes a stay in The London NYC.
When Katie messaged me at the beginning of the year to ask if I’d like to share this trip with her, my first reaction was – of course – OMG YES. But then the next few thoughts that went along the lines of ‘ahh, how much is this going to end up costing…?’. As you might have seen from my blog posts previously, I went to NYC with my boyfriend last Summer, and so I’m aware of how the trip can get pricey, so this time we’re going to try and do it on a budget.
Obviously, not every trip to New York is free, so I’m lucky that ours is, but obviously I will still be paying for everything we do, see and eat whilst we’re there. But with enough planning, I really believe we’ll be able to do this trip without frazzling our credit cards. I’ve included my main tips below:
- Fire up the Pedometer
New York is a huge place, and the subway is a pretty cheap and convenient way to get around quickly. But get those comfy trainers on and walk to your destination instead, and you’ll see so much more when you do. Walk across the Brooklyn Bridge, explore Greenwich village and little Italy, or just walk up 5th Avenue and window shop along all the designer stores. Walk around Central Park, view the New York skyline from the Jackie O reservoir or pay a visit to the John Lennon Memorial. Walk to your hearts content and take in the scenery on the way, it’s one of the best ways to see New York and to stumble across spots you might not have seen otherwise. It will also save you money on cabs and any subway trips you would’ve taken!
- Happy Hour is your friend
Food and drink is expensive in New York, but not if you look in the right places and at the right time. When I’ve been looking up places for us to go I’ve noticed a Happy Hour at most food spots, and majority of them definitely go on for longer than just an hour. Also, Happy Hour doesn’t just apply to the drinks you might want, most places also include discounted food to snack on as well. Take for example, Bubby’s which has drinks & snacks for $7 in their happy hour. It’s worth sourcing them out, as it’ll save you a lot in the long run, because the food portions are never small. Which leads me on to my next point…
- Do you really need to eat that?
No, I’m not being a terrible person here, I fully condone you eating to your heart’s content. But in New York, and America in general, the food portions can often be huge. On trips to the US I tend to stick to a routine of just brunch and dinner rather than the full three meals a day, as I just can’t fit it all in. Another great thing about New York is there are some incredible snacks to find, like the Taiyaki fish-shaped waffle ice cream cones, or cronuts, which you can always pick up if you get a bit peckish in the meantime.
- Be aware of extra costs before you go
City tax is a stinger in most cities and it definitely applies in New York. It won’t apply to your hotel room when you book online, so don’t forget to factor it in before you go, so you don’t spend all your holiday pennies and get stung when you check out. Also remember that in America they add the tax on after the initial cost you see, so always be prepared to pay a bit extra. If you’re feeling fancy and want to go for a shopping trip in Bloomingdale’s or Macy’s, you can apply for a tax discount if you provide your passport as proof at customer services. Also, don’t forget to tip whilst you’re there – and not just after food, also for taxis and hotel staff. It might not be as common in the UK but in America it’s a big deal.
- The best things in life are free
It’s true you know, the best things really are free. And whenever you’re travelling always factor in the things you don’t need to pay for. In New York you can walk around Central Park, visit Items Square, walk along Brooklyn Bridge and just peruse along 5th avenue. They cost nothing, apart from the occasional coffee or glass o’ wine you might like along the way.
- Pre-book any tickets
If you do decide to do any activities that you need to pay for, consider buying them first online. Not only will you beat the queues on the day, but you’ll also often find there are deals or discounts if you get it from the website. You can also purchase the New York City Pass which offers discounts if you’re planning to go to the big ones, such as The Empire State Building or The MoMa.
And there we have it! All of the tips I’m sticking to when planning our budget-friendly trip to NYC. We’re over a month away and I’m super excited and still frantically working out what to pack – because who knows what the weather can throw at us?!
If you have any budget tips I may have missed please comment down below! And follow my NYC adventures over on my Instagram page.