New York City is infamous for many things – one being how easy it is to spend money there.
I went for the first time last year on a somewhat spontaneous trip with my mom, and we made some mistakes that cost us.
This time I planned ahead to save us some money. Here are some ways we cut costs on our trip to NYC.
We planned ahead.
I (kind of) love a good, spontaneous trip. What I REALLY love is planned spontaneity (definition: having multiple plans and spontaneously picking one for the day). So I made lists each day for what we would visit, including restaurants in those areas. How did that save us money? We had a plan. We didn’t get hungry and go into the first expensive place we could find. We knew what times slots were free at the tourist spots, and what times we could use our City Pass. This saved us a LOT of money.
We used Airbnb.
I normally save money with hostels, but let’s be real – I’m a hotel kind of girl. I can’t handle communal showers (I’ve unintentionally tried one, but that’s a story for another blog post). The hotels in NYC? EX-PEN-SIVE. A friend recommended Airbnb. He said to only stay at the places that have at least 200 ratings (safety first). So we booked an amazing spot in the East Village. She even made special accommodations since we needed separate sleeping areas. It cost us $114 a night, which you won’t find at a hotel.
We didn’t fly into an NYC airport.
Word of advice: always do your research. I’ve made the mistake of booking flights last minute and not even thinking about it. It’s (normally) cheaper to fly into Newark, New Jersey than to fly into the JFK or LaGuardia (which I hear is sketchy) airports. We took an Uber from Newark to NYC for about $60, which is about $40 cheaper than taking a taxi.
We didn’t take a taxi.
If you take a taxi, do it for the experience and don’t ride for very long. Our taxis to and from our hotel the first time I was in NYC averaged about $100 each. And you’ll be much better off taking the subway around the city. Apps like NYC Subway and Citymapper can help you with underground navigation.
We found the freebies.
I didn’t want my pinching pennies to get in the way of seeing the sights or having fun. That’s why I did my research on how I could get in places for free. Here’s what I found:
Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) – free on Fridays from 4-8 p.m. (warning: it gets REALLY crowded)
Guggenheim – pay what you wish on Saturdays from 5-7:45 p.m.
9/11 Memorial Museum – free on Tuesdays from 5 p.m. to close
The Bronx Zoo– free admission on Wednesdays
The Frick Collection – pay what you wish on Wednesdays from 2-6 p.m.
There are also things to do that are obviously free, like visiting Central Park, walking the High Line and going to Times Square.
We bought a City Pass.
I’m convinced the City Pass is the way to go when seeing the sights. You can avoid paying for the attractions separately and save about $91. The City Pass has you choose between some things to do, but choose wisely. Some of the places on the pass have times for free admission (see the freebies above). Learn from my mistakes, and read the fine print. Some things on the City Pass aren’t black and white, and certain attractions (like the Statue of Liberty) have to be viewed during specific time slots. If you plan accordingly, this is the best option.