How To Do New York City On A Budget

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

New York City is one of our favorite places to go. It also happens to be one of the most expensive cities in the world. Here are a few ways of my favorite ways to cut down on the expenses while visiting the big apple!

Keep an eye out for deals and check the competition! We have almost always been able to get free flights by using airline mileage points. This has probably saved us more money than anything. My next suggestion is to take a red eye flight if you can handle it. They're not the most fun thing but they are typically cheaper and it saves you an extra night in a hotel room! Once we get into town we typically check our bags at the hotel and either head over to Central Park or to the High Line to take quick nap. Or at least someone does. ;-)

If you are anything like me you are only going to be using your hotel to sleep at night and will hardly be near it for the rest of the day. Hotel prices in Manhattan can be extremely expensive so if you don't anticipate spending much time in the hotel room I definitely recommend just going conservative. Always check to see if WiFi is extra if that is something you need. It is pretty much a toss up if a hotel will provide it or not. Also check about breakfast. A hotel may be a bit more expensive but offer free WiFi and a continental breakfast so it may save you money in the long run.

If you don't care about the details of the hotel go ahead and make a bid on Priceline. We have been able to get decent hotels after naming our own price this way and haven't regretted it! 

From the Airport
I think one of the biggest mistakes people make is the very first one they make when arriving in the city. It can be super overwhelming to land at the airport and wonder how in the world you are going to get to Manhattan so they get in line with everyone else for a cab. If you want to save money purchase your Metro Card right off the bat outside the airport and hop on the bus that will connect you to the subway line.

MTA is the best and cheapest way to get around. A single ride is $2.50 so if you are going to be in the city longer than a day I would recommend getting the 7 day card which is $30. The rides add up quickly since sometimes you have to change trains jut to get to your destination.

Ride Share Services
Companies like Lyft and Uber are super popular right now and many offer your first ride complimentary.

Free Activities
Even though most things come with a price tag there are plenty of things to do during the day that are totally free. One of my favorite things to do is to pick an area of the city that I want to explore and jump on the Subway and just check out the neighborhood. I have definitely found some of my favorite places that way. Just use common sense so you don't end up in a sketchy neighborhood in the middle of the night.

Walk the Brooklyn Bridge
Staten Island Ferry 
Free museum days
Window shop
People watch
Coney Island
Watch street performers
Central Park (Sometime's you might even catch a free concert in the park. One trip we happened to be walking through in the middle of an Ingrid Michaelson concert)
Governor's Island Ferry
Walk the High Line
New York public library
Explore college campuses
Live tapings of television or talk shows
The MET (While there is a recommended $25 entry fee this is just a recommendation. Pay what you can based on how long you will be staying. One of my favorite things to do is go up to the roof. It is one of the most amazing views of the city!)

Food is a big priority on my list so I tend to splurge on this. You can always save money by packing a lunch or snacks around with you. Share a plate. You don't want to be taking leftovers with you so it makes more sense to either split a plate or order a smaller meal. There is nothing I hate more than wasting money on food I didn't finish. Never forget, there is always 99 cent pizza slices on every corner.

Broadway Shows
One of my favorite things to do while in the city is to see shows. This can end up being super expensive if you don't know the tricks to save some money. Before buying regular tickets online or at the box office always check and see if you can get discount tickets!

Lottery Tickets 

This is my favorite way to see shows! Look up the show you want to see online and see if they offer lottery tickets. There are generally 26 tickets and you can request one or two tickets. Make sure to bring your I.D and cash with you as many of them are cash only. Tickets range in price from $25-40 dollars.

Rush Tickets 

Rush tickets are tickets available on a first come first serve basis once the ticket office opens. Sometimes you do have to sit in line for a couple hours but it is usually first thing in the morning so you may as well bring breakfast with you and relax and plan out your day while sitting in line. 


Another option is to head over to the TKTS booth. You can get reduced tickets. They aren't as great of a deal as rush or lottery but will still save you some money. 


  1. I love these tips!! I wish I would have known them when I went to NY my senior year. I spent oodles of money :P There was a Wendy's around the corner from our hotel, so we ate a lot of meals there and breakfast at McDonald's across the street, that's a bit cheaper!

  2. One of my dream trips is on one to New York.. Love these tips. I'll be pinning this. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Thanks for the tips! We just moved to NYC last week, your post is right in time for me! :-)

  4. You're the best. I can't wait to go to NYC. It is my DREAM.

  5. Thank you for the great tips, I'm flying to New York City in November and I'm searching for a hotel right now. I've found that have some good deals, but I'm really going to consided bidding on Priceline even if I haven't bid even at eBay until now.


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