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In this post we’ll learn how I only spent $300 in NYC, how I budgeted, what I ate, what I spent, saved, and most important what I saw.
It was a beautiful big big city, that I enjoyed. I could see myself living there one day.
Other than the food not having enough seasoning, and the smell of garbage on the street I have no complaints.
5 Tips to Enjoy New York Properly
Aside from the obvious tourist attractions like: Times Square, Broadway, Madame Tussauds Wax Museum, Ripley’s Believe It or Not, Carlo’s Bakery, and Dylan’s Candy Bar etc. understand that MOST OF the things you may want to see in NYC are pretty far apart…which means a lot of walking.
1). Get your hotel/AIRBNB in the city of Manhattan.
2) I don’t care if you’re there for the day. Buy a metrocard. A new one is $1 and (as of July 2018) you can ride pretty far off an $11.00 card.
If you don’t use it all, give it away as it will expire in a year.
3) In Times Square or anywhere in NYC there aren’t many public restrooms or places to rest. So take advantage of eateries while you are a paying customer. Dave and Busters has great prices on drinks and a good game room.
4) If it rains find a cheap $5 umbrella or use Trendy Turbans to protect your hair. All my curly girls understand.
5) BUY SIGHTSEEING FLEX PASS
(Do not confuse with a DAY Pass)
- For $126.00 I chose my 6 options from a list of 150+ attractions. You will find something you like.
- Expires 2 Weeks from day of purchase
- Includes most museums: all three MET’s, Guggenheim, Madame Tussauds, Ripley’ and WAAAY MORE
- Cheaper than paying per ticket
- Once I scanned my QR code I skipped long lines. My phone became my ticket
Word to the Wise: Text a screenshot of QR Code to your travel companion, or someone else, so that if your phone dies your ticket is still available.
Bonus Tip: Around NYC are kiosks that offer free wifi and a phone call and charging station.
New York City Day 1
Story Time Prologue
10:55 AM July 26th 2018
“You missed your flight.”
I turned to my cousin and his eyes were a mirror of mine. Numb horror.
“How we’re on time?”
“Check in time is 30 minutes prior to boarding time Miss Anderson.”
Frantic Chatter among attendants and what felt like forever later
They found us a flight out to NYC arriving only an hour after schedule.
Well we felt like dumb asses for not ‘automatically knowing that’ but please understand these new rules weren’t in the fine print ijs… besides I was 4 during 911 and I rarely travel by air.
Word to the Wise: Arrive 3 hours early and sit your ass down next to your gate.
How Close for HOW MUCH!!??
Our hotel was in the Hilton Times Square S The Promise
To stay Thurs – Sunday it cost $640.00 to sit in a 1 bedroom shoe box, but I loved the location to the ‘real’ NYC and Times Square. And the window opened just enough to let me peek at the city.
Understand me when I say prices are at an all time high so cling tightly to your budget.
For example, a 4 pack of wood tip Black and Mild or even two tobacco cigars will run you about $19. Pack your own tobacco, buy lighter when you get there.
Ways I saved for NYC were VERY long term I began saving in April after Hotel and Airfare were booked. See my cheapest travel options below
Money Spent from my NYC Budget
I had about $1000 but I was not comfortable spending that entire amount on shopping and food.
Sightseeing Flex Pass (choose 6) $126.00
Subway Metro Card: $11.00
Dinner and drinks at Dave & Busters $36.00
Brunch at Tick Tock: $20
Dylan’s Candy Bar: $16.00 Located inside Madame T it’s GREAT tasting and their staff was very friendly and helpful to a lost and nosey tourist like myself.
Carlo’s Bake Shop: I watched Cake Boss when I was little; so to get to buy a $5.00 lobster tail from their Times Square Bake Shop…it was just as tasty as I imagined.
Organic Gelato Shop: $6.00 for 2 flavors of a small cup of vanilla cream and coffee
Cold Stone: small $6
NYC Ice cream: small cup $5.00
Literally everyday, ice cream was my dessert after dinner. It was HOT. Idc, judge me.
All other money spent was travel expenses. I’m not joking. Paid to park at airport 42.00, cost of luggage $50. I promise you, any other expenses that don’t add up only came from food and miscellaneous travel expenses.
To Cut Costs
- Split price of gas/hotel/snacks etc
- Eat breakfast at hotel
- Ate dinner leftovers as bedtime meal or cheap dinner $15 or less
Travel Hacks for Traveling Cheap in NYC
Walking, Subway metro, Lyft Shared Ride, and your last resort should be taxi.
Be a Wise Tourist
Understand what a tourist trap is. Tourism demands that people get hungry, thirsty, and need to use a bathroom. Usually these needs can all be met inside restaurants, which means money being spent.
Travel Hacks Part 2 Continued below…
When I travel I order a heavy lunch; as I can’t tote the food with me and shop but this time our hotel was right around the corner from Times Square.
I did not go shopping. Scouts Honor. I wanted to avoid getting in more debt, and this vacation was paid for in cash months in advance.
When it ends I have to get ready for school. How can I justify spending $500 when I will need that same money for my education.
Trust me I got my eyes and stomach full enough on sites I had always wanted to see.
Spend your money on experiences you won’t be disappointed
Support Your Local Artists
Story Time: Leaving Laguardia NYC Airport
Now this may have been the highlight of the trip as far as the traveling aspect went.
We checked out of our hotel at 4 to catch our 6am flight. We are matching by accident. We are each wearing all black tracksuits, R is in all adidas, mine is all Nike. This will be important later.
We do a shared Lyft ride. Pick up S from Time Square and we’re on.
S grins and smiles at us, and the driver, we’re all total strangers. S’ head drops, and he begins to snore softly. I suppress my laughter as I realize S is drunk as shit.
Taxi drivers, Lyft drivers, regular degular girls from NY drive like GTA meets Too Fast Too Furious. The green lights control the WHOLE STREET so as long as it’s green cars are hauling ass past you Tron legacy style and all you know is the driver is calm as SHIT!!!
Despite traffic S’s head swivels like a hula girl. He stays asleep. Must’ve been drinking gin. I think laughing. When we drop him off he pops up as if he was never asleep. Weird.
It’s now 5am. I’m thinking chill people. People are still honking, cursing and SPEEDING past us at breakneck speeds, all within city blocks.
I still haven’t seen a speed limit yet. I never thought that airplanes would seems safer than a lyft but okay…
We arrive at La Guardia, we check in. I realize 30 minutes before that I’m lacking my boarding pass. By the time I get it, its 15 till and the security check in is backed up.
R speaks to a couple he’s befriended while in line (southerners know no strangers) Next thing I know, security is escorting us and the couple past an angry horde of New Yorkers…some who are waiting for the same plane as us.
We slide past the line as we’re scheduled to take off in 5 minutes. We stand at the beginning of C terminal.
Remember those all black matching tracksuits.
Our flight is leaving out of C 11.
Rock we gotta GO!!!! We had already missed one flight, and I was not staying in NYC longer than necessary.
Rock, with no shoes on, took off!! Knees to chest, legs pumping, we’re both running on straight tip toes. But one thing I can say about New Yorkers, if yall see urgency, yall get the HELL OUT THE WAY.
Not one elder, or stray baby caused us to break stride. They parted like the red sea, either because they assumed we were athletes late for a plane or they just moved because two 5’3 people were in a dead sprint for their lives.
We ran the whole terminal to C 11 and we made our plane. I haven’t made time like that EVER. And I plan to not have to again.
Travel Hacks to Save You Money
Now what if you want to travel, but even more frugally than I did. Well I agree there are more ways to save. This time I spent $300, but see how I only spent $100 in New Orleans.
If possible take a train, or bus, or drive, because airfare is expensive…but not if you know where to look.
Option 1: Student Universe
If you are YOUNGER THAN 26, OR a STUDENT sign-up with Student Universe for discounts on airfare
Student Option 2: My FAVE Hopper.
Why I recommend this app to all travelers
- Hopper watches the prices of flights
- Predicts rises and fall of cost
- Tells you to wait, or ‘book now’ based on price of ticket
- Shows you a color-coded calendar with dates of flights from least expensive- green to most expensive-red
It takes all the hard work out of shopping for flights.
I booked in April for a roundtrip flight from Jackson, Mississippi to New York for $449.60
Read my Travel Hacks: New Orleans Edition
Travel Hack: Hotels vs Airbnb
I look up my choice hotels on sites like Booking because their UI is simple, but I don’t book through the website.
Instead, I call the hotel and ask questions; tell them I’m traveling for work, and ask if they can meet my requirements and schedule. I never use travel sites because even though it says they don’t profit I refuse to believe that.
Try it for yourself and see if by booking the room online vs on the phone there will almost certainly be a hole in your wallet.
If you are traveling alone I’d recommend Airbnb private room option instead of a hostel.
I don’t think its wise to travel solo, but sometimes it’s necessary.
- Airbnb offers Superhosts: people verified as superb hosts that provide extra TLC to travelers like small goods, and toiletries etc
- Allows you to see the home/room and communicate with your potential host
- You have the option to Host at your own house
Top Travel Accessories that did NOT leave my side: Ray Bans Wayfarers, portable battery charger, Adidas fanny pack.
To conclude this post about my NYC Travel Hacks remember the following:
- Never book on hotel sites. Call instead
- Book airfare ahead and on Hopper 😉
- Split Cost as much as possible
- Buy Flex Pass from Sightseeing
- Don’t fall for Tourist traps just follow my Travel Hacks
Wanderlust– a strong desire or urge to travel
Tell me, what are your travel hacks for cities you’ve visited?
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