Did you know that New York has been named one of the world’s most expensive cities to travel? It tops as the most expensive city for hotel accommodation and for an evening out based on the food and drink expenses of an average tourist. If you want to visit the Big Apple but it is out of your price range, don’t worry. It is still possible to enjoy NYC and see its top attractions even with a limited budget. Here is our top 10 tips to travel to New York on a budget:
1. Book Alternative Accommodation
The median price for a hotel accommodation in New York is US$350 a night. Thus, when booking your accommodation, it is advisable to get it as a part of a trip package when you buy your airline tickets. Most of the time, a package is cheaper than individual planning because travel agencies buy their booking in bulk thus, they are entitled to corporate discounts.
If a package is still way above your budget, then consider booking alternative accommodations such as hostels, bed and breakfast or apartment rentals.
2. Buy Broadway tickets at TKTS
Broadway has become synonymous with New York City. A visit to NYC would not be complete without watching a broadway show. Tickets to a popular broadway show on average would cost about $100 to $200. Sometimes, it could even go up to as high as US$600, depending on the popularity of the show.
The good news is that there is a way to experience a broadway musical or play without spending too much. TKTS booths sell same-day theatre tickets at discounted prices, mostly about 20% to 50% off regular prices. By purchasing your tickets at TKTS, you are also supporting the Theatre Development Fund, a non-profit organization for the arts.
3. Cross the Brooklyn Bridge
The Brooklyn bridge is one of the most popular bridges in the United States. It is also one of the most famous landmarks in NYC. It connects the boroughs of Manhattan and Brooklyn. Constructed in 1869, it was the first steel-wire suspension bridge ever constructed.
Crossing the Brooklyn bridge will give you a spectacular view of the river, the Manhattan skyline and of course, the Statue of Liberty. It will take you approximately 25-30 minutes to cross the bridge using the pedestrian walkway.
4. Eat Dinner During Happy Hour or Try a NYC Food Truck
Happy Hour is famous in NYC. With almost 10,000 restaurants to choose from, some restaurants offer Happy Hour seven days a week to stay competitive. Dining out in New York can be very expensive but during Happy Hours, food and drinks are being offered for less. Happy Hour normally starts at 5:00 in the afternoon and ends at 9:00 at night.
5. Join a Free Walking Tour
If you want to know more about the neighborhood, history, landmarks and of course the food, but cannot afford to join a tour group, then you can join the guided pay-what-you like walking tours being offered around the city. The walking tour themselves are actually for free, you just need to give a tip to your tour guide depending on how satisfied you are with the tour.
6. Shop Wisely
When it comes to shopping in NYC, the choices are endless. But before you start your shopping spree on the plush shops on Fifth Avenue or the upscale boutiques on Soho, there are plenty of cheap alternative shopping places in NYC.
With countless shops in almost every corner of the city, you will surely find ongoing promotional sales or discounts at any time. If you are looking for deep discounts on designer brands, you can go to Woodbury Commons, an outlet mall an hour away from NYC. For even more affordable merchandise and some vintage finds, you can also go to open air flea markets that can be found in some areas in the city every weekend.
7. Stroll in the Park
New York City has 1,700 parks within the five boroughs, the most famous of which is the Central Park. There are so many things to do in the parks without spending a penny. You can do outdoor sports like biking, roller skating or wall climbing. You can play basketball or soccer. There are free concerts or movies. You can visit the zoo, ride a boat, or go kayaking or opt to just sit, relax, have a picnic and simply take a break from the hustle and bustle of city life.
Click here for a list of all the NYC parks and schedule of activities.
8. Take the Staten Island Ferry
The Staten Island Ferry is a FREE commuter ferry that shuttles back and forth from the Whitehall Ferry Terminal in lower Manhattan and the St George Terminal in Staten Island. You will get the best view of the Statue of Liberty, Ellis island and lower Manhattan from the ferry. Ferries run every 30 minutes at 24 hours a day.
Video Source: Youtube video by moving postcard
9. Use the Subway
The best way to go around the city is to acquaint yourself with the subway. It is the largest rapid system in the world connecting the whole city in 472 stations. It is fast and also economical because it has a flat rate and it runs 24/7. You can choose to pay-per-ride or if you are going to be in the city for a couple of days and plan on traveling a lot, you are better off getting an unlimited metro card. On average, it will cost you half the price for short rides to about 10 times cheaper for long rides, depending on what kind of ticket you have.
Click here for more information on fares, maps and schedules.
10. Visit Pay-What-You-Wish Museums
New York City is home to many world-class museums and galleries. If you are an art or history lover, you can see and visit as many museums as you want over and over again because there are days or certain hours of the day, mostly evening wherein entrance is free of charge. In most cases, there is a suggested admission price. The suggested admission is simply just that, it is just a suggestion. You have the option to pay their suggested amount or you can just give any amount as donation for your entry fee.
Click here for a list of museums in New York and their schedules.
If you are a New Yorker or a seasoned traveller to New York, are there other tips that you can add to the list?
Just a reminder, the threat to coronavirus is still there. So please take precautionary measures when traveling. Avoid contact with people who display symptoms of pneumonia or common cold. Wash your hands frequently with soap and water. Avoid touching the eyes, nose and mouth and eating with unwashed hands. Wear face masks. And the most important of all, make sure your immune system is strong enough to fight the virus.
First published in Pinoy Smart Living on 06.28.2018.