A bite of the Big Apple – how many people’s dream is that? Though it can be expensive, there are still ways to help keep the expenses low in the big city.
#1. Use public transport for transits between Airport and the City – There are 3 major airports in NYC. A combination of:
1) AirTrain & Subway cost $7.75 to/from John F. Kennedy International (JFK).
2) Subway & Bus cost $2.75 (transfers are FREE between subway and the bus M60 when paying by Metro Card) to/from LaGuardia (LGA).
3) Bus from $5.50, or NJ Transit + AirTrain at $12.50 to/from Newark-Liberty International (EWR). (+$2.75 for subway to/from other areas that are served neither by these public transport nor express bus).
While shuttle service will cost you around $13+/- each way from these airports to the city.
#2. Avoid Sightseeing Tours – Instead, choose the FREE Staten Island Ferry for a fantastic view of the NYC Harbour, and Statue of Liberty from afar. Plus, you get to explore another area. Head down to South Street Seaport for its beautiful night view, and sights of Brooklyn, Manhattan and Williamsburg Bridge.
#3. Round up the places that you would like to visit – and walk instead of taking the subway. This will help to cut down on your expenses for transport. For e.g., take the subway to Whitehall St. Stn. and from there, walk towards uptown, visiting places like Wall St., South Street Seaport, Chinatown and Little Italy. Fares have gone up recently ($2.75/trip) and travelling to each of these places by subway will have you spending $11/day. Remember to get one of those Unlimited Pass if you are staying for at least 7 days, starting from $31.
#4. Couchsurf – accommodations are going to be expensive. The cheapest rate I found online is around $30/night based on 1 guest. The community is huge here in this city and your chances of finding a host can be pretty high. Join the local community members for a drink at one of their regular meetups even if you cannot find a host (check the website for more details).
#5. Look for FREE activities – one of the reasons why I never get bored in this city. With so much to do and see from dance classes to kayaking on the Hudson River to Shakespeare in the park though most of these activities are only in the summer. You just have to keep a lookout for it. Follow TimeOut New York on Facebook, or grab that free newspaper at subway stations to check out the latest buzz such as FREE burgers from Shake Shack.
#6. Pack lunch & light snacks for the day – as eating out can be expensive and will soon eat into your budget. Or eat at Chinatown where they have economical rice with 3 dish & 1 soup starting from $3.50. You may have them for To Go if you cannot finish (food portions in NYC are pretty big), and heat it up later back at the hostel. For dining out, you might want to take a look at the local mobile apps and see if you can find any coupons. Drinking in NYC can be cheap as well. They have great happy hours where you can find $5 mojito, or check out East Village.
#7. Visit museums when they are open to public for free – it can be a day of the week or during a certain time of the day. OR check if they offer pay-as-you-wish/donations as admission fee where you can pay as little as $1. Every museum have at least one of these offers.
#8. Get discounted Broadway tickets – there are many ways to do so. Get in the queue early and try your luck for RUSH and Lottery ticket. TKTS booth sells same day tickets (except matinees, which are sold a day in advance at the South Street Seaport and Brooklyn TKTS locations) at up to 50% discount. Already discounted tickets can also be found online at websites like BroadwayBox.
#9. Shop for less – when shopping at departmental stores like Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s, remember to get your visitor’s pass which gives you at least 10% discount (and this may be use on top of already-discounted items!). Try having the staffs check and buy a particular item online for you. This may come cheaper than buying in stores (not sure if she applied staff’s discount while doing so, but I got a piece of dress at 50% off + free delivery to my place).
So if the cost is what kept you from visiting New York City, make your dream trip come true with these tips.