Budget New York: how to save money on a trip to the Big Apple
New York is the city that never sleeps – full of diversity, creativity, energy and a unique atmosphere. It's a dream of almost all travelers, winning hearts and leaving the most pleasant emotions as a memory. The city can be very expensive, but if you plan it right, you can have an amazing trip without spending too much money. From cheap flights and hotels to shopping tips, the following tips will help you explore New York on a budget.
Apply for ESTA for $14
The Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) form is required for anyone traveling from the UK to the US by sea or air. After submitting it, you will be able to find out whether you are authorized to travel to New York or another city under the visa-free regime. The application fee is $14. ESTA must be submitted no later than 72 hours before departure.
Buy airline tickets at a good price
Thanks to competition, airlines have significantly reduced prices, so now a trip to the Big Apple will cost less than £300. To find a ticket for under £200, follow these tips.
- Use comparison services and sign up for price alerts. If the price drops, you will receive an email with the details of the route. Among the sites that offer information about flights and the cheapest travel options are Momondo, Kayak, and Skyscanner.
- Sign up for Jack's Flight Club, a handy tool for finding great deals. Once you subscribe, you will receive flight information by email. You can use the service for free or pay for a premium subscription that offers more results.
Low-cost airlines (Icelandair, Norwegian) offer flights to New York at loyal prices, but Virgin Atlantic, for example, also often reduces prices to compete with other carriers.
From the airport to New York for $11
International flights arrive at JFK (20 miles from the center) or Newark, which is located a little further away. Of course, it is most convenient to take a taxi, but it can cost $70 or more. Therefore, the best way to travel to New York on a budget is by public transport, which offers more attractive prices.
To get to midtown Manhattan from JFK, you will have to pay from $7.5 using AirTrain. However, from the Howard Beach or Jamaica stations, you need to take the subway ($2.75).
From Newark Airport, trains run to the Penn Transit station. A 25-minute trip will cost about $15, and children under five years old are not charged.
By booking a seat in a minibus or bus, you can get there from Newark or JFK airports for $20. There are also NYC Airporter and Newark Airport Express shuttles to Manhattan (about $18-19 one way or $31.5 round trip).
The famous yellow taxi
If you still want to feel like you're in a movie and soak up the atmosphere of the restless city, make sure you don't overpay. Taxi drivers can often charge tourists much more. That's why, if you decide to use this transportation, be sure to go to a specially designated official parking lot. The price for a trip depends on the airport. For example, you can get from Newark to Manhattan for $50-75, not including tolls and tips.
Save up to $100 per night by staying outside of Manhattan
The cost of staying in a New York hotel on a limited budget can be very expensive, especially when it comes to the city center. Therefore, it is worth considering options near Manhattan. For example, you can stay in Long Island City (Queens). The location is very convenient, as it is a short drive from the center. There are also many good hotels in Jersey City (30 minutes by public transport from New York), and the prices per room are almost half as much as similar accommodation options in Times Square.
One of the best ways to save money is to book your accommodation in advance to get the best price for your stay.
Hostel is a favorite option for tourists for a budget trip
This accommodation option offers the lowest prices for housing, which is why it is very popular for those who travel to New York on a budget. For example, you can stay in a hostel near Central Park for as little as £20 compared to £150-250 for a hotel room. In Brooklyn, you can rent a private room where you will live without strangers for only 21£.
You can find the best option by using the services of Hostelbookers.com, Hostelz.com, TripAdvisor. The sites offer the opportunity to read reviews, compare prices, and look at ratings.
Be careful with Airbnbs
This service is very popular all over the world, because it allows you not only to save money but also to experience the city from a different perspective. However, you need to be especially careful when using it in New York. There are strict rules about who can rent an apartment and for how long. That is why you should check for permits, because if the landlord is arrested or fined, you will be left without a home and without money.
Outlet is the best way to save money on shopping
New York City is the dream of all shopaholics, attracted by the windows and signs of the popular Macy's and Bloomingdale's. However, the prices there may not be very pleasant. If you are hunting for American brands, you should go to one of the outlets located outside the city:
- Woodbury Common has more than 220 stores, but it takes about an hour to get there from New York City, but you can often take a bus for $30 each way;
- Jersey Gardens - more than 200 stores and no sales tax on clothing.
Outlets offer discounts of up to 70% and a large number of designer items for every taste. It is worth remembering that you can only find out about the offers of such shopping centers directly on the spot, not online.
Pass for visiting places of interest in New York
If you are visiting the Big Apple for the first time and plan to visit as many attractions as possible, we recommend purchasing a New York Pass. Such a pass provides free access to the most popular locations (the September 11 Memorial, the Empire State Building, etc.) for a period of one to ten days. The price varies from 100 to 350 pounds. Visiting without New York Pass will cost much more if you want to visit many interesting places.
Tickets to sporting events for $5
New York is also known for sports, particularly basketball. However, a visit to the famous Yankee Stadium can be quite expensive if you don't know some of the subtleties. On the official website, you can find tickets at a price starting at $20. However, there is a New York Yankee ticket exchange service that allows you to resell and buy tickets for $5-10 with the possibility of bargaining. This feature can also be used if you want to attend games of the New York Knicks and New York Mets basketball teams or the New York Rangers hockey team.
Don't spend money on museums
Some institutions offer free access to their collections or at more favorable prices than the standard admission ticket, which is very beneficial for those looking for things to do in New York on a budget. For example, the Metropolitan Museum of Art has an open-ended "pay what you want" promotion, and admission for children under 12 is free. The best time to visit the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum is on Saturday from 4 to 6 pm. At this time, you do not have to pay for the entrance. Tickets to the Museum of American Folk Art are always free.
Many of the institutions are aimed at children - from virtual projections to scientific performances. For example, the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum offers a free program on Fridays from 5 to 8 p.m., the Museum of American Natural History offers admission with a charitable contribution at your discretion, as does the Brooklyn Children's Museum on Thursdays and Sundays.
Navigate like a New Yorker
In an unfamiliar city, it can be difficult to understand public transportation and routes. To prevent these problems, use the free Citymapper app, available on iPhone and Android. It's a handy service for plotting bus, train, subway, ferry, or bike routes and calculating their duration.
It is important to make sure that you do not pay too much for roaming. So you can save your route offline or connect to Wi-Fi.
Check your insurance
When traveling to the United States, it is imperative that you have a travel insurance policy. This will protect you in case of trip cancellation or in case of medical treatment, as the cost of bills can be very high. It is necessary to check whether the policy really applies not only to Europe but also to the United States. In some cases, to include a country in the list, you will need to pay a certain amount separately.
Walk as much as possible
Of course, it's a great way to save money, but it's also one of the best ways to explore a city. It's important to plan your itinerary so that you can visit as many cultural or historical sites as possible at the same time. For example, if you're already in Lower Manhattan, you can visit the National September 11 Museum and Memorial and the oldest church, St. Paul's Chapel, at once.
In the city, you have the opportunity to walk all the way from the center to the farthest corner of Brooklyn on foot, while finding many fantastic locations. A good and eco-friendly way to save money and work up an appetite, especially when it comes to a budget trip to New York. You'll be surprised how much you can save by not using public transportation.
Free cruise with a view of the Statue of Liberty
Usually, a ticket to Liberty Island costs about $30. However, there is one way to save money and see America's most iconic landmark for free. The following trick will help you save a lot of money, so it's worthy of being among the tips about New York on a budget.
A free ferry runs between Staten Island and Whitehall Street around the clock, which is featured in popular movies like How to Get Rid of a Guy in 10 Days or Sex and the City. The route runs through the picturesque New York Harbor, so this entertainment will not leave anyone indifferent.
Empire State Building without queues
This building is a truly iconic landmark that offers an extraordinary panoramic view from its top all the way to the Statue of Liberty. It's not surprising that you'll find quite long lines.
To avoid wasting time at the ticket office, book your ticket online. The cost is the same and they can be used at any time within one year. The best time to visit the Empire State Building is in the morning, between eight and eleven in the morning. This will allow you to avoid queues and go straight to the elevator that takes visitors to the observation deck.
Broadway tickets with a 50% discount
Shows on Broadway attract connoisseurs from all over the world. However, this pleasure is not cheap. For example, to see The Phantom of the Opera, you will have to pay from 60 to 155£, if you are lucky enough to buy a ticket at all.
Book your tickets in advance
It's always better and more profitable to plan ahead. For example, tickets for Broadway shows usually go on sale six months in advance. Therefore, it is better to book them immediately before traveling to the United States. The New York Theatre Guide contains comprehensive tips and answers to frequently asked questions, but we recommend using other services to book tickets, as this one involves a significant commission. For example, Ticketmaster or the official website of the show.
If it doesn't really matter what kind of show you're going to see, try buying tickets on the same day. For example, the famous Times Square kiosk offers discounts of up to 50%, but you will have to stand in line for a while to save money.
Sky-high prices for a helicopter tour
Of course, a helicopter will never be associated with a trip to New York City on a budget. However, experienced travelers say that flying over the city is an unforgettable experience. Therefore, if you do decide to take a helicopter tour, make sure that the price is not too high.
Operators often offer discounts and special offers, and you can also use the Travelzoo service to find the most favorable option (about $170 instead of $300). It's best to book the tour in advance and keep an eye out for any additional fees, which can add up to a significant amount.
As a rule, a helicopter flight includes a tour overlooking the Rockefeller Center and the Empire State Building and, of course, a detour around the Statue of Liberty.
The most popular locations in New York - for free
Not everywhere you have to pay to have fun. Many places can be visited for free. So, what to do in New York on a budget? The most popular locations worth visiting include the following.
- Museum of Contemporary Art. On Fridays from 17:30 to 21:00, there is free admission, so everyone can see with their own eyes the famous Campbell's soup cans made by Andy Warhol and many other amazing things.
- Central Station. The landmark, which appears in many films and TV series, impresses with its architecture. We also recommend visiting the Whisper Gallery, where many famous movie scenes were filmed.
- Brooklyn Brewery. The craft brewery offers weekend tours, of course, with a glass of beer.
- Central Park is the most famous in the city. Here you can go boating on the lake or visit John Lennon's Strawberry Fields. We also recommend visiting the unusual High Line Park, which was built on a railroad track.
- Behind the scenes of a TV show. If you apply in advance (about a month in advance), you can get on the set of famous American programs such as The Daily Show, America's Got Talent, and others.
- Hudson River. To see the Big Apple from a different perspective, take a kayak trip (May through October).
- Walking tour. Big Apple Greeter organizes walks in small groups of up to six people. The key is to book the tour at least a few weeks in advance.
- Festivals, plays, or concerts. There is something interesting happening every day in New York, and there is a free outdoor theater in Central Park.
- The Brooklyn Bridge connects Brooklyn and Manhattan and offers spectacular views.
Finally, take a picture in Times Square and feel the atmosphere of the most famous square with its many restaurants, shops and galleries, as well as the noise that does not subside even at night, so that your budget trip to New York will be etched in your memory forever.