New York City on a Budget

Is New York City expensive?  It can be very expensive if you do not do your research and plan your trip, but if you do your research and plan well, you can visit The Big Apple, even if you’re on a budget, and NO, you do not have to stay in the Motel 6 in the Bronx nor do you have to pull a Supersize Me and eat McDonalds every meal.

My wife and I visited New York on a budget and we had the time of our lives to the point where we still talk about it even two years later.  We stayed in a nice Hotel in Manhattan, we ate at nice restaurants, we toured the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, and we spent less than $1000 for the whole trip (we flew for free).

Here are 5 ways to travel to New York City on a budget:

The first part of your trip you need to plan is how to get to New York.  Round trip tickets to New York can cost anywhere between $200 and $500 depending on where you are flying from, the time of year, the airline, etc. etc. etc.  Shop around the different sites such as Expedia, Travelocity,, and don’t hesitate to check the actual airline websites for possible deals not listed on 3rd Party booking sights.  Be sure to check as Jet Blue Airlines’ main hub is New York JFK Airport and they often have very good deals from many locations in the USA.

Second, you need to found housing.  You can often find great deals on hotels through,, and if you’re open to staying at someone’s privately owned residence, you can check out and save a ton of money.  If you want to stay on Manhattan and be closer to all the action, but without breaking the bank, stay around Wall Street/Battery Park area (Lower Manhattan).  Avoid hotels at Times Square or around Central Park or you will pay a lot more.  Lower Manhattan not only has lower prices on Hotels, the restaurants and cafes are a lot cheaper than around Times Square.

Third, you need to figure out transportation from the Airport to your Hotel, and around the city as you visit the different sites.  You can travel by taxi, but I hope you’re a millionaire.  You can walk everywhere, but I hope you have lots of time on your hands and very good legs.  The best way to travel around New York is via the subway.  New York boasts the best subway system in the United States.  The trains come very often, and you can get almost anywhere quickly.  If you’re going to be in New York for at least 3 days, purchase the 7 day MTA unlimited pass, which will allow you to travel on subway trains and MTA buses without limit.  Last time I checked, it cost $30 per pass, and it is totally worth it.  You will save after only 8 or 9 subway trips.  My wife and I completed that within one day.  What else is nice, if you pull up Google Maps on your phone while walking around the city, you can see the subway lines by color and know which track to take to get to the site you want to see.  You can purchase your subway pass at the Howard Beach AirTrain Station at JFK airport, or MTA vending machines at LaGuardia.  If you fly into Newark, you have to take the air train to New York Penn Station as the MTA subway does not cross state lines.

Fourth, complete the trip in 4 days and 4 nights.  You’d be surprised how much you can see in such a short time, and the less nights you stay, the more money you save.  My wife and I took a Friday and a Monday off from work and visited New York on a 4 day weekend.

Fifth, plan out your activities and restaurants ahead of time, especially do your research on famous restaurants such as Katz Delicatessen, where a combo meal can cost you $25.  That way you know ahead of time what you will be spending and there will not be unpleasant surprises.


New York City: Something for Everyone

Have you been to New York City?  If you have not, I would add that to your bucket list.  If you are looking to travel somewhere unique, but don’t want to hassle with leaving the country, go to New York.  In New York City, there is something for everyone.  Describe your favorite type of vacation, and you will likely find something in New York that will meet it.

My wife and I visited the Big Apple in 2015, and it was one of the best vacation destinations we have visited in the world, and it was the best we have visited within the continental USA.  Since we have returned home, we have urged everyone we know to take a trip there.  Below are some common rebuttals as to why someone would not want to visit New York, but I have an answer for almost every rebuttal out there:

It’s too expensive: This is one of the most common rebuttals, and a New York visit can be expensive, if you fail to plan ahead and if you do not do your research.  My wife and I visited New York on a budget and were able to see a lot and we were able to eat a lot of very good food.  I will cover how to visit New York City on a budget in another blog post.

It’s too big and crowded: No doubt that New York City is a big city, it’s the largest city in the USA, and yes, it is crowded, depending on where you go and the time of day.  If you are visiting New York for a week, visit the famous sites such as the Statue of Liberty, or the Rockefeller Center on weekdays.  Visit Central Park on the weekend.  Yes, there are a lot of people in Central Park, but it’s such a huge park that you can always find a section of the park that is secluded.  You can also visit other less crowded Boroughs (counties) outside of Manhattan, such as Brooklyn or Queens.  There may not be as much to see outside of Manhattan, but they still have lots of very good restaurants and even some famous restaurants shown on Travel Channel.


I want to go to the beach: New York City is close to beaches.  Yes, you will want to go in the late spring, summer, or early fall to avoid cold weather, but beaches in New York are not bad at all and one who hasn’t done their research would be surprised to find that NY beaches are actually quite nice.


It’s too loud, I like peaceful places: Two words for you:  Central Park.  You do not have to stay in your hotel room for peace and quiet in New York, jump onto the subway and go up to Central Park.  Once in Central Park, walk into the park far and find a place with few people.  Instead of hearing traffic and honking horns, you will hear birds and the breeze. Whoever came up with the idea of Central Park is a genius!


I want to travel internationally:  As a persistent traveler, I hear ya!  I love travelling internationally too!  Which is why you need to visit New York City.  Think of every nationality, race, culture, and food that exists in the world…..You can find it in New York City….guaranted!

The people in New York are rude:  I thought the same thing, so when we traveled to New York City, I kept my guard up at first, only to find the opposite to be true.  New Yorkers are actually pretty friendly.  They are brutally honest and they are not shy to express their opinions, but they do not mean harm.  Just a word of advice, if you are at a restaurant, don’t be indecisive about want you want to eat.

New York City is too far:  Unless you live in Hawaii or Alaska, you can fly to New York in 5 hours or less.  What more?  New York City has direct flights from almost every airport in the country.  Even right here in Salt Lake City, Utah where we live, we have multiple daily direct flights to New York JFK on Delta Airlines and Jet Blue.

So, if you’re hesitant to travel to New York for whatever reason.  Go anyway, I bet you that your trip will exceed your expectations.

Two Types of Travel…..What Do You Prefer?

Although it seems there are many types of vacations, they typically fall into two categories:  (1) Relaxing vacations and (2) Tourist vacations.  A single vacation will be one, the other, or both.  Which one do you prefer?

Tourist vacations or sightseeing vacations are typically vacations where you visit a big city, another country, or anywhere where your day-to-day activities will be actively visiting famous sights, hiking a famous mountain, visiting famous museums, etc. etc. etc.  Tourist vacation spots may including places such as New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, London, Paris, Madrid.  When you visit those cities, you are usually on the up and up every day seeing all the famous sights you possibly can.  Tourist Vacations are usually not physically relaxing, but they are mentally and spiritually relaxing.

My wife and I visited New York City two years ago and we visited for 4 days.  We squeezed so much activity in those four days that we were exhausted.  However, when I returned to work, I found that my mind was clear, and I felt refreshed as I would after a relaxing vacation.

A relaxing vacation typically would be a vacation at the beach where you can lounge around in a beach chair for the entire day without doing much at all.  It may also be a destination with a spa where you can experience massages, mud baths, and pure relaxation for a few days.  After returning back home from such a vacation, you will be fully relaxed both physically and mentally, and you will be ready to return back to work fully recharged.

Then there are those vacations where you get both.  This is the type of vacation I prefer.  My wife and I recently returned from Cancun Mexico, a famous beach destination.  We spend most days relaxing, but we also spent a day touring and sightseeing Mayan Ruins.  When we returned home from our trip, we were physically, mentally, and spiritually recharged.