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Citytrip | 8 tips for New York on a budget

by Sabine
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New York: a city high on the list for many. Unfortunately, The Big Apple is also among the most expensive cities in the world. With our salary in pesos, it was a challenge to visit New York for two weeks on a limited budget. Because although New York is already not exactly cheap by Dutch standards, with a Colombian salary and the state of the peso, it is not affordable at all. Still, we did not want to let this stop us from seeing New York, and decided to find ways to spend as little money as possible, but still enjoy this city to the maximum. Here I give you 8 tips that helped us immensely to keep the trip to New York affordable.

Tip 1: Stay in a non-obvious place

New York is bursting with hotels and hostels. Plenty of choice, but all incredibly expensive. And when you find a cheap option, it’s also nice if the quality is somewhat good and you’re also staying in a nice neighborhood. For hours I searched for a hotel that met these requirements, but I did not find the place. When we started looking outside the box, we found a great apartment in Jersey City. Although on the other side of the Hudson river: you’re right in New York and you pay a lot less! Jersey City is also hearty fun to wander around and enjoy spectacular free views from the boardwalk and park of the New York skyline as well as the Statue of Liberty.

Tip 2: Stay in an apartment and cook for yourself

There are quite a few advantages to staying in an apartment that can save you a lot of money. For less money than a hotel in New York, we had a kitchen, washing machine and a nice view. The big advantage is that you can cook your own meals: breakfast, lunch and dinner. During the two weeks in New York, we didn’t went to a restaurant for dinner once and only twice did we have cheap lunch. We made everything in our apartment, even the lunch we took with us in bags and ate in the park. Buy everything you need at the supermarket and you will have $30 worth of food for several days. This will save you literally hundreds of dollars. In Jersey City, you will find many apartments. If you want to spend absolutely nothing on lodging expenses: go couchsurfing.


Tip 3: Visit only free museums in New York

Really: it is possible. There are plenty of free museums in New York. Both museums that are always free, and museums that are free at a certain time during the week. Take a look here for 8 free attractions in New York. During our stay, we did not spend a single dollar on a museum or other attraction and still saw a lot.


Tip 4: Explore New York’s many parks

Parks are free, all of them! Besides that, so beautiful, so green, so relaxing and so New York. By going down the many parks, you get into neighborhoods you might not normally visit, and so you see more of the city and leave the big tourist stream behind. Want to know which parks in New York are wonderful to wander around? Then check out my 8-best-parks-in-New-York-list!

Tip 5: Avoid top attractions New York

I know: the view from the Empire State Building or any skyscraper will be spectacular. But for those 2 tickets of $30 each, we can also easily eat dinner 3 or 4 times in Bogotá or do a few weeks of groceries. If we ever have a little more money to spend on this kind of expenses, we can always go to the top of a tower. Now we especially enjoyed the other side of the Hudson River in Jersey City: a unique view of Manhattan!


Tip 6: buy a 7-day subway card

A one-way ticket on the subway costs $2.50, but if you buy a weekly pass for $35 dollars, you can get unlimited underground travel through New York. Fast and cheap!


Tip #7: Go for a walk!

In the Lonely Planet New York you will find several walking tours through different neighborhoods in the city. During these walks you will also pass paid sights, but you can skip those. Enjoy the beautiful and diverse neighborhoods, green parks, fun markets, historic buildings and much more, including explanations: absolutely free. In addition, you will get to less touristy places and thus get to know New York better. Want some inspiration in advance? I have these 8 walks in New York listed for you!


Tip 8: fly at night

Admitted: a little easier for us than from Europe, but probably doable. We left Bogotá late in the evening and landed in New York early in the morning, then you do have all day but no extra cost for the night. Back we also flew late in the evening. So again, a full day, but no extra night. Saves you about 100 to 200 dollars for overnight stays.

With these 8 tips, we saved a lot of money, and still enjoyed this metropolis insanely. The things we skipped because they cost money, we can always do again. In fact, by looking for alternatives, you also get to less popular places, see more of the city and get to know New York in a different way. With us, this resulted in love at first sight!

Click here to see all tips for a city trip New York.

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