Saving Money on a New York City Vacation

My husband and I recently went on a vacation to New York and we learned some tips for saving money on our New York City vacation. While we’ve been saving for the trip for four months, technically you could say we started saving up for the trip two years ago. Here are our tips for saving money while on a trip in New York:

Book Free Flights

Living in California, the cross-country flight to New York was one of the largest expenses of our trip. New York was definitely on our list of must-do trips since my husband has never been. Two years ago, we each opened up Jet Blue American Express cards and had been saving our points for more than two years. We waited for a deal where each flight would cost 10,000 points each way. For the two of us, that means we needed 40,000 points. With the 10,000 sign up bonus, and putting all our groceries, automatic utility billing, and grad school costs on our cards, we were finally able to have enough saved up. Our flights cost us $10.

Scour hotels

The second most expensive part of a trip is the hotel. We seriously tried everything to score a cheap hotel deal: Travel Zoo, Groupon Getaways, Priceline…nothing was coming in under $250 a night—way over our budget. The 20% tax on New York City hotel rooms also wasn’t helping much. We both weren’t ready to go the hostel route though. The NewYork50 was a great starting point for finding a cheap hotel in New York City. After spending hours reading reviews, I settled on the Larchmont Hotel. At first, I was hesitant since it was in the West Village and not in the heart of the tourist attractions like Times Square, Central Park, Broadway, etc, but it actually turned out being wonderful. The location was spot on, and since I wasn’t expecting much, we were pleasantly surprised. We ended up being able to book a Queen Room with a direct view of the new World Trade Center for a total cost of $857 for five nights—a steal compared to everywhere else I looked.

Depend on Street Vendors for Food

The hotel we stayed at offered a small continental breakfast (ie pastries and coffee), which was enough to tie us over until lunch. Every day we tried a different street vendor, which all offered us a buffet of fantastic food. Gyros, Halal food, hot dogs, burgers, bagels…we always enjoyed a hearty lunch that was seriously so good for about $5-7 a person. By scrimping on lunch, we felt fine splurging a bit on dinner.

Depend on the subway for Transportation

A subway ride one way costs $2.50. A seven-day unlimited pass costs $30 (plus a $1 activation fee for a new Metro card). Even though we were only there for five days, we purchased the seven-day pass and used it so much that we for sure would have spent $50 or more had we paid individually each time. We only took a cab ride once and it was because we had our luggage with us. You can even take the subway from the airport using AirTrain.

New York may be known as an expensive city but there are plenty of ways to save money if you watch your budget.