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Visit New York City for Less!

Updated on June 8, 2013
You can't quite read the sign but it says Broadway!
You can't quite read the sign but it says Broadway!

Tips for Broke People Who Love to Travel

If you have read any of my other travel tips, then you already know I LOVE to travel, but also don't make a ton of cash. Here are a few starter tips for the cash strapped traveler, then we'll get into the NYC specific stuff!

  • For us broke folk, planning ahead is necessary. New York isn't expensive if you know how to do it right (Don't worry, I'll tell you!), but if you have bigger dreams (like Europe), plan on saving a year in advance
  • The Change Jar - I have managed some awesome trips, including Rome, Italy by dropping my spare change into a jar every day. My suggestion is to up the ante and drop in dollar bills, too.
  • Every time you spend money ask yourself "Would I rather spend two dollars on this energy drink here...or in New York City?" (or where ever you want to go).
  • If you truly love to travel, you will have to sacrifice. If it is not worth it to you, that is okay! But for me skipping expensive cable,a larger apartment, and a nicer car are TOTALLY worth the cool places I have been able to visit!

TImes Square, yo!
TImes Square, yo!

Cheap New York City Flights and Accommodations

Looking for some great ways to fly and stay in New York City without spending a bunch of cash? It isn't as expensive as you think! Here are a few tips on making sure you don't spend a crap ton of money getting and sleeping there.

  • DO NOT (really, I mean it!) stay in New Jersey if you want to visit New York City. Yes the hotels are cheaper, yes the city is just a twenty or thirty minute bus ride. NO you will NOT save money. I made this mistake once. The first time I visited NYC I booked a NJ hotel, thinking it was only a few dollars to ride a bus to the city. Not true anymore. We paid fifty dollars per day round trip for two people and wasted two to three hours each day doing this. DON'T.
  • DO mix and match the airports. New York has two large airports and a great transit system, so it really doesn't matter which you fly in or out of. One may be cheaper going and the other might have a cheaper home flight.
  • DO look into a travel site that will book your hotel and flight together, but also check on prices for a flight alone. I like Hotwire, but feel free to shop around.
  • DO book several weeks in advance or at the last minute for the best deals. I last visited in New Years 2010 and paid $200 round trip. Off season I have flown in for $140 or less from Florida.

Top of the Empire State Building, Looking down.
Top of the Empire State Building, Looking down.

Around Town

Once you have the flight and hotel booked, here is a few tips to save you cash while in the city!

  • DON'T pay full price to visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art aka The Met).The posted admission price ($25 last time I visited) is actually a suggested donation. (It says so in super tiny letters under the price). Give em a dollar, and smile while you do it!
  • DO BUY a weekly unlimited ride subway pass iff you are going to be in the city for more than three or four days. No matter how little you think you will ride the subway, you will need it! Inevitably you will get on the wrong line or go more places than you originally planned. Seriously. Trust me and just do it.
  • DON'T pay for guided tours. If you are traveling on a budget, use the internet to do some research or bring along a well educated or local friend.
  • Skip the taxis. Yes they are everywhere, yes they will get you where ever you are going quicker, but if you are traveling cheap then skip em. You can take a subway within a short walk of any where you want to go.
  • DO pay to go to the top of the Empire State building (general admission) , but don't pay to go to see the Statue of Liberty. It is usually closed. And (for me at least) going up wasn't that important. If I was rich, sure. But I'm not, so I skipped it, maybe next time!

My Favorite Places to Go

So, the broke travelers on a budget portion is over. Here are a few of my favorite spots in New York City.

  • Duck Duck Bar in Brooklyn. Awesome little hole in the wall whiskey/beer joint. Plus, the tattoo shop next door is called "Goose". (Duck, duck...goose...sorry, it made me giggle) Try the hot shot, and you MUST get a pickle back. Do it.
  • Teuscher Chocolate Shop Right by the Rockefeller Center. Expect to pay $2 for the best freaking chocolate you have ever tasted in your life. (It will be a really, really small piece, but so worth it)
  • Mamouns Falafels in Greenwich Village (by Washington Square) the other locations just don't compare. (Yes that rhymed...only sort of on purpose). But seriously, the other locations aren't as good.

For the record, I have actually been to all of these places and they freakin rock. That is why I am telling you about them and providing links so you can find them! I am not getting paid by any of these places, but am more than willing to accept donations of food!


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    • epigramman profile image

      epigramman 6 years ago

      ...well you may be on a budget but you're also a world class traveler who happens to be a world class writer - love your wit, charm and writing style here -and I would most certainly follow you anywhere in the world to all four corners if you had a continuing series based on your travels

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    • cathylynn99 profile image

      cathylynn99 6 years ago from northeastern US

      victor's cuban restaurant in the theater district. split the paiella between two people. the mojito's are fantastic. beware - manhattan prices - but worth it.

      ellen's stardust diner also in the theater district. the waitstaff are up and coming broadway performers who sing for you while you eat or have a cocktail.

    • carozy profile image

      carozy 6 years ago from San Francisco

      Great ideas and tips! Very helpful, I'm going to check it out again next time I plan an East Coast trip.