Vacations are expensive…unless you’re one of those trip planning wizards who can get 17 credit cards that magically provide you with First Class tickets across the world and free hotel stays for 2 months. If you’re one of those people, then get outta here. If you’re not, vacations are expensive. That fact is pretty inevitable. However, there are some things you can do to help bring the cost down. We lived on the East coast last summer and made countless trips into New York City. Here are some tips I picked up to keep our excursions to the Big Apple from breaking the bank!
1. Use an app like TodayTix to get last minute tickets to Broadway shows.
We discovered TodayTix early on in our trip, and I’m so glad we did! It allows you to purchase heavily discounted tickets for Broadway (and Off-Broadway) shows up to one week prior to the show date. You can choose the showtime and price bracket you’re comfortable paying. Once you pay, you will be greeted by a TodayTix team member the day of the show outside the theater with your tickets! It sounds sketchy, I know. However, we used TodayTix multiple times and never had an issue! If there’s an in-demand show that you don’t want to miss out on, definitely buy your tickets ahead of time. However, if you have some room in your schedule, definitely consider using TodayTix! You can also enter their lotteries for various shows to get even heavier discounted tickets. You can use my referral code to save $10, too! Simply enter ITHIP during checkout.
2. Stay outside of NYC and take the train in.
We were living in Princeton, so we took the NJ Transit into town every time. If you’re going for a short trip, it may be more cost/time effective to simply stay in the city. However, if there are other parts of the East Coast you want to explore on your trip or you aren’t short on time, consider staying outside of NYC. Chances are, the hotel will be less expensive. We’ve gone on trips to Maryland where we drove to Secaucus, NJ and took the train to Penn Station from there for only about $10. It’s definitely something to consider to keep costs down!
3. Make your “souvenirs” experiences.
How many times are you really going to wear that I<3NY shirt or admire that NYC skyline snow globe? Chances are you’ll be happier if you spend that money on tickets to a Broadway show, seeing a special exhibit at a museum, or on a box of macarons from Ladurée. Even if this doesn’t technically save you money, at least it will be money better spent.
4. If you can’t resist a souvenir, plan what you want or what you’ll spend ahead of time.
Every trip we go on, I purchase an ornament for my souvenir. I love filling our tree with our memories of our travels every Christmas, and it takes the stress out of what to buy when we’re on vacation. If you plan what you want to purchase or at least your souvenir budget ahead of time, you’ll be much less likely to go crazy at that random kiosk in Times Square.
5. Souvenirs get cheaper the FURTHER you get from Times Square.
That yellow NYC Taxi shirt you have to have? Chances are it’s about half the cost at a souvenir shop a few blocks further away from Times Square. Times Square is a major tourist trap, so basically everything in the vicinity is overpriced. If you have the time, explore the area further from Times Square. Actually, plan to explore areas away from Times Square. They’re much more relaxing, beautiful, and empty than Times Square, guaranteed!
Walk around! Don’t take a taxi, or a bus tour, or a pedicab. WALK! You can see much more of the city that way! Plus, New York City is so easy to get around by walking. You can stop and admire things that interest you, and you may stumble across a hidden gem on your journey. Would you rather pass by the New York Public Library quickly from a double decker bus, or walk up to it and explore the inside on your own time? If you’re in a rush or can’t handle too much walking, try an Uber. If you’ve never used Uber, use my referral code to sign up, and get your first ride free! My referral code is: alil599ue.
7. AVOID CityPass & Tour Buses.
CityPass MAY be a good deal, if you complete EVERY attraction included in the ticket. However, their pricing “includes” full price tickets for places that are actually “pay what you wish.” Therefore, they may not be the exceptional value that they seem. And tour buses are a waste. As I mentioned above, the city is so walkable, and riding on a bus means you can’t see things up close or stop when you want to explore an area more. Yes, many of them are “hop on and off,” but we often saw long lines of people form that were waiting for the next available bus. Why sacrifice valuable time when you could simply walk to your next destination and enjoy the city along the way?
8. “Pay what you wish” at certain museums.
Most notably, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the American Museum of Natural History, are both pay what you wish. That means, technically, that you could pay 1 cent for your ticket. While both have suggested donation ticket prices, you are not held to these prices at all! It’s as easy as walking up and saying, “Two tickets for $10, please.” Simply decide how much you feel comfortable paying for your ticket, and offer that amount. While certain exhibits have an additional fee, the majority of these museums are included with a base ticket. Many other museums in NYC offer pay what you wish or free visitation days as well. Do your research if there are any you’re hoping to visit!
9. Use the subway!
Yes, I know this contradicts what I said about walking everywhere. While NYC is much more walkable than other cities, it’s also VERY big. For example, it would take roughly two hours to walk from the Met to the Brooklyn Bridge. Sometimes the subway isn’t the easiest or quickest option, but you should definitely consider it. It may seem a little intimidating at first, but there are plenty of helpful people around if you have a question. It can cut down on your travel time, plus it’s a memorable experience! Beware of altered/delayed schedules as well!
10. Visit free attractions.
So many noteworthy spots in New York are totally free to enjoy! A few that come to mind right away are Central Park, the New York Public Library, the High Line, the Staten Island Ferry, and more! A quick Google search will offer up list upon list of free things to see and do in New York City! Peruse those and make a list of fun and free things to do on your visit! Leisurely strolling through Central Park was one of our favorite activities in the city, and it never got old.
Like I said, vacations are inevitably expensive. However, hopefully these tips will help you save some cash or at least feel better about the money you do spend! Most importantly, have fun and make memories in one of the most exciting cities in the world! Feel free to browse my #TraveLANG hashtag on Instagram to see more travel tips & ideas!
Any questions about specifics of one the tips I mentioned? Comment below, and I’ll do my best to help out!