10 Ways to Save Money in New York City

10 ways to save money in NYC

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!

9-11 Memorial

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.

Broadway Playbill

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.

Broadway Lion King

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!

Central Park Foundtain

6. WALK.

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?

Metropolitan Statues

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!

Central Park

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.

Natural history whale

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!

New York Public Library

Any questions about specifics of one the tips I mentioned? Comment below, and I’ll do my best to help out!

Times Square

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TraveLANG: New York City in February

Have you ever had a day so perfect that even before it was over, you knew you’d remember it forever? I had one of those days on February 20th. I had been in Maryland for the week because Louis was there on business. On a whim, we decided to spend Saturday in New York City. And it was SUCH a great decision. We lived on the east coast last summer (oops, I should probably blog about that…) and visited New York City almost every weekend, so we figured it would be fun to visit in the winter.

We woke up at 6:00 in the morning, got in our rented Nissan Versa and enjoyed the most gorgeous sunset on our drive. We arrived at the NJ Transit Secaucus train station a few hours later and caught the next train into the city.


The weather was perfect. It was just cool enough for our heavy jackets and just overcast enough to take great pictures. I warned Louis on the way to the city that I was going to be taking a LOT of pictures all day…trust me, I pared them down quite a bit for this post. 🙂 2

Our first stop was The New York Public Library to see the beautiful architecture.3

It was beautiful on the inside…almost like a museum in itself! We wandered the hallways, popped in all the unrestricted rooms, and tried not to annoy the many people studying inside. (Probably unsuccessfully.)45

I loved how grand and ornate everything was! We both agreed the library looked like how we imagine the American version of Hogwarts may look…or at least the American Ministry of Magic. (Yes, I know there is a whole new chunk of information about the wizarding world in North America that we’ll learn even more about soon…Praise the Lord!)67

As you can see, we pretty much had the place to ourselves, which made the structure even more impressive and easy to admire.8

This was the “globe room”, which suddenly made me realize I desperately “need” a globe somewhere in our apartment.  9

I distinctly remember saying we needed to take pictures of the rows of books below, “So we’ll remember we were in a library!” …As if we’d forget? 10

With Kindles, iPads, and tablets, I feel like hardbound books are starting to become a thing of the past. However, so many rooms we walked through in the library seemed like they were frozen in time 30 years ago, which I kind of loved. I couldn’t pass up taking a picture of the sign on the microfilm reader below reading: “Please Be Careful Not To Bang Your Head Against The Overhang When Getting Up From This Microfilm Reader. Thank You.” Louis and I wondered how many times this happened before they decided a sign was a necessity. 🙂11

More things of the past? These payphones! (So archaic in fact that I just had to Google “public phones” to remember what they were called…) We stopped and made a few calls (psych.) before exploring more.12

Louis loved these lions made of Legos created to resemble Patience and Fortitude, the stone lions guarding the library.13

After we had our fill of the library, we wandered over to Rockefeller Center. Since we were last there in the summer, we were eager to see the ice rink for the first time! We’ll have to go back during the holidays sometime to see the famous Christmas tree! (Made famous by Home Alone 2 in my mind, of course.)14

After watching the ice skaters for awhile (and sadly seeing no one wipeout), we walked over to admire St. Patrick’s Cathedral. It really is quite beautiful. 15

Our journey continued over to The Plaza Hotel…again, famous for being in Home Alone 216

We admired the general splendor from the outside, and I lost track of how many times I said, “Guests of The New Celebrity Ding-Dang-Dong stay at the world-renowned Plaza Hotel, New York’s most exciting hotel experience!” Please tell me someone knows what I’m talking about. (I’ll give you a clue…HOME ALONE 2)17

Once inside, we tried to act like we were staying there, but I think our touristy outfits and my insistence that we take selfies in every mirror may have given us away.18

We climbed the marble staircase and found a beautiful ballroom that I’m 99% sure we weren’t supposed to go in to, but life is short, and I was happy to admire it.19

We decided to balance out the glamour of The Plaza Hotel with a DELISH lunch at Shake Shack. I stayed in line to order our food, while Louis awkwardly stalked eating people in an attempt to snag us a table. His stalking paid off, and we got to enjoy our burgers and fries at a table with a window view. Anyone who has tried to get a seat at the Shake Shack by Times Square at noon, knows what an achievement this was! 20

With our tummies full, we strolled over to Times Square. I just feel like you can see in the picture below how HAPPY we were. It was such a wonderful day so far and not even halfway over!21

We snapped between 2 and 200 selfies from every possible angle, because…why not?22

There was also a cool art exhibit (?) of these giant gold shards, so we snapped another picture together there.23

After I had my fill of Times Square pictures, we walked over to the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre. We couldn’t come into NYC and not see a Broadway show, so we snagged tickets for the matinee of Finding Neverland. 24

We joined the already forming line outside the theater, next to the van below, which Louis remarked looked, “like a unicorn…no! A uniCONE.” Is it any wonder I never get tired of hanging out with him? Hilarious. He insisted I take a picture, so we could remember it forever. 25

Even though we purchased tickets relatively last minute, we managed to get fabulous 5th row seats in the mezzanine, which were awesome considering how tiny the theater was. The show was amazing! We both loved it. It was funny, emotional, and heart-warming. Plus, we got the extra special treat of seeing Kelsey Grammar during a limited time engagement as Charles Frohman/Captain James Hook!!! Yes, Kelsey Grammar, as made famous by Home Alone 2….er…I mean, Frasier! He was so talented and hilarious! A true highlight of the show.26

The show ended around the time the sun started setting, so we decided to stroll through Central Park to enjoy the sunset on our way to our last stop in NYC.272829

There were people out walking their dogs, jogging, and relaxing. It was a totally different vibe than when we were there this summer. It felt more laid back, and I was happy there weren’t as many tourists crowding the walkways or people bothering us to buy their self-produced CD or take an overpriced carriage ride. 30

We walked over to Bethesda Fountain and Terrace (ALSO SEEN IN HOME ALONE 2, SORRY NOT SORRY) to snap a few more selfies. For people who aren’t as avid Home Alone 2 fans as we are, this spot was also seen in Gossip Girl, Elf, and Enchanted. 🙂 It’s a great, easy-to-access photo opp! 31

Once we’d had our fill of Central Park, we quickly walked to, possibly, our most important destination of the day…Ladurée. We became addicted to their vanilla macarons this summer, and we couldn’t wait to have more! I don’t care if this sounds snobby, but you haven’t had macarons until you’ve had Ladurée. Seriously, no other macaron I’ve ever eaten even compares. We spent an embarrassing amount of money there, and we had no regrets. We ate them immediately as a snack, for dessert later that night, and as breakfast the next morning. Worth. Every. Calorie.  32

We caught an Uber from Ladurée on the Upper East Side back to the train station to head back to Secaucus. Instead of driving straight back to Maryland though, we decided to make a pitstop in Princeton. We lived there last summer, so we wanted to head back to our old stomping grounds to enjoy some spots we used to visit all the time.33

First we went to Conte’s to enjoy some delicious pizza. This place is the epitome of a college town pizza spot. Drinks served by the pitcher, the only decor is beer and sports posters, and college games are on every television. Most importantly, they have great pizza! 34

We couldn’t eat, TOO much pizza though because we definitely had to go to The Bent Spoon. To give you an idea of how amazing this ice cream parlor is, there was a line out the door when we got there…at 10:00 PM…when it was 30 degrees outside…in the middle of winter! If that doesn’t prove how delicious their ice cream is, I don’t know what will.35

They make it fresh with local, organic, seasonal ingredients every day, and it is indescribably delicious. Louis stuck with his traditional double scoop of vanilla bean, and I got a bit more adventurous with strawberry mascarpone. YES. STRAWBERRY MASCARPONE. It was seriously the best flavor I’ve ever had there…and possibly the best ice cream I’ve ever eaten in my entire life.36

Once we finished every last lick of our ice cream cones, we hopped back in our rental car, and drove back to Maryland. We finally climbed back in bed around 1:00 in the morning, bellies full of east coast treats, minds full of fun memories, and totally content.

Shout out to Louis, my sweetheart of an adventure buddy who is always coming up with amazing things for us to do together and always being up for anything. I can’t wait to see where life takes us next!

If you made it this far, thank you for letting me recap our day in painful detail. It was just such a perfect day, and I want to remember every little piece of it forever.

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High Five for Friday!

Happy Friday everyone! I’m so excited to enjoy a weekend of movie dates and relaxation with my hubby! I just wanted to drop in and share five of my favorite things about the past week!

1. Fogo de Chao on the River Walk: The week leading up to our anniversary, Louis kept saying we could just grab dinner somewhere after he got off work, so I figured we would just have a chill night and not really do anything special. Then, he surprised me by taking a half day off work! When he got home, he had a dozen roses and a beautiful card with our plans written inside! I was so surprised and excited. Our first stop was Fogo de Chao on the River Walk. If you’ve never been to Fogo de Chao, you need to go ASAP. It is SO delicious! It’s a Brazilian restaurant where the waiters walk around with skewers of meat and slice off as much of each kind as you want. They also have an amazing salad bar and delicious sides. Seriously though, the meat is the star of the show. We were in carnivore heaven! There are something like fifteen different meats, and each one I sampled was juicy and delectable. After we were stuffed, we strolled along the River Walk enjoying the beautiful weather and each other.


2. Bakery Lorraine for Macarons: Louis’s anniversary plans continued with heading to a local bakery to get some macarons. I found out about Bakery Lorraine a while ago and have been wanting to go for months! It’s an adorable bakery in a converted house run by two amazing pastry chefs from California. We got half a dozen macarons to try in some fun flavors: Lemon, Grapefruit, Raspberry, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Buttermint, and Angel Food! I’m still on the fence about whether or not I like macarons though…the consistency was totally different than we were expecting! They were much denser and richer than I thought they’d be, but the flavors were so fun and inventive! Can’t wait to head back to Bakery Lorraine to try some of their other creations, soon! They make Poptarts in house that I have my eye on…(only I would go to a bakery and get a Poptart haha!)

23. Cards & Flowers: Our anniversary gift to each other was our February trip to Disneyland, but we always exchange cards for special occasions! We both picked out Papyrus cards because they’re the best, and we also received the sweetest anni cards from my family (thanks y’all! 🙂 ). Louis also surprised me with a beautiful bouquet of red roses because he’s sweet like that. I also have to give a shout out to my pink hydrangeas in the background that have been going strong for two weeks!


4. Charlie & Harry: I finally watched the Dancing with the Stars premiere, and the gold medal wining ice dancer, Charlie White is one of the “stars” (I feel like they use that term VERY loosely on that show). The entire episode I knew he reminded me of someone, and finally, it hit me! Charlie may be Harry from Dumb and Dumber. I mean…look at this comparison.


5. New High for Blog Views: This is probably a silly one, but I was really excited that I achieved a new “high” for views this week (on St. Paddy’s day!…guess it was my “lucky day?” Hardy har har…)! I know my stats are nowhere near as high as many other blogs, but it still makes me happy to know people are reading (and hopefully enjoying?) my posts!


I hope everyone’s week was wonderful and that the weekend is just as good!

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