New York City, some argue, is the best city in the world. It can also be one of the most expensive. Manhattan hotels don’t come cheap (or even “inexpensive”), taxis and attraction admissions add up, and when your dining options include some of the top rated restaurants in the world, it’s easy to quickly spend your way into financial ruin. But the Big Apple doesn’t have to take a big bite out of your budget. Here are a few tips for saving money in New York.
Set a budget and stick to it
Sounds absurdly simple right? Yet most people fail here. Once in the city they forgot the budget entirely, lured by designer clothes and fancy restaurants. It’s easy to feel rich on vacation, until the credit card bill comes. Avoid post-trip financial nightmares by making a plan of what you must see and do each day, adding up the total cost, and padding the final amount so that when you want to splurge, you can…a little. Be realistic about yourself and your spending habits and pick a figure that works for both your shopping (or culinary, etc) addiction and your bank balance. While New York on $5 a day is probably impossible now, you could conceivably see the city for $50 or $100 or $150 per day, depending on your travel style.
Hotels are the biggest expense for a trip to New York, so if you know someone in the city, start buttering them up now. If they’re willing to offer up a spare bedroom, couch or even a floor and sleeping bag, you can save hundreds of dollars. Rentals by owner, like AirBnB and HomeAway, are usually the next cheapest option. And if you have more time than money, consider staying outside of Manhattan. You’ll spend precious extra time commuting to the major sites (not ideal if you are on a shorter trip) but you could save considerably on a place to stay.
Hailing a taxi with a raised arm and a sharp whistle (while wearing impossibly tall designer heels, of course) is a classic New York moment, and one that many tourists envision having on their trip. But taxi fares add up fast, so if you’re on a budget, ditch the cabs (and the impractical shoes) in favor of public transport. NYC’s bus and subway system is extensive and affordable, and rubbing elbows with commuters is a far more “authentic” experience than riding in a taxi anyways.
While NYC does have some of the best – and most expensive – restaurants in the world, it also has food for the rest of us too. The city is packed with fast food options, corner delis, and neighborhood bars that offer good food at affordable prices. If you’re in a real budget crunch, a slice of pizza is just a few bucks, or you can hit the local grocery store and then have a picnic in Central Park. If you’re dying to sample some of the city’s culinary gems, go at lunch for smaller portions and smaller prices, skip the alcohol with dinner, or keep an eye out for discounts on sites like Groupon.com.
By Katie Hammel of BootsnAllImage by: wwarby
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