Wednesday, 4 April 2018

How To Plan A Trip To New York Without Spending £££


new york on a budget blog

One of the things I get asked most often about my solo trip to New York is how did I manage to make it a reality without spending an arm and a leg and how on earth did I manage to afford to go for ten nights. Today I'm going to be showing you exactly how I saved money when initially booking it and how I kept my spending to a manageable amount when I got there;

Fly indirect

One of the easiest ways to save some serious money is to fly indirect. If you don't mind adding a few extra hours to your travels, you can often knock hundreds of pounds off of your trip. Personally one stop would be more than enough for me but you can save even more by making several stops on your way across the pond.

If you're travelling from the UK you have a couple of different options but the most popular and affordable would have to be via Dublin with Aer Lingus and via Keflavik with Icelandair.

new york iceland stopover
Next time I visit New York I'm planning on flying using Icelandair and to sweeten the deal even more, I'm going to spend a night or maybe even a few in Iceland on my way there. Iceland has always been on my list of places to visit and it really makes sense to combine the two trips and therefore save myself from spending however much, just to visit Iceland on it's own. I'm really keen to take a dip in the Blue Lagoon, see the epic geysirs and hot springs and maybe even go on one of the snowmobile tours. I mean, how amazing does it look?

If you've visited Iceland before, be sure to leave any hints or tips or links to blog posts below in the comments, as I'd love to see what others would recommend.

Look out for hotel deals

The reason that I was able to afford to stay for ten nights at the incredible CitizenM Times Square was solely because of the time of year that I visited. July and especially the days leading up to and just after the 4th of July were almost as cheap as visiting in the freezing minus degree temperatures of Winter. This is due to the fact that most of Manhattan becomes a bit of a ghost town that week as native New Yorkers flock elsewhere to celebrate the July 4th weekend. That and the fact that it is incredibly hot and humid in July, something that may put some people off visiting. I had absolutely no problem with either and actually loved how quiet it was (in New York terms, anyway). You could definitely notice a difference when everyone had arrived back in the city the following week! It was also a nice change weather wise from what I'm used to in the UK when it comes our 'Summer'.

There's also lots of deals to take advantage of in the Winter months, particularly January and February for the opposite reason and around big US holidays like Thanksgiving.

TOP TIP: The best way to find out about specific hotel deals; sign up for their newsletters. CitizenM, who I could not recommend enough, have a special rate for members regardless of the time of year and several special deals throughout the year as well.

Think about where you'll want to eat when you're there

Obviously there's nothing wrong with treating yourself, especially when you're in one of the greatest cities in the world when it comes to food but that doesn't mean splurging on every meal when you're there. Pick one or two restaurants that you really want to visit and even mark down which nights you'd like to visit. As for the rest of your trip, you've got to try one of New York's world famous pizza slices, grab a pretzel and there are so many incredible sweet treats to indulge in too, from the likes of Dough, Milk bar and even Magnolia Bakery.

At lunchtime, see which food truck has the biggest line of office workers behind it and get in line. There's no better way to eat like the locals at lunch time. As for dinner, you'll also find lots of happy hours and special deals to take advantage of.

TOP TIP: Avoid the big Times Square chain restaurants as much as you can. Some do have the 'novelty of being in the US' factor but there are so many better and often significantly more affordable eateries to be discovered in NYC. Do a little bit of research before you get there.

new york citypass reviews
Pay for activities and excursions at least a month before you leave

Not only will you have more spending money when you actually get there but this seriously lightens the load and can often allow you to spread out payments to make it less of a hit to your bank balance. I used the CityPASS on my trip and found it incredibly useful both when it came to visiting the attractions and often skipping the queue, to knowing that I had budgeted for all the tourist attractions that I would need to pay for well in advance of my trip. It also saved me from having to pay for tickets at the door at the likes of Top Of The Rock, the American Museum of Natural History and the 9/11 Museum. Let me know if you'd like to read a full blog post on the pros and cons of such a ticket package as I really do have plenty to say on the matter, so much so that it would totally take over this blog post if I were to write it here.

If you plan on using a credit card (I honestly can't recommend the Halifax Clarity credit card enough for travelling with - thanks Martin Lewis for the recommendation!), make sure to have it paid off in full before you go so that you have your full credit limit to use whilst you're there, just in case you do need it.

Take advantage of what Manhattan (and the outer boroughs) has to offer for free

Whilst I've just mentioned some of the attractions that you will have to pay for, there are so many things to do in NYC that are completely free and I've got a feeling that basically all of them will be on your list of places to see/visit. For example, I bet you'll want to visit Grand Central Station, see the Flatiron building and check out Central Park during your trip. And there is no admission price for any of these iconic New York attractions. Neither is there for the High Line, the New York Public Library, the Coney Island boardwalk, the 9/11 memorial fountains or the Brooklyn Bridge. You can also see Carrie Bradshaw's apartment, the Friends apartment and lots of other locations from film and TV just by tracking them down.

Visiting New York can be crazy expensive but it certainly doesn't have to be.

what to see in new york for free
TOP TIP: Take the Staten Island Ferry for free to see the Statue of Liberty and the Manhattan skyline

So there you have it, how I managed to plan and book a trip to New York without spending £££.

Do you have any money saving tips when it comes to booking holidays and for when you actually get there? If so, what has been your biggest money saver? What do you think of my top tips? And is NYC on your list of places to one day see?
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