Recently I spent a week in New York and it was expensive! My dad was running the New York marathon so my family thought we could turn it into a nice little trip. As many readers of this blog know, we are from the Caribbean island of Trinidad and Tobago. Salaries are far lower on our island than here in the US and with the US dollar currently near its highs, it made this trip very expensive.
Trying to save money in New York was challenging but we did the best we could with the situation. Here are five ways to save money in New York that my family and I used to save us hundreds!
Traveling around New York is extremely easy. On our first night in the city, we purchased a weekly subway pass with unlimited rides for $30 each. If you plan on using the subway more than 10 times during your stay I highly recommend you do this. The reason is that a subway ride cost $3 one way. I personally used my subway pass over 30 times during the week we stayed there.
In addition to using the subway, we walked… a lot! On average, we walked over 25,000 steps a day! The only reason I know this is thanks to a handy app on my phone. Walking through the city was a great way to see the city and immerse ourselves in the culture.
The price of water is not something we often give thought to when traveling to a foreign city/country. Our family of four consumed roughly twelve bottles or more of water a day. If we were to buy this amount of water per day from the stores we visited we would have spent over $20 a day just on water.
Thankfully, there is an easy way to substantially cut this cost! Just visit your local pharmacy stores, such as a CVS or Duane Reade, and purchase a case of water. We bought a case of 24 water bottles for $5 which lasted us two days. This little trick saved us over $70 on our trip.
The food was a budget killer! New Yorkers knows that they are a tourist city so the prices are heavily inflated. Simple food from a deli would cost us $7-$10 for a measly sandwich which normally cost $3. If you were to eat at a restaurant the prices are even higher with the average meal costing over $15 and on top of this you are expected to tip.
The best way to save money in New York on food is to simply follow the crowd. Let’s face it, not many people can afford to eat at these high prices on a regular basis. This means that many people are trying to find decent quality food for an affordable price.
One such example of how we followed the crowd was to visit Chinatown. We walked around for a while scouting out where to get the authentic Chinese experience. One place we went into had nobody. Once we sat down and got a menu it quickly became apparent why. The food was super expensive! We walked a couple restaurants down to one filled with people and got meals that were half the price and still tasted fantastic.
The largest cost in New York is definitely the cost of a hotel. Saving money on the cost of a living space is tricky in the Big Apple. In our case, we needed to be near Central Park as that was where the marathon ended. Believe me, after you finish a marathon the last thing you want to do is walk far to get back to your hotel. Due to this need, we decided it was best to pay the higher hotel prices for this convenience.
However, if this is not the case with you, I recommend checking out an Airbnb or sites such as Expedia to substantially cut your hotel cost. Depending on where your hotel is, or Airbnb, you can cut the cost of your trip by hundreds.
Last but not least is probably any tourist favorite part, shopping! Many items such are clothes are significantly cheaper in the US due to competitive markets.
When you are shopping, many large retail outlets give international travelers discounts if they present their passport. For instance, when we shopped at Macy’s we got over 10% off on our purchases just by showing foreign ID. However, you need to ensure you are getting the best deal possible. By simply asking the clerk if there are any coupons or discounts available, you may find a better deal. This happened to us while we shopped at Macy’s as they gave us 20-25% off our purchases, on top of the sales, which saved us a lot of money.
How do you save money in New York or other expensive cities? What techniques mentioned above have saved you money?