Ultimate Guide to New York City on a Budget

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Today I am happy to announce about my new collaboration with an American free-lance writer Jayson Goetz. Jayson contacted me a couple of weeks ago, asking if I am interested in sharing his travel tips and stories on my blog. Surely I said yes. Not only does that make my life easier during busy times (like now) but he is also an awesome writer with great ideas. Check out his first post below:

New York City remains a top travel destination for tourists from around the world. The Big Apple holds countless landmarks, museums, galleries, theatres, and restaurants which draw international attention. It’s essentially the most iconic city in the United States.

However, NYC is known for everything except being cheap, and an inexperienced traveler could find themselves blowing up their budget by not accounting for the unexpected expenses. For example, they might think that $28 tickets to the Observatory at One World Trade Center are totally worth it. Instead of breaking the budget, it’s important to look at off-beat things-to-do around the city which will give you a more genuine picture of the city anyway.

First of all, look into public transportation in the city. Packages like the New York City Explorer Pass, the FreeStyle Pass New York, and the New York Pass are worthwhile purchases only if you’re planning to hit a number of the top tourist spots. You’ll find value in savings on admission to museums and galleries, boat and bus tours as well as tickets to attractions like the Empire State Building and the Top of the Rock Observation Deck.

If you want a more flexible schedule on your trip though, or you’re only planning on stopping by one of these popular spots, you’re better off looking for deals on the individual things you want to do and saving your money for food. It may be worthwhile to get a transit pass too if you plan to stick to the subways.

NYC Subway

If you’re totally set on a historical landmark, taking a ferry to Ellis Island and seeing the Statue of Liberty up close is absolutely worth it. Once you’re across the harbor, you can also check out the Staten Island Museum. Beautifully preserved, some visitors might be able to find documentation of their great-great grandparent’s admission into the United States. It’s important to book your trip in advance to avoid third-parties on the street since they tend to hike up ticket prices. The National Park Service has information regarding the different ticket packages and what you’ll get, but children four and under are free admission and even the cheapest ticket package includes a Park Ranger and Audio tour.

Statue of Liberty

If you’re in the mood for something busier and greener, New York City’s Highline Park remains a popular spot for tourists and locals alike. Built atop a decommissioned railway, the 1.45-mile park features outdoor art installations, stellar views of Manhattan’s skyline, and the chance to stand above the honking and exhaust of the crowded streets.

Just off the trail lies Chelsea Market, an indoor shopping mall featuring fine foods and retail which sits below the Food Network Studios. Grab a crêpe or find your own personal tea blends before stepping back onto the Highline for stroll. You’re also in close proximity to Hudson River Park, a great place to lounge around if you’ve been hiking around all day.

The Whitney Museum of Art is also nearby. Unbeknown to most, Visitors can access the roof, where there’s outdoor exhibitions and room to sit and soak in the sun.

NYC Highline Park

If you want to go to Broadway, your best bet involves venturing into Times Square. That in and of itself is enough for most tourists. If this is your first time in NYC, you were probably hoping to stop here anyway. The iconic city center swarms with advertisements and a lot of people, so be prepared.

One thing you’ll find here is a TKTS Discount Booth. These booths are a project of the city’s Theatre Development Fund, and offer extreme discounts on same-day tickets for shows which have empty seats. Going here requires some flexibility and a willingness to bustle if you buy tickets to show starting in 20 minutes, but you can expect markdowns of up to 50% for classics like Les Miserables and The Lion King to off-Broadway hits like Avenue Q and many others. This might be your chance to see world-class acts on their home turf.

Times Square

To get a taste of NYC’s arts and culture, you should plan on stopping by some of the popular galleries and museums. However, these aren’t often free, so it’s important to shop around well in advance for deals on tickets and tours. There are always new things to do in NYC that a little online research could help you discover. For example, the Museum of the American Gangster sometimes offers discounted tickets online.

Some of the most popular galleries in the United States are in the city as well, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art (The Met), the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), The New Museum and others. Most of these offer discounted tickets to students with a valid ID, but there’s other ways to save on tickets.

The Met

There’s more to saving than just the attractions. To really get through a trip to NYC without breaking the bank, there’s a lot more to consider: staying at a place with a kitchen to cook your own meals, planning how much subway fare you should put onto a card to not have waste, leaving your car outside of the city to avoid paying for parking, and more. These are some of the top destinations, but you should also have plan to not spend extravagantly on your basic needs – those purchases quickly add up.


Jayson Goetz is a writer from Phoenix, Arizona that is passionate about traveling on a budget. Being a broke writer, Jayson soon learned that if he wants to travel he needs to find the best deals. He loves sharing his experiences and tips in hopes of helping people travel the world.


You can read more about finding and buying cheap plane tickets from a previous post HERE

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