NYC Vacation on the Cheap

This weekend I took a group of 24 people to New York City.  I charged a commission and got to go for free, NOT.  It would have been fair, but I paid along with all my classmates, so our incentives for a cheap trip were aligned.  So of course we headed to one of the most expensive cities, but with my skills it wasn’t going to cost a fortune.

Getting there

We were going for the budget trip, so the cheapest ride was the bus.  The ticket to get from Boston to NYC was $35, but the return trip only cost $15.  By not buying a roundtrip ticket we were able to save $20.  Alternatives were the train or plane, but that probably would have ended up saving an hour or two total.


We stayed at a hostel in Chinatown.  The best rooms were the ones with 4 bunks and a bathroom, but I booked all of those so some people had to stay in double beds.  The double beds were only $45 a person per night.

I only stayed with the group for one night because one night we used a Ritz-Carlton free night certificate.  This was one of three that came as a sign up bonus for the Ritz credit card.  The hotel was nice, but I wouldn’t spend $350 for a hotel.


We were planning to have a dinner together, but it was beyond our budget.  So instead some of us went to Halal Guys were you can get a tasty platter for $8.  Another meal I had in Chinatown was $5.50, so cheap meals are doable.


Everyone did their own things, but here are some recommendations for the budget-friendly traveler.  Get food and take it to Central Park.  The park is enormous and you can have a lovely view of the city.  The public library is a good free stop especially since you don’t have to worry about the ghosts there anymore.  Museums can be expensive, yet they are very fair and  some allow you to pay what you wish.  The student price to enter the American Museum of Natural History is $17.  At that price I would have surely skipped it.  However, with the option to pay less I paid $5 and it was great to see everything.  I think it is a win for the museum as well because otherwise they wouldn’t have received any money from me.  If you are going to be stopped from going to a museum due to the price, check if they have a pay as you wish option.


I highly recommend the subway.  Definitely not because of the smell or the temperature because those are terrible, but the price.  A ride costs $2.75 within the system, whereas there was a time when I checked Uber during rain and it was $55.  New York City is very big and the subway is the best way to get places and can often be faster than going by car.


For a weekend trip it was possible to escape for under $200.  That is pretty amazing, but it will probably cost you more depending on where you live and what you enjoy doing.  If you are a foodie like my wife, meals can cost over $30 per person, so just like everything else, it’s up to you.  Using points you could definitely do better, so keep saving and I’m sure you’ll come up with some cool things to do.

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