My boo. My bae. My baby girl. My hun. My fourth true love in life (I guess is I have to include Chris and the cats first…). My New York.
She’s a dreamboat, huh? But she’s also pricey af. Like hello does a girl have to sell a kidney over here just to get a week in the basic bitch motherland, orrrr?
I’m going to take a wild guess and say that 92% of you spend your days just imagining you’re actually drinking rooftop cocktails in Manhattan, rather than y’know, doing work. Because I absolutely do.
And with that in mind, I thought I’d compile my top tips for attempting to keep the cost down, so that a trip to New York can be an actual reality and not some distant dream saved only for the babes you follow on Instagram.
1. Book your flights in advance and be flexible. Sounds obvious, huh? I could not recommend the British Airways January sale enough (even though lol ok, that’s six months away). I found mine and Chris’s flights for our trip in May for £370 return each, but there were flights as low as £320 if we’d gone in March.
Tuesdays and Wednesdays tend to be the cheapest days to fly on, whilst spring is the best time of year. It gets freakishly expensive in July and August (um hello why would I want to visit a city in 35 degree heat, huh?), whilst Christmas time is also pretty pricey.
2. Accomodation, as with most major cities, can be a major Debbie downer on your bank account. Last time we visited NYC we stayed at Yotel and I couldn’t recommend it enough. The location was dreamy – close to Times Square and all the subway routes, but just outside enough that you didn’t feel overwhelmed by it.
It has super modern rooms, super fast wifi, THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC CHANNEL AND MTV, free coffee and muffins, a rooftop bar, and – if you book into a superior Queen room, which tbh is sometimes the same price as a standard Queen room – insane bedroom views out over midtown Manhattan. Oh and prices start from about £100 a night if you travel out of season.
3. If you’re keen to do all the classic tourist attractions like the Empire State Building, 9/11 Memorial & Museum and Liberty Island then I’d absolutely snap up a CityPass online before you go. There’s two different options depending on how many places you plan on hitting up, but it means you’ll have tickets to all the attractions in one booklet that’ll save you a LOT of dollars. Maybe even enough dollars to take a teeny tiny peek inside the Kate Spade store…
4. Another massive saving ticket thingy worth investing in is the hunk that is the Metro card. I think a seven-day pass (or you can get a 3-day one if you’re only visiting for a few days) is about £20, and unlike London, there’s no zones, so that one pass will literally get you anywhere on the map – EVEN Coney Island.
It’s super useful because a) it means you won’t splash out on cabs and b) it means if you fly in and out of JFK airport, you’re sorted for transport which is an absolute dream considering Manhattan to JFK cabs will normally set you back about $70 each way.
5. EAT PIZZA. Like, all the pizza. New York pizza is freakishly cheap and Chris and I always use it as a fall back meal when lol we’ve spent too much money on iced coffee and tacky tourist sweatshirts.
You can normally grab a slice as big as your face that’ll 102% satisfy you for lunch for about $3, whilst an entire pie, which is enough to feed about four (and always best eaten from your hotel bed) will set you back about $15. Cheapest and tastiest meal ever. And there’s pizza joints literally on every street corner, so you’re never far from a slob of cheesy pepperoni heaven.
6. The exchange rate at the moment is a bit, ahem, hideous and so it’s never been more vital that you get a good deal. When we went earlier this year we panic withdrew $500 the month before because it looked like the pound was going to continue to plummet ahead of the EU referendum (it didn’t, it kinda just stayed the same), and then we exchanged the rest via a Revolut card.
Which, is basically a card (and an app) which you can use abroad and every time you make a payment it’ll instantly exchange your money for that transaction in the best available rate. It seems tiny but it meant that whereas we could only find $1.39 for every £1 before we left, we were actually getting maybe $1.42 using our card – sounds tiny, but it all adds up.
7. Cocktails in New York is obviously the dream life goals, but heeeeeeey they not cheap. Obviously keep your eyes peeled for happy hours, but also utilise the little fridges hanging out in most hotel rooms by stocking them with your own booze.
Because let’s face it, you can’t beat a cold can of something sexy whilst you’re trying to nail your contour can you? I highly recommend Redd’s Apple Ale or one of Bud Light’s beer margaritas. You can get Mang-O-Rita, Straw-Ber-Rita, Water-Melon-Rita, the list goes on. They taste like sick and also the best thing ever.
8. There are SO many free things to do in New York, that it’s impossible to be bored because ha, no money. I kept a list on my phone so we always had a good list of fallback activities at hand. Some of my faves include walking Brooklyn Bridge, exploring flea markets, strolling through Central Park, taking in the view from the High Line and going to Coney Island. But it’s well worth a Google before you go to see what else is going on.
9. Aside from regularly chowing down on pizza, my top cheap food tip is to, well, avoid the fancy places. New York is big enough and sassy enough to have so many delicious low-cost food options, that you don’t need to go to the posh, pricey ones unless you really want to.
Some of my fave hip and happening places for a meal less than $15 include Macbar, Shake Shack and Meatball Shop.
Do you have any other super money saving tips so that I can go back again now plzzzzz?