Escape to New York With Your Family On A Budget

Escape to New York With Your Family On A Budget

New York City is known for many things, the Statue of Liberty, Times Square, Central Park, Empire State Building, Bronx Zoo, and numerous first-class museums. Not to mention, some of the best pizza, cheesecake, and bagels in the world. It’s also known as one of the most expensive cities to visit. In 2018 New York took the top spot on the list of priciest cities to visit in the United States.

Despite its high-priced reputation, it’s an amazing city and beautiful in the spring. If you’ve always wanted to plan an escape to New York with your family, don’t let sticker shock hold you back from visiting. There are many ways to escape to New York City on a budget.

Escape to New York With Your Family On A Budget


Accommodations are an expense that easily eats up a good chunk of your budget. Many people tend to stick to hotel brands they know because they are uncomfortable with unknown options. However, if you stretch outside of your comfort zone a bit, you can find some really pleasant accommodation options.
  • Airbnb. This option is usually cheaper than many hotel chains, especially if you’re willing to stay off the beaten track and use public transportation. Be sure to check the host’s ratings and read customer reviews before reserving. Here are some Airbnb strategies to try to bring down costs.
  • Hotwire. This booking website enables travelers to score cheap deals through its “Hot Rate” promotions, but the big drawback is your hotel is a mystery until after you’re committed.
  • Priceline. This website was once famous for it’s “Name Your Own Price” deals for flights, cars, and hotels. Currently, you can only enter a bid for hotels, the company discontinued this feature for everything else. Additionally, Priceline offers “Express Deals” which work a lot like Hotwire’s “mystery” option.

Using sites like Hotwire and Priceline can be a little risky because of the unknown factor. However, if you do your research and narrow down some favored (even high-end!) options, and explore by neighborhood and amenities, you can often figure out which hotels you’re likely to receive if you take the deal. It’s not failproof, but if you’re willing to be a little adventurous, you could save a lot of money. Other price-reducing options include using hotel points or credit card rewards and put these towards your NYC stay.

Escape to New York With Your Family On A Budget


Getting to New York is a large expense. Fortunately, being New York has 3 major airports, it can be easier to score discounted flights if you’re willing to fly at non-peak dates or at less convenient times of the day.
  • Use sites such as Airfarewatchdog and Skyscanner to monitor prices.
  • Follow major airlines on Twitter and watch for flash sales.
  • Search prices incognito because some airlines and booking websites raise flight prices in hopes of convincing customers to buy sooner because prices are rising.
  • If you are tied into a specific date, book earlier than later because it’s harder to snag a cheap flight if you don’t have flexibility with dates.
  • Sign up for travel reward credit cards.
  • It's sometimes cheaper to book departure and return flights separately as opposed to round trip. Your price options open up because you can book different airlines each way.

Once you’re in the city, it can get expensive taking taxis from attraction to attraction. Renting a car isn’t feasible due to the cost of a rental and the exorbitant parking fees, you’re definitely better off taking mass transit or using rideshare services.
  • Subways. Look into the various types of farecards that can save you a pretty penny.
  • Buses. Many subway passes are good for buses too.
  • Uber and Lyft apps. These rideshare options are a good alternative to taxis. If you’re a first-time customer you can usually get some money off your first ride when you download the app. Even seasoned users can often find discount ride codes on different travel sites.

New York is definitely a walkable city in certain areas or neighborhoods, but if you want to really experience the city and see as many attractions as you can, you’ll need some level of transportation.

Escape to New York With Your Family On A Budget


If you head into your neighborhood chain restaurant, you can easily expect to pay upwards of $20 for a burger. Besides, you’re in NYC, one of the most diverse cities in the U.S., it’s the perfect chance to try something unique.
  • Look for lists of cheap NYC eats for specific food options or recommended NYC budget-friendly dining.
  • Explore food trucks parked throughout the city.
  • Use Groupon, ChowHound, or other apps to search for deals or to compare prices.

If New York is anything, it’s well-rounded on flavor. As soon as you set foot out on the street, the scents can be tantalizing.

Escape to New York With Your Family On A Budget


One great thing about the Big Apple is since there are numerous things to see and do, it’s easy to find attractions and landmarks that are affordable to experience.
  • Focus on “free”. It doesn’t cost a cent to view the Statue of Liberty (from afar), marvel at everything that makes up Times Square, take a stroll through Central Park as spring blooms begin to emerge, or hop the Staten Island Ferry to get a great view of the Manhattan skyline. You can also take a free walking tour, explore free entertainment options, or visit a museum where pay-as-you-wish donations are accepted in lieu of entry fees. Additionally, many attractions offer a limited number of free hours or days each week.
  • See a show. Broadway is known for its notoriously expensive tickets. But there are other options. You can often snag last-minute deals explore off-Broadway options.
  • Tourist passes. Members of various organizations often offer discounts (i.e. military, GovX, AAA, Costco, Sam’s Club, and BJs, to name a few). See if there are discounted passes available if you qualify. Even if you don’t qualify, don’t fret, there are still many other deals to be found.
  • Enjoy the fresh air. Take a walk across the Brooklyn Bridge, visit the Bronx Zoo (Wednesdays are free!), enjoy a festival, or simply explore New York’s diverse neighborhoods and architecture.

Summer is a particularly good month to focus on free or inexpensive outdoor options with a little research and leg work, experiencing New York on a budget is completely doable.

This is a contribution from one of our contributing writers.


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