A Week in NYC for Cheap

New York City is known for being expensive. And with good reason. But I spent a week in NYC and despite a $100 afternoon tea experience, I didn’t top my $1000 budget including the plane ticket. I could have done it for even cheaper. I’ll be giving a detailed budget in a post but here are my top 5 tips for a week in NYC for cheap.

1. Stay in a hostel. 

It’s pretty much your only option if you want to have any kind of budget for this city. There are a few options but International Student Center, where I stayed, is a stand out. I wound up paying around $35 a night for booking slightly out of season (April) and ahead. Sometimes hostels have age restrictions, and this one does – only for under 35s. However, there will definitely be options that don’t have this restriction, check HostelWorld.

2. Use the Metro at All Times

Your average cab ride is going to cost you at least $20 with tip. I only used them twice and I wouldn’t recommend the subway after 9PM. So make sure you have the budget for a ride in an emergency/for safety but in all other cases the subway is the way to go. If you are planning to ride more than 12 times in the week you will save money. This will most likely happen.

3. Student Tickets are Everything – Also “Free” hours

empty met with statues

The empty MET – this is what getting there at opening and bee-lining for anything without people gets you!

If you look young, they won’t check unless it’s a small museum. The MET didn’t care, the Morgan Library (most underrated museum in NYC imo) did. Always save your student cards from school!  Most museums will also have times where entry is free or you can pay what you want. If you don’t have a student ID then this is your best bet. You might ask – but isn’t it better to go to these “free” openings even if you’re a student? Frankly I think the $12 student tickets are a reasonable entry for these museums – and it’s worth it to beat the rush to exhibits and get an hour or so of solo enjoyment. You can still have your week in NYC for cheap without cheaping out on tickets 🙂

4. Actually “planning” your trip

You should check out my posts on creating an itinerary. This will save you from impulse purchases a lot of the time. It doesn’t mean some of those impulses aren’t worth it, but it tends to make you think twice. An addendum to this is packing light. If you pack light you’re limited in what you can stuff into your luggage and you’ll be less tempted. This also leads well into number 5…

5. Postcards and pictures really are the best souvenirs

Now, if you have an agenda to buy a Chanel purse in NYC – go for it. But you weren’t on a budget anyways. Postcards often cost around $2-3 and are great memories. I personally picked two up in the Tale of Genji exhibit in the MET and then wrote myself nice messages about my day while sipping tea. They are small, you won’t feel forced to hold onto some big object. They’re great gifts to friends along with some fancy chocolate. And because you wrote to yourself in those moments, on the back of an image with some kind of meaning to you, it somehow becomes much more special than the skirt or knickknack.

Tea at Ladurée with a blue and white china cup and 3 macarons of various colors and a silver teapot

Tea at Ladurée where I wrote the majority of one of my postcards

I bought myself a wooden postcard in Scotland and even though I bought much more expensive things that I also love, the postcard honestly takes the cake. Because I remember exactly where I was sitting, what was happening, and what I was feeling all in that moment. They also all look really cool hung on a wall or some kind of decorative clothsline.

This wasn’t the post I had meant to go out today but the other one was taking longer. So take this as a tease of more to come! I hope A Week in NYC for Cheap is helpful to you all 🙂

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