5 Tricks to Save Money on Your New York City Adventure
New York is not the first destination that anyone would consider cheap. Still it is possible to make your NYC adventure affordable for a limited budget. The Big Apple is expensive in general – higher costs of accommodation and food are hard to avoid. However, as a touristic city, it is full of catches that make unaware visitors to spend much more money on attractions. If you do not want to be deceived and throw your money down the drain, stay with me :)
Trick no.1 – Recommended fee for admission to museums
I am not a big fan of museums and they are not the first thing I go to when I explore new cities. New York was an exception in this case. The city has plenty of cool museums and if you happen to visit the Big Apple you have to visit some of them. They are huge and filled with exceptional pieces of art.
However, museums employ a canny trick to make tourists spend more money. They dictate a price for entrance that amounts to about $20 something. In my opinion, it is a good value for money (even underestimated) if you want to explore whole museum within one day, which is clearly impossible. The number of exhibitions and pieces of art is overwhelming and even if you try to go around quickly, still you may lack time to visit every corner.
What’s the solution? You can pay a donation of any value you think is reasonable for you. You do not have to pay the suggested donation. The only catch is that you cannot buy a ticket at your own price at vending machines and you have to wait in line to ticket counter. It does not take long, though. Although, a queue might sometimes seem long, it goes forward fast.
Trick no.2 – Staten Island ferry to see the Statue of Liberty
This trick does not concern you if you want to take a trip to Liberty Island and take off there to admire the statue from a short distance. There are loads of tour operators that offer distinct kinds of ‘Liberty tours’, including going to the island or just a cruise around it. They also differ regarding time of trip and price. Naturally, such package tours include also guide’s support, so you’d get the chance to learn some interesting facts and history of the statue.
However, if you just prefer to take a closer look at the island and take some shots I recommend another option that is totally free ;). Staten Island, a territory that formally belongs to the state of New York, is about 30 minutes away from Manhattan (by ferry). As there are lots of inhabitants who live on the island and work on Manhattan, the ferry that commutes between these locations is free. It leaves every 30 minutes and passes by Liberty Island, coming close to it.
Thus, if you do not want to blow your money on a tour, you can just take a free ferry and enjoy the view on the Statue of Liberty. Extra tip: when you get off on Staten Island run to the entrance to take the same ferry, unless you do not want to wait 30 minutes for another one. I managed to do it, so can you:)
Trick no.3 – Save on Subway
Public communication in NYC is not cheap and you cannot really save much when you commute a lot. They charge on a every ride $2.75 whether you take only one stop or go through whole Manhattan. There are also 7- and 30-day passes that are worth considering when you stay for longer time, but they are also a bit pricey. In any other case, I recommend you to but a Metro Card ($1), which can be refilled at Vending Machines. Then you’d pay per ride everytime you cross a gate. What’s more, every time you put more money on your card it gives you 10% bonus.
What is my advice at this point? Distances between sights in NYC are long. However, on your way there are still nice things to see that you wouldn’t want to miss when riding underground. Plan your tour in way that you do not have to take to many rides on subway. On each day go to another part of the city and walk around. During my stay in the USA a would make up to 20 kilometers per day and it was worth it as best things that happened to me where ‘on my way’.
Trick no.4 – Buy NYC pass
Thinking about visiting multiple attractions in the city? Consider buying one of the NYC passes that are available on the Internet. You’ve got three options:
1. New York Pass lets you enter up to 80 attractions in NYC within 1, 2, 3, 5, 7 or 10 days. The price ranges from $90 to $328 depending on the number of days you choose and Hop-on Hop-off Bus option. It is a solution for heavy sightseeing. If you are really sure that you’d visit most of those places, this option is for you.
2. New York City Pass is an option for less busy sightseers. It lets you visit 6 most popular attractions within 9 days. You get Empire State Building, American Museum of Natural History, the MET, Top of the Rock in the Rockefeller Center (or Guggenheim Museum instead), Statue of Liberty (or Circle line sightseeing cruises instead) and 9/11 Memorial and Museum (or Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum instead). The price is $114 and you’re supposed to ‘save’ $81.
Where is the catch? The price includes the suggested donation in the American Museum of Natural History and the MET, which altogether totals nearly $50 and as I mentioned in the first point, you can pay whatever you want in these museums. What is more, 9/11 Memorial is also free, you pay only for the 9/11 Museum, which I missed as most of my friends recommended me against going there. Thus, you can add another $26 to your ‘not-really-savings’. When it comes to Statue of Liberty, I’ve already explained how to hack it in the 2rd point, so it is another $18.
You can do the math and see if it pays off for you. In my case, there was no point at buying it as I wouldn’t have saved anything (or even spend more).
3. Smart destinations is the smartest option that lets you pick 2 or more attractions from the 69 most popular ones. In the case of 2 or 3 you save 20%, when you buy more – 25%. Easy, right? I went for this option, buying Empire State Building, Top of the Rock in the Rockefeller Center and Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum instead. You can of course decide on whatever you want and save some money for real.
Trick no.5 – Don’t eat and shop in touristy places
I know this one is pretty obvious, but I want to emphasize this. All the places like Times Square are brimful with restaurants and shops that want to rip off unaware tourists. What is more, when it comes to the food, you will probably not get an authentic cuisine in these neighborhoods. Do not believe the signboards saying “real Italian pizza” or “real American burgers”, as it might not be something that you would expect.
Before you visit New York, do some research, ask friends where are good places to eat. There are plenty of forums, Facebook groups where locals and people who have visited the city share such information. Look through it!
I hope my tips will be useful, when you visit NYC! Don’t let them trick you and rip you off your money.
If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to write a comment or drop me a message!