Budget Travel: Passage to New York City

The following is a post to from Patrick Mackaronis. Patrick is the Director of Business Development for New York City-based social network Brabble. In this post, Patrick about budget travling in New York City. Patrick can be best reached on Twitter at @patty__mack.

The first, and probably the most important question is: how to get there with a decent deal that is not going to break your heart? If you are based in a place over 2,500 miles from New York, say, San Francisco, what are the choices you have? Of course, you can hitchhike all the way and do something really hip, given you are a die-hard Kerouac-maniac on a beat pilgrimage. Otherwise, this would be way too much hassle for average travelers.

Don’t feel dejected by the geographical fact that some ten states sit between you and one of world’s most exciting cosmopolitans. Your dream holiday à la Sleepless in Seattle is just six hours away at flight level 390. Remember that you can always try booking your flight using miles or award points accumulated from your past excursions. Don’t have enough miles for a round trip? No worries. Even securing a free single trip will significantly lower your total spending. Then, book the other segment on the cheapest flight you can find. Check as many reservation websites and airline websites as you can. A flexible traveling date may also be helpful when you are in for the best deal.

You certainly won’t be disappointed by the amenities on transcontinental flights from SFO/LAX to JFK/LGA/EWR. If you fly United, their specially configured fleet of Boeing 757-200s features three classes of service: First, Business and Economy Plus. The worst you can get on United Premium Service is still better than other domestic flights. Economy Plus offers you extra leg-room and WiFi service. Alternatively, American has its Flagship Service with three-class Boeing 767-200s. Delta transcontinental flights are on two-class Boeing 757-200s with personal TV. For other non-stop flights, JetBlue A320 gives you 36 channels of live satellite TV. Virgin America now provides WiFi on their A320s.


If there’s no way for you to save on flights with awards, New York is still a great budget travel destination where freebies and cheapies abound. Fly in, and start saving then and there.

Megabus and BoltBus are great inexpensive solutions for those located near the Big Apple. They offer a limited number of $1 seats on their stylish buses, with only a $0.50 booking fee. Plus, you get to enjoy free internet access. Simply plug in, and you are ready to check your email on I-95. Keep in mind that you should book as early in advance as you can, for these offers are red hot and they are quietly and quickly sold out.

However, there is no perfect, one-size-fits-all solution for a best itinerary. You should always keep an eye out for deals, research different options and utilize whatever resources available. The beauty of traveling lies partly in these preparations before you actually hit the road.

Find a cheap accommodation in New York

Choosing the right type of place to live in New York City is crucial to keep you financially sound. Crashing with friends or relatives is probably the ultimate saving solution. If you are on your own and you don’t have enough points in your Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) or Hilton HHonors accounts to redeem you free night(s) in fancy hotels in Midtown, still, there are plenty of places to stay for the night.

Though Manhattan is generally expensive to live, many inexpensive hostels are available in Queens and Brooklyn. New Jersey is also comparably inexpensive, but commuting cost may rise.

If you are staying for an extended period and no friend can help you out with lodging, you may consider sharing a room with someone else. You will be able to find roommates online.

In short, carefully research the place, the neighborhood and, if applicable, the people before you move in will help you find a clean and safe little den. You definitely don’t want to throw bedbugs a grand party of warm blood or get into troubles with gangs.

Roam around NYC

New York City, especially Midtown and Uptown Manhattan, is fairly easy to navigate. Refrain from taking cabs, they are expensive and you could get stuck in rush hour traffic, watching hopelessly as the digits on the meter dance.

Instead, use MTA trains and buses to the extreme or just simply walk. MTA sells Metrocard for subways and buses, which replaced tokens. There are different types of cards for commuter with different needs. For short-term visitors, a seven-day pass offers unlimited rides for a week on subways and free transfer between buses and trains. Likewise, a monthly pass would be great for those who stay relatively longer. You can also refill your card with whatever amount of money you wish.

Meet some New Yorkers

There’s nothing you can’t do in this city. In fact, there are a million things to do every day. To maximize your experience in New York, plan ahead. An appointment with free, voluntary but extremely resourceful and knowledgeable local tour guides known as Big Apple Greeter need to be arranged at least three weeks in advance. A tour inside the Federal Reserve Bank also requires early reservation. Get CityPass, which covers six top New York City attractions, before you go. That will give you a huge discount on tickets and get you to the place without waiting in line.

Free official guidebooks are available at visitors’ center located near Times Square on 7th Ave. and 53rd St. You can also get it from a tourists’ information booth in Penn Station or just download it and other maps and guides online.

Search for amazing freebies, including the Staten Island ferry, New York Public Library tour and many more, you will not be disappointed. They are just a few clicks away. Have fun researching!

For travelers who want to blend in with locals, do check out event listings on Time Out and NYCgo.com. There are a few free events every day, and always changing!

Finally, walk around as many neighborhood as you can, get a feel of the diversity, and try street food. They are wonderful bargains that you should not miss out. A chicken over rice feeds you well. Enjoy your cozy lunch on a bench in Union Square with pigeons and squirrels around!