Tips And Tricks On Traveling Around New York On A Dime

By: Gina

While it's certainly true that New York City is one of the most expensive places to live in the world, that doesn't necessarily mean you can't visit and explore the Big Apple on a smaller budget. In this new piece, I'm not only going to explain how someone can make the most out of their trip to one of the most exciting cities in America. I'm going to show you how you can do so on a modest budget that still allows you to create the type of experience you won't soon forget.

Lincoln Center, Manhattan | Photo by  Jason Gonzalez , Dress by  Black Halo , Purse by  Angela Roi

Lincoln Center, Manhattan | Photo by Jason Gonzalez, Dress by Black Halo, Purse by Angela Roi

Understand What You're Getting Into

Although New York City may seem fairly small, there's a lot of territory to cover if you plan on visiting several landmarks in a short amount of time. Based on that, what you'll want to do is plan where you want to visit before you pack your bags.

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Many of the landmarks throughout New York City are spread across the boroughs, so you'll need to consider that before you jump in a cab and bark directions to the driver. For example, if you plan on visiting the World Trade Center Memorial, you will need to schedule that experience closely before you head uptown to Times Square or 30 Rock. Doing so will not only save you time, but it will save you money because you're not commuting back to an area you were just in.

One World Trade Center | Photo by Sarah Funk

One World Trade Center | Photo by Sarah Funk

Know the Neighborhoods

Once you begin looking at where you want to visit, you'll notice that each borough has its own unique offerings that cannot be missed. For example, Brooklyn has several unique spots and fun shops to check out during your stay. You might even discover that Prospect Park is almost as (if not more) exciting than Central Park. Heck, even the bridges (Brooklyn, Williamsburg, etc.) can give you breathtaking views of the city that the Empire State Building can't offer.

The view of Manhattan from DUMBO, Brooklyn. Photo by Sarah Funk

The view of Manhattan from DUMBO, Brooklyn. Photo by Sarah Funk

So in order to get the most out of your stay and visit the many boroughs that New York City has to offer, you'll want to understand the subway system. The subway may seem daunting, but once you get the hang of it you won't even flinch when a dance crew infiltrates your subway car for an impromptu break dance party. You can also download the subway schedule app right on your smartphone, thus allowing you to make sense of how to best use it to your advantage.

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It's All About the Seasons

You'll also need to understand that New York City is different every season. A visit in the spring is going to serve up different results than a visit in the winter, and vice versa. In December, you'll want to visit the Christmas Tree in Rockefeller Plaza and in July you'll want to be near the Hudson Piers to watch the Independence Day display that launches a set of fireworks for every borough. These are not only specific to New York, but specific to the time of year - so consider some of these attractions more time-sensitive than others.

However, you'll also need to understand that you and millions of other tourists (and New York City residents) want to witness the same attractions as you do. If you're looking to strictly visit attractions such as Times Square or the Empire State Building (i.e. places that offer experiences year round), your best bet is to visit during the slower months. This means planning a visit during January through March. These are not only the slower months in the fast-paced city, but they also happen to be the cheapest times to visit.

Renting a Car 

If you're going to be renting a car and driving in New York, be sure to brush up on all of your driving best practices and follow traffic lights. Take things slowly - you've probably never encountered as many drivers in one spot at the same time as you will in New York, so whatever you do, don't rush.

Understand that street numbers ascend as they move northward, and avenues run from south to north. In other words, even if you miss your turn, don't panic - there's another opportunity in a block or two.

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Saving Money in New York City

Once you've figured out what you want to visit and when you can then get started looking for new opportunities to save as much money as possible. I have a whole article on this. Read it here.

Thankfully, this is likely a lot easier than you thought it was going to be - you just need to keep a few key things in mind.

  • Taking a water taxi to get a glimpse of the Statue of Liberty can be pretty costly, so if you're looking to get a fantastic view of the structure you should try the Staten Island Ferry. Not only you'll see the Statue of Liberty, but you can do so for absolutely free!

  • Citi Bikes have made a huge impact on how New Yorkers travel around the city, with most boroughs having pickup and drop off stations peppered throughout the city. All you need is a credit card and this eco-friendly method of transportation will be available to you.

  • If you're visiting in the summer, Bryant Park offers free events regularly. Whether it be a band or a free screening of a film, you'll have no problem finding something that will pique your interest.

Based on all of the above, it should now be easy to see why New York City is such an amazing place to visit - and why it's so important to spend your time wisely. You could spend a week in the Big Apple and still not see everything it has to offer, so pick the spots that are important to you and plan your trip accordingly.

No matter, what, one thing is for sure: whether you're visiting historical landmarks, watching live television tapings, or simply shopping and seeing what the city has to offer, your New York City trip will be an experience of a lifetime.


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