New York on a Budget: How We Did It

by Erika Torres

Well, Eric and I went to New York almost two months ago and I never got a chance to blog about it.

Taking a trip to New York was on our goals list for this year, but I really didn’t think that we’d be able to go until at least the end of the year. As luck would have it, Eric had six days off from work the same week that I had a week off from school. Let’s take advantage, we said!

Every month, we save $500 from the side hustle and put it toward a vacation fund. This gave us about $2000 to play with for our trip.

The Budget: $2000

The Flights: $10 

For two years, Eric and I have been saving up our JetBlue points with an American Express card to save enough points for our trip. This meant that we only paid $10 for our flights, total.

The Hotel: $830

Hotels in New York are EXPENSIVE. Not only is it just expensive in general, but with taxes and fees, you should pretty much add a 25% premium to the price quoted on the site. Our usual Priceline wasn’t taking any of our bids–even our top offer of $200 a night. Everywhere else I checked, I couldn’t get a hotel for any less than $1400 for five nights. No, thank you.

Thanks to a fellow blogger, I heard about The New York 50, a site for cheap hotels in New York. That’s how I found the Larchmont Hotel. I was initially hesitant over the European style hotel–you have shared bathrooms–but I honestly really enjoyed the hotel.

For the price, we got a queen-sized room on the top floor in the ultra hip West Village with a direct view of the new WTC and only a couple of blocks from Carrie’s doorstep (as in Sex and the City Carrie)!

My take when it comes to budget hotels? Don’t expect much and you’ll be pleasantly surprised. We went in knowing we were staying at a budget hotel and expecting the worst, but we actually were quite happy with it.

Transportation: $100

Besides one taxi ride when we had our luggage and it was after a red-eye flight, Eric and I relied on the subway. We even took the subway from the airport. The subway people offer a $30 seven-day pass with unlimited rides. I, of course, lost my card on the second day. I was SO pissed at myself. SO I ended up having to buy another one.

Food and entertainment: $1560

This is where Eric and I went crazy. We are huge foodies gluttons, so we didn’t want to deny ourselves any food. We tried to have breakfast at the hotel, but it was only pastries and coffee. For lunch, we had a different street vendor every day. New York street food is SO good. I especially  loved the Halel food. We also wine and dined with friends that we visited. Entertainment included front row, center seats at Chicago.

Total Cost: $2500

Our Philosophy on Vacation

In the end, we went $500 over budget. But it is was all paid for in cash and we had a blast.

While we definitely find ways to save on our vacation (ie, cheaper accommodations, saving up for flights, finding good deals), we also don’t want to forget the reason we’re on vacation–to have a good time. As long as we have the cash to pay for it, we’re good to go.

I think Eric takes some amazing instagram photos. This is one he took in Central Park.

On the third day, Eric made me walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. We had been walking all day and this was absolute torture, I was really pissed.  I couldn’t get enough of New York in the spring! I loved the cherry blossoms and the tulips on every corner.

I was obsessed with going to Serendipty’s since I had seen the movie in my teens. Everyone told us to allow at least an hour wait, but we went on a weekday afternoon and it was practically empty! We sat right down and ordered dessert–it was delicious! I was surprised by how feakin’ small the place was.

Also on my to-do list was a carriage ride in Central Park! I can now cross that off the baby bucket list! Eric was actually super sweet about it and bought wine for us beforehand. And when I didn’t want a certain carriage (it was dinky looking), he waited patiently until we got the one I wanted.


As much as we enjoyed going on vacation, it was also so nice to come home. The morning after we got back, Bentley jumped up on the bed and snuggled right in the middle of me and Eric. I guess that was his way of saying “I’m so glad you’re home.”


How We Save for Travel - Newlyweds on a Budget November 10, 2014 - 4:30 am

[…] We signed up for the JetBlue card (not an affiliate link) with the specific purpose that we would save up enough points to book free airfare to New York–it took us almost two years, but we did it! Paying $10 for our flights to New York. […]

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Catherine July 2, 2013 - 5:13 pm

I LOVE NYC. I also love your honesty : He made me walk across the bridge and I was pissed”…haha. I can’t wait to go back!!

Michelle June 29, 2013 - 10:15 pm

New York is expensive! I’m taking my mom for Labor Day weekend. It’s all cash and we’re staying in a quirky hotel. Glad you had a great time!

Alexis Marlons June 29, 2013 - 7:09 am

Looks like you did have a lot of fun guys. And spending $2500 isn’t that bad anymore since New York is really an expensive city.

jobo June 25, 2013 - 11:26 am

Oh so fun!! looks like you guys had a blast! I am still so sad we basically were in each other’s neighborhoods at the same time! figures 😉 I’d love to go to NYC and be more of a tourist, anytime I am there it is for work, or for a quick trip, like a wedding or something!

Teacher Girl June 25, 2013 - 7:12 am

Aw! This looks like such a fun trip! I am glad you guys got to enjoy one of my favorite cities (and birthplace).

Budget & the Beach June 21, 2013 - 2:15 pm

Glad you had a good time. So does anyone LIVE at the Carrie residence because I see it was roped off? Yeah NY can be crazy expensive with the food and entertainment, so glad you budgeted for most of it. One of the cool things we experienced was winning lottery tickets to two major broadway shows (BOM, and Newsies) and they were $25 (front row center) and $35 a piece. Awesome!

Cat Alford (@BudgetBlonde) June 20, 2013 - 11:45 am

Looks like sooooo much fun!!! So glad you had a great time!

Jessica June 20, 2013 - 10:23 am

Glad you enjoyed NYC. I am so tired of it here LOL maybe I was one of those native NYer’s you bumped into and I gave you the mean eye cuz that’s totally me–working on 5th ave I see so many tourists it makes me want to visit all the touristy spots again and then I think of the wait..the train… the people and I’m like nope going straight home LOL just kidding love that you had fun! hopefully our cold spring/winter didnt scare you!

sanibel June 20, 2013 - 4:00 am

Looks like fun! Glad you were able to cross that trip off your list. That is still one of the places I need to get to!

JW_Umbrella Treasury June 19, 2013 - 3:52 pm

Sounds like a lovely trip! I’ve lived outside NYC for almost four years, and I still haven’t been to Serendipity! And I think it makes sense to put most of your travel budget towards food and entertainment while visiting any city. That’s how you can truly experience a place, right? I generally like to spend freely on food and entertainment, and skimp on the hotel, since we won’t be spending a lot of time in our hotel room, anyway.

Glad you had a good time!

Megan June 19, 2013 - 3:00 pm

Looks like a fabulous trip! So so fun! And yay for checking things off of your list!

Tanner June 19, 2013 - 1:47 pm

Ok, totally jealous on the airfare front. Many congrats if you managed to figure out the NY train system! It was awful when me and my half-brother were there. I blame it on him, but I think it took us both my surprise. And as always, I agree. Having fun within limits and in moderation should never be postponed while in debt. You could’ve easily spent up in the 6k’s if you wanted (probably higher), but you were only 500 over, so great job.

Erin @ His & Hers June 19, 2013 - 1:25 pm

I’d say you guys did well–NYC is EXPENSIVE!! Serendipity is amazingly small. And that photo of you being annoyed from walking is definitely one for the scrapbooks. 😉 Glad you had a good time!

CeCe @Frugalista Married June 19, 2013 - 8:17 am

I am definitely going to keep that hotel website in mind because we are definitely wanting to plan a trip to NYC. I’d be pretty nervous about the shared bathroom concept. Not sure I would have done it but it’s interesting to hear that it wasn’t so bad. Maybe I’d consider it. Glad you had a great time and even on a budget.

Savvy Financial Latina June 19, 2013 - 7:25 am

I haven’t been to NY but it is definitely on my bucket list. I always find ways to have budget friendly vacations. I don’t feel as bad for spending so much money.

Meg @ Mr.C & Me June 19, 2013 - 6:38 am

What a fun trip! Love the pricing breakdown – shows that a trip like this is totally doable if you’re smart, save, and look for the deals.

My family saw Chicago on Broadway too and loved it (one of my favorite musicals for sure!).

Michelle June 19, 2013 - 6:24 am

Looks like fun! We’ve been wanting to go to NYC, and you are right – the hotels are crazy high.

Jana @ Happy Wife Healthy Life June 19, 2013 - 6:20 am

Love your blog and your budget travel tips girl! My family went to New York about five years ago now and we definitely enjoyed! Serendipity frozen hot chocolate with my mom was one if my best memories from the trip! 🙂


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