New York On a Budget

I remember one day Emily and I decided we needed to road trip to New York City.  It was one of those things that, while possible, seemed improbable.  We were 19, still somewhat at the mercy of our parents.  How would we ever get them to approve of this?  In the words of Ayn Rand, “The question isn’t, ‘Who is going to let me?’ It’s ‘Who is going to stop me?'”


First thing’s first:  we planned to pay for this trip entirely on our own.  Asking for money would have been a surefire way to get our parents to shoot down our idea.  Plus, in my opinion, there’s something so satisfying about going on a trip you paid for yourself.

We did our research, calculating the cost of driving to New York.  It turned out that flying was cheaper, not to mention faster and more convenient.  So, after telling my mom and having a slight glimmer of approval from her, we booked our tickets.  (Emily is much more rebellious than I am, often telling her parents AFTER she books a trip that she’s going somewhere. 🙂  I aspire to be that ballsy.)  We flew through Spirit, an airline neither of us had even heard of prior to this trip.  We weren’t looking for anything fancy.  We just wanted to get from Point A to Point B quickly and cheaply, so Spirit was a good, no-frills choice.  (I’m not being paid by Spirit airlines…just saying they’re cheap.)

So we had our plane tickets locked in.  We would be flying out of Chicago at an insanely early hour (which is often when flights are cheaper).  Going to school in southern Indiana, we live about six hours away from Chicago.  To avoid the cost of staying in a hotel in Chicago, we decided to just drive overnight from my house.  In a way, we did get a little taste of a road trip this way.  Filled up the gas tank, got some snacks and caffeine, and made our way up a deserted I-57…close enough!

Hotel prices in New York are insane.  We immediately knew we couldn’t stay in one on our limited budget.  So we looked into hostels, as scary as that sounded to me.  We discovered American Dream Hostel (which I think is now called American Dream Bed & Breakfast) in the Flatiron District.  It was a convenient location, affordable, and we didn’t have to share a bedroom with any strangers.  Those were basically our criteria since we couldn’t be too picky.  Also, we stayed there during our spring break on four weeknights, which was cheaper than staying on a weekend.

Again, I’m not being paid to say nice things about this place; I just genuinely enjoyed our stay at American Dream.  Breakfast was included (which makes sense because they’re calling it a bed and breakfast now), the bathrooms and bedrooms were clean, and the workers were nice.  We had a bunk bed in a room with a sink and a TV, and the single-person bathroom was just down the hall.  Upon arrival, we discovered that a cat lived there, which oddly made me feel at ease right off the bat.  I never felt unsafe there or anywhere in New York, something that surprised me over and over throughout the trip.

Getting around the city proved to be fairly simple and inexpensive.  We relied solely on the subway and walking, forgoing any expensive cab rides.  I cannot stress this enough:  WEAR COMFORTABLE SHOES.  My legs were sore at the end of every day because I thought I could handle wearing cute shoes instead of smart ones.  I was so wrong.

These are the main pointers I can give you to save money on your trip to New York, should you decide to go…and you should!  If you’re not picky, want to get out of your comfort zone a little, and don’t mind walking, it’s actually not that expensive, and the low maintenance mindset makes for a great experience.  Having some sketchy stains on your hostel towels is worth it to go to the one and only New York City.

We’ll write about the fun stuff later!  🙂



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