If you’ve been following me for a bit, you might know that I just took my weeklong vacation/birthday trip to NYC! I had an amazing time and I even met one of my 2015 Money Goals while I was there – paying for the entire trip in cash! No credit cards allowed! I kept my Facebook loaded with daily pictures of my activities (sorry, it’s not linked to this blog) and I’m excited to share the financial details with all of you! Let’s dig in, shall we?
I’m going to highlight the costs for certain aspects of my trip as a whole – accommodations, food, theatre, souvenirs, etc. – and give you all some tips on how I didn’t drain my entire savings account. List runs from lowest expense to highest expense. My primary goal this trip was to cover friends, theatre, museum, and food! I think I accomplished that! 😉
Accommodations: FREE! – I’m lucky to crash with friends whenever I visit the city. Now I know this isn’t an option for everyone, but it certainly gives me the most bang for my buck when I go to NYC. I know some of my friends have had EXCELLENT luck using Airbnb when they are staying for a week or longer. I’d almost rather stay out of the hustle and bustle of the touristy areas, but some people aren’t so sure! You might not have room service or housekeeping at your whims, but I think it’s better on the wallet. I was staying in Washington Heights and had great access (thanks to public transit!) to everything I wanted to do while I was in the city.
Non-Theatre Entertainment: FREE! – There’s so much to see in NYC that’s free to just look at. I couldn’t even begin to list everything. So much of what we did was free! DID YOU KNOW that Jimmy Fallon tickets are free? You just have to be online to reserve them about a month in advance. They also go really quickly, but my friends and I got some rehearsal tickets and had a blast in the NBC Studio and seeing Jimmy Fallon for the whopping price of $0! Peruse the big stores – all of the stores in Times Square, Uniqlo, FAO Schwartz, Toys ‘R Us, inside Rockefeller Center, and so on – that’s free and you can take some outstanding pictures to bring home! Great people watching also! You can also check out the big hotels – Hello there, Plaza & Waldorf Astoria! It’s free to check out the buildings and lobbies most of the time! Head on over to Grand Central Station too! It’s free to explore in there and you can even get some food! On this note, every museum we went to was free for me to visit (thanks to my professional affiliations) and that is reflected here.
Random Items: $17.47 – This was for a random trip to Duane Reade. I needed drugs/toiletries – minor packing error on my part. Whoops.
Transit: $37.00 – That was for unlimited rides on the MTA during a 7 day period. The actual pass was $32, but I had to add an extra $5 because my pass had expired one day before I left. Public transit is your friend in NYC. The trains are mostly reliable (in my experience, at least) and taxis ADD UP FAST. NYC also has Uber, which my friends chose to utilize for one of our excursions. They told me the price was pretty fair. I don’t know, this wasn’t something they allowed me to pay for.
Souvenirs: $111.98 – I really wasn’t going to NYC to collect ‘stuff.’ I did buy a few small things to bring home for myself – journal, stuff from Crabtree & Evelyn, posters, and some awesome spices from a street fair. I also got something for my nephew and one of my co-workers who has never been to the city before. A GREAT TRIP TO NYC DOES NOT REQUIRE A LOT OF SOUVENIRS. Repeat that to yourself. Seriously. Use that camera! Nonetheless, this was not a huge spending highlight for this trip. My priorities were elsewhere. Also, I’m not keen on lugging 1000 pounds in my suitcase on the way home.
Airfare: $241.20 – This was the cheapest flight I could find on the day I purchased. My friend and I stalked prices for a couple of weeks and then I just decided to buy because I didn’t notice a huge price shift; there was maybe a $5 difference from one week to the next. Shoutout to Southwest for having the lowest fare of all the major carriers here. Even though their planes sometimes get a little cramped, the cost has always been worth it. Also, free checked bags (within specifications, obviously)?! PLEASE and THANKS!
Food: $381.84 – Yep, the second biggest investment of my trip here. I know there are times when we certainly could have eaten cheaper food, but we chose to enjoy everything and go to a lot of places that were new to us. Some of my favorite spots included Cafe Luxembourg (we saw famous people there), Le Train Bleu (in Bloomingdale’s), Butter Lane Cupcakes (sugar hiiiiiiiiiiigh), and Bocco di Bacco for the most amazing Italian food I’ve ever had. That also included a few coffee breaks and gelato, because…gelato.
Theatre Tickets: $398.58 – This is my favorite area to talk about when it comes to getting deals! This was my total for SEVEN shows. Divide that cash total by seven and that means I was averaging $56.94 per show and none of my tickets were ever for bad (nosebleed) seats – almost always orchestra or front row balcony. We saw A LOT of the big shows that are up for Tony Awards (which was a goal for me) and I’m really pleased with our show choices. We even witnessed a live marriage proposal at the end of the very first show we saw! Some of my friends are very curious about how I managed to snag 7 shows for this overall price. Let me share some of my tricks of the trade:
- If you know of specific shows you want to see ahead of time, search for a coupon code. We started with Google searches for simply “[Show Name] coupon code.” That works almost every time. That garnered us 40-60% off some shows.
- Make a list of shows: Must-see shows, Maybe-see shows, and No Way shows. That will help you prioritize your time and make sure you actually get to shows you are interested in seeing.
- Be willing to go on a weeknight or Wednesday matinee! There’s usually better availability and tickets are cheaper.
- In that same vein, if you are looking to see a certain performer, follow them on Twitter or Facebook to see if they do weekday matinees or Sunday night shows – some big name performers do not. If that means a lot to you, check in advance. Some ticketing websites also list this information.
- My new favorite mobile app: TodayTix. Seriously. This app was my jam. I downloaded the app a couple of weeks before my trip to start checking prices for some of the other shows I was interested in. I noticed that they had a referral option where you share your link and if someone buys a ticket through your link, they get $20 off and you get a $20 credit. I started tweeting my link shortly thereafter and by the time I arrived in NYC, I had $300 in referral credits. Yup. That’s right. $300 free for tickets. I couldn’t even believe my luck. I would NOT have been able to do this many shows without this happening. Something I really loved about their system is that you can buy tickets a few days in advance! Some options (rush & TKTS, for example) don’t allow you to do that! We bought our tickets for FUN HOME this way since the show was the most expensive on the app. Also, it was HIGH on my list of priority shows since I’d heard so many good things about it. There was even enough left over for me to get ANOTHER ticket on another day! I’m happy to walk anyone through the TodayTix experience more in depth. I had a phenomenal experience with them!
- Rush! Check to see if the show you want to see does a student rush or lottery! That may mean getting up very early to be in a line at 8am, but you could score a great ticket deal! Currently, many Broadway shows are running an “Under 30” rush which is perfect for me! 😉 Most of the time the tickets are under $75 depending on how popular it is!
- TKTS! This is a hotspot in Times Square. I didn’t use them for any shows on this particular trip, but I have in the past. They also have an app to stalk prices and get a better idea of how their system works.
- BE FLEXIBLE! I think this is my most important tip! Be open to seeing more than one show since tickets do sell out! Be willing to see plays and/or musicals – prices can fluctuate between the two! Make that list that I mentioned above so that you can hopefully still see something you are interested in!
Overall, I’m calling this one successful trip!
This brings the grand total for this journey to a whopping $1,188.07 for the entire week with all of my pre-trip purchases included. The best part about all of this? I didn’t even take my credit card on this trip. All I took was my debit card, a handful of cash, and myself! No debts incurred and everything was completely paid for at the time of purchase! Even with a minor setback earlier in the year, I still managed to save enough money to make this trip happen! I don’t think I could have done it any better! 🙂 I’m still reeling from this vacation! I loved so many things!
Now when can I go on vacation again? Whew! I’m ready!
Where should I go next time I’m in NYC? I’m all ears for new places to check out!