Many budget-conscious travelers would agree with singer James Murphy. In 2013, New York City ranked as the 4th most expensive city in the world for tourists. So should those traveling on the cheap just skip this city altogether? What if I told you that you can spend 7 days in NYC for $100? You’d call me crazy and I’d prove you wrong. Here’s the gameplan:
Prior to Arrival
Sorting out your accommodation
In NY, the cheapest accommodation in a hostel alone can easily cost $50/day. Not good for our $100 budget. However, if you plan well and plan smart, it’s do-able. Couchsurfing is a community of travelers that do hospitality exchange. Meaning, you can request to be hosted for free during your time in NYC. Naturally, it may be a bit hard to find a host in NYC since it’s one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. But if you’re already an avid couchsurfer with plenty of good references, or you have an awesome profile, you stand more of a chance.
Let’s say, hypothetically, you manage to arrange a host for 5 nights. You aren’t sure yet where to stay for the other 2 nights – but you’re just going to wing it. Why not? Life is all about adventures!
Also, there are a few things to know about NYC that will help stretch your budget even further. First, tap water is safe to drink and actually tastes good. Bring your own bottle to avoid paying for bottled water. If you eat in a restaurant, you’re entitled to ask for free glasses of water if you’re not already offered. However, with your tight budget, I don’t suggest restaurants anyway since they require a 15%-20% tip. Grab your food to go and eat in a park. It’s better for people-watching as well.
Day 0 – Sunday (Arrival)
First things first, what to do when you land at John F. Kennedy airport
There are two ways to get to town from the airport using public transportation. One is to take the AirTrain ($5.00) then connect to the subway ($2.50). The other is to take the Q10 Bus ($2.50) then connect to the subway (free transfer). Since we’re roughing it out here, we’re going with the second option.
The Q10 bus originates/terminates at Terminal 5 at JFK airport. If you arrive at any other terminal, catch the free AirTrain to the Terminal 5/6 stop for free. The Q10 Bus will bring you to the Kew Gardens/Union Turnpike subway station where you can catch a free transfer to the E train. Once you’re on the subway, you can basically get anywhere in NYC at no extra charge.
If couchsurfing, arrive in the evening or on the weekend, because chances are your host works during the day on weekdays. Arriving at a convenient time will prevent having to lug your backpack around the city, waiting for your host to get off work.
Day 1 – Monday
Getting around New York City + Exploring Downtown Manhattan
If your accommodation is in Manhattan, and you’re staying strictly around Manhattan, you might get away without paying for transportation. If your host lives in any other boroughs of NYC though (Brooklyn, Bronx, Queens, Staten Island), it will be close to impossible to do without the city’s subway system. A 7-Day Unlimited Ride Metrocardcosts $30.00 (available at all subway stations). I know what you’re thinking. $30?!! That’s huge given our $100 budget. But I promise you, this is the biggest chunk of change you’ll have to shell out while here.
Metrocard now in hand, you’re ready to explore. Waste no time and head to what’s perhaps the top of the must-see list – the Statue of Liberty. For the best photo op, hop on the free Staten Island Ferry. The Staten Island Ferry is essentially a free ferry provided for residents of Staten Island to reach Manhattan. It won’t let you disembark at Liberty Island or get into the statue like the much pricier tourist boats. But honestly, by the time you’re on the island you’re too close to capture the statue in its entirety anyway. And the line to get into the statue is agonizing. By riding the ferry, you’ll get close enough to snap a photo of the statue not only once, but twice! Once you get to Staten Island, you’ll hop off the boat, make a U-turn and hop back on the next boat to make your way back to Manhattan. What’s in Staten Island, you wonder? Nothing much at all, nothing much.
While you’re in the neighborhood, there are a few free museums and landmarks to visit: Battery Park, Castle Clinton, The National Museum of the American Indian, Charging Bull, NY Stock Exchange, and Federal Reserve Bank.
A few evening activities to consider: Visiting South Street Seaport and then Chinatown for a super cheap eat atProsperity Dumpling. You’ll get 4 freshly-made dumpling for a buck. If you’re visiting during the summer, catch a free outdoor movie at Bryant Park Summer Film Festival. If you’re the adventurous or curious type, join a NYC Freegan meet-up and dumpster dive (bi-weekly). This last suggestion will not only introduce you to the culture of Freeganism, but can score you free food that may last a few days or even a week!
Day 2 – Tuesday
Brooklyn – don’t fuhgeddaboutit!
From 10am to noon every Tuesday, Brooklyn Botanic Garden offers free entry (regular admission $10). This 52-acre garden includes a number of specialty “gardens within the Garden,” from a Japanese garden to a Rose garden to a Shakespeare garden. It’s a good place to soak in some morning sun to start off the day.
Since you’re already in the borough of Brooklyn, you may as well plan your day around it. Next to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden is the Brooklyn Museum. While the Brooklyn Museum offers free entry on the first Saturday of the month, it probably doesn’t fit your schedule. Besides, the $12 general admission is actually a suggested contribution amount (this is true of many NYC museums). So yes, you can choose to contribute $1 if you wish.
Once you’re done getting cultured, head over to Brooklyn Heights Promenade for a spectacular view of the Manhattan skyline, Statue of Liberty, Manhattan Bridge and Brooklyn Bridge. Walking north along the promenade (towards the Brooklyn Bridge) will lead you to many interesting spots including Brooklyn Bridge Park (plenty of public art and free activities. From boating to outdoor yoga classes during the summer) and DUMBO(cobblestoned streets with quaint stores and coffee shops).
To get to Manhattan after a day of exploring Brooklyn, walk your way back over the Brooklyn Bridge. This famous landmark spans the East River, connecting the two boroughs. The wooden pedestrian walkway allows a pleasant stroll. Make sure you make it to Manhattan at around 4pm so you can head to 9/11 Memorial and 9/11 Museum. Entry for the museum is free on Tuesday after 5pm on first-come, first-served basis (unless you’ve reserved online in advance).
A few evening activities you should consider: Grabbing $3 Falafel at Mamoun’s Falafel (one of the best in NYC) in NYU students’ hang-out neighborhood of St. Marks or visiting High Line Park (closes at 7pm during winter) and joining its free Tuesday stargazing session (available during the summer).
Read the full article at http://www.broketourist.net/