After the question about the weather in New York – check my post about it – this is another question that I always receive: How much I’m gonna spend on my trip to New York City? My answer is: It depends! It depends on many factors. Which attractions do you wanna visit? Do you want to see a Broadway performance? Do you want to eat every day at a nice restaurant? Do you want shopping? It is something too personal for a stranger to come and set your budget for YOUR trip. The truth is that a little research and organization does not kill anyone and helps avoid surprises during your vacation. And to help a little bit, I decided to put together this post to guide you in predicting how much you’re gonna spend.
NOTE: In this post, I am not taking into account the prices of airline tickets or hotels. If you want tips on how to save on accommodation in New York, click here. The reason why I will not consider these two factors is that, first, hotels and airline tickets vary according to the season. Second, let us consider that once you have the ticket and the hotel booked, your concern is about the expenses during the stay in the city.
1. Organize your itinerary– you’ve decided that you are coming to New York. If you are coming to the city, it’s for a reason. Is because you always dreamed about the city, either because you want to see the Statue of Liberty or because you simply chose the city for your vacation. It doesn’t matter. Now that the decision was made, it’s time to start organizing. First, list all the things you always wanted to see and to do – Times Square, Museum of Natural History, Central Park. Then, search, search and search for more. Do not limit your list to only what comes to your mind. New York is a city full of things to do. So let’s search – whether here on the blog and other blogs, websites, books, and magazines to see what the city has to offer. All that is interesting to you, take a note and add it on your wishlist. Do not forget the different activities such as ice skating, a Broadway play, a jazz concert: everything enters your list (if you’re up, sure!).
2. Set your priorities and be aware of the options in the city– do you really want to see the Statue of Liberty or will you be happy taking the free ferry to Staten Island? Will you be satisfied with the view from Top of the Rock or you also wanna see the view from One World Trade Center? You can adapt your itinerary to get the free days of some attractions or do you prefer to pay the entire amount and go whenever you want? Are you ok with the fact of taking the Air Train + subway when you arrive at the airport or do you rather invest a little more and take a shared van or even a particular ride, like a Uber or a cab? Do you want to see a Broadway show? All this information must be taken into account when planning your trip.
3. Open the map – for those not familiar, Google has a feature called Google Maps which is essential for anyone who is organizing a trip. In My Maps, you build your custom map adding your spots. In this way, you will already begin to locate yourself in the city and identifying which spots are close to each other. Thus, you can plan each day of your itinerary, based on locations. Plan each day according to what is a priority for you.
4. List the price of each attraction – open a spreadsheet on Excel or even a simple document on Word and list all the attractions that you already included on your itinerary. Now it’s time to check the price of them – and on the website of each attraction of you will find this information. Add the price of each – and do not forget what has mentioned on item 2. The Museum of Natural History, for example, has suggested admissions- which means that you pay what you want. And there are also many free attractions: Central Park, Times Square, Brooklyn Bridge: all these tours are classic and totally free!
5. Do not forget the fixed costs– will you hire travel insurance? For a 7-day trip, the price of insurance ranges from $26 to $41 per person. It’s the kind of investment that we make hoping to not have to use it – after all, nobody wants to get sick or have any health problems during a trip. But it can happen and we must take this into account. Another thing: New York is a city where you walk a lot and also use the subway a lot. Each ride costs $ 2.75 and there is an unlimited card (personal, non-transferable) which costs $32 for a week and $116 for one month. If you will be here on vacation and will stay at least 5 days do not even think twice: use the weekly pass. If you are going to spend 10 days, buy the weekly pass and then calculate how many times you will need the subway and add the value to use during the remaining days. Still speaking about “fixed costs”, you need to define what will be your transportation from the airport and back to the airport as well.
6. Eating – how much a person spends with food in a day in New York? It depends! You can spend $2 in a slice of pizza or $100 on a full meal at an expensive restaurant. One thing that a friend always says and I think it fits here: if I have X to spend on the trip, I’ll make my trip fits this X budget. Obviously, we need to know the reality of each city. But this phrase is true. Does your hotel offer breakfast? If so, great, it’s an expense you don’t have to worry about. If not, you don’t need to spend a lot. There are a lot of coffee shops locations throughout the city. There are even carts on the street selling coffee, muffins and bagels. Grocery stores are also options to buy some food – both for breakfast and for snacks. For lunch and dinner, I suggest exploring options on Yelp, Google and also here on my blog. Anyway, for each day of your itinerary, see what are the options in the area for lunch.
7. Shopping – do you intend shopping during your trip? If so, make a list of everything you want to buy. Lists prevent you from getting too excited about things that are cheap but you don’t need.
Finally, after reaching a final number, remember to round the value up. It is always good to have a safety margin! Predicting is predicting: at the end of the trip, you can spend less or more than expected, but I guarantee that after following your plan, the difference of what you will spend on what you have planned will not be that big!
A GIFT FOR YOU! Download my free 24-pages Travel Planner to help organize and plan your trip. Features trip overview, expenses, places to go, reminders … it’s super complete! Both Travel Planner and other amazing materials to help with travel planning are available in my Bublup folder. Bublup is a wonderful platform to organize your trip – think of it as a mix of Pinterest + Google Drive! I suggest that you use the platform to organize your trip: save photos, links, videos, everything related to the trip!
Content creator and journalist in New York City. Here, I share lifestyle, beauty, NYC tips, thoughts, and the struggles about living in the most amazing city in the world! I’m not gonna pretend to be another person: I’m a Brazilian immigrant and I think this is my soul, it is part of who I am. I hope you enjoy my content! Follow me on Instagram!