Before visiting New York, I spent hours and hours searching through different travel websites, blogs and forums to determine how much my trip to New York would cost me. Not only are there a range of different factors such as accommodation and flights but also other factors such as spending money, attractions and landmarks as well as many more! Even the smallest of things such as travel insurance can't be overlooked especially when travelling internationally, these prices seem to increase dramatically compared to visiting a country in the EU. I kept every single receipt from the moment I booked my flights and hotel to the moment I got on the plane at JFK which marked the end of my trip. There are 7 different factors which compiled my budget:
Flights to New York can be very cheap or very expensive depending on where you live - domestic trips are obviously going to be a lot cheaper than international flights. Luckily for me I was able to book return flights with British Airways, which included reserving a seat as well as purchasing WiFi for an hour, which cost £562.72. The flights itself was booked in September 2018 for July 2019 and as I travelled outside of school holidays as well as before Independence Day, my flights were reasonably cheaper compared to flights during late July and throughout August. I chose to go World Traveller (Economy) which allowed three bags: a small handbag, a small suitcase which counts as hand luggage and a larger suitcase (hold luggage). British Airways were absolutely incredible for both flights, I would recommend them for travelling comfortably for long-haul flights as well as their unbeatable prices. If you want to find out more information regarding my flight then click here to see my TripAdvisor review.
As New York attracts millions of tourists throughout the year, room rates can change depending on the month, season or if there's any holidays such as Independence Day or Thanksgiving. While searching for accommodation in New York I started by using the site Booking.com to narrow my search down for a hotel in New York rather than a hostel or apartment. From there I narrowed my search down to hotels that were located in Manhattan and those which were located near Midtown Manhattan as it would be in the centre of everything. From there I was still left with a long list of hotels each with their own unique selling point and ranging prices. From there I done my own research into the hotel's reviews from TripAdvisor, to which I'm so glad I did since some hotels may look absolutely spectacular but once you dig a little deeper this image quickly vanishes. Some hotels were reviewed to have bed bugs, guests being overcharged as well as having an unforgettable stay for the wrong reasons. I finally decided on the hotel I wanted to stay at: The Hilton Garden Inn/West 35th Street which cost £1058.26 which was per person, as there were two of us travelling. This price was based on a 9-night stay which included a double room with two double beds, an enormous bathroom and the room itself being spacious with lots of different amenities. The hotel prided itself on its 3-star rating as well as being part of the Hilton chain, a reputable chain that has hotels located all across the globe.
Transport was one of the cheapest factors I considered before even travelling to New York. While planning my itinerary I looked at where the location of certain shops, landmarks and attractions were and from there I researched how to get there from The Hilton Garden Inn. Another reason why I booked The Hilton Garden Inn was the vast variety of transport options, with Herald Square/34th Street being a stone's throw away from the hotel as well as having 8 different subway lines passing through the station. I had planned to buy a MetroCard with a 7-Day Unlimited Ride connected to it, which originally set me back $33 + $1 New MetroCard fee. I got more than my money's worth with my MetroCard as I was taking on average 5/6 journeys per day, doubling the amount I had paid for the card and saving me the hassle of topping up my card per ride. The card itself costs $1, which can be refilled throughout your time in New York. I also added extra credit to my MetroCard when travelling to New Jersey for the day to visit Newport Centre. Additionally, as I had travelled to and from the airport via the AirTrain and Long Island Rail Way (LIRR) that set me back an additional $13 per journey, dependant on the time of day I was travelling as well as my final destination. I only used the New York Subway, the LIRR and AirTrain throughout my trip with no private taxis taken - which brought my total for transport at £70.50.
One of the most important factors travellers should consider before booking their flights and accommodation for New York, or any holiday in general, would be purchasing travel insurance. Travel insurance is so important as it prevents travellers from being out of pocket as well as being covered for their gadgets, baggage, flights or anything that may misfortune travellers throughout their trip and most importantly their health. As I say, you cannot put a price on health, but while buying travel insurance I was more than happy to pay £24.67 which was a Single Trip Insurance which covered mostly all of the factors mentioned above. I'm more than glad that I purchased travel insurance as while I was in New York I contracted a UTI (Bladder Infection) which left me in agony and unable to walk properly around 4 days into my trip. I paid upfront as I would then claim this money when I had returned from my holiday but it cost me $155 to see a doctor and from there $80 for antibiotics. I paid £24.67 and I'm in the process of reclaiming my money back rather than being £190 out of pocket if I hadn't purchased insurance.
Attractions & Activities
Attractions and activities can range in price depending on the budget of the person travelling as well as what they plan to do throughout their stay in New York. For example, if a traveller wants to see an NBA Game tickets can range from $25-40 for a seat whereas a ticket for a baseball game at Yankee Stadium can range from $15-230 depending on your choice of seating. The same rule applies for those wishing to visit a range of different museums while in New York, some museums such as The American Museum of Natural History operates on a pay-as-you-wish basis meaning visitors can pay anywhere from $1 to $30 if they wished (or even more). The 9/11 Museum & Memorial is a must see in New York and prices start at £20.78 if bought beforehand allowing visitors to skip the queue or buying tickets on the day for $26. Some attractions are free such as visiting Times Square, The Staten Island Ferry as well as visiting Central Park. However, those who may want to go on walking tours, those wanting to go up the Statue of Liberty and those wanting to spend more time sightseeing than shopping will spend more on activities and attractions. In total I spent £100.26 on attractions and activities in New York, which include visiting Central Park Zoo, The Empire State Building, 9/11 Museum & Memorial and The American Museum of Natural History. All tickets were booked in advance via GetYourGuide where you're able to buy tickets that allow visitors to skip the line as well as being able to modify or cancel these tickets before or during your trip.
This is the part of the blog where I hang my head in shame while I type out how much I spent during my time in New York. As I had planned to go absolutely crazy in New York on shopping I made sure that I'd sorted my clothes out before going to New York and donating some to charity as well as figuring out my size in the US (as it's very different than the UK). I went to every shop imaginable - from Bath and Body Works to Macy's to then TJ Maxx to get unbelievable deals and then to China Town to get souvenirs for my friends and family. It's all fun and games picking up items and putting them in your basket until everything has been rung up and the cashier declares your total is $112.32 - where did it all go wrong? I only picked up 15 shower gels, 32 hand sanitizers, 4 candles, 2 bottles of perfume and.. oh, I did buy a lot.. Throughout my stay in New York I spent the grand total of £479.85. Some people may not shop that much while in New York, this price applies to those who shop everyday and want to buy designer goods that are discounted in shops such as Macy's and TJ Maxx.
Food & Drink
It's very hard to determine how much travellers should budget when travelling to New York for food and drink. There are people who don't mind a $1 slice of pizza and a $3 hot-dog whereas there are others who prefer to dine in more fancier and therefore more expensive restuarants. I had three meals per day, breakfast, lunch and dinner and sometimes a quick snack. In this section of my budget I included snacks bought from Target and Walgreens to put in the fridge of my hotel room such as soft drinks, water, cookies and chocolate. It's also important to note that I turned 20 during my trip to New York, which meant I wasn't able to purchase or consume alcohol as the law restricts the age to consume and purchase alcohol at 21. Every person has different tastes in food as well as some having dietary requirements which makes it hard to pinpoint a budget for food and drink. I budgeted $50 per day:
TOTAL SPENT FOR 9 DAYS IN NEW YORK: £2,536.88 (Approximately $3,140)
As this was my first trip to New York I had planned that I would spend a lot, especially with accommodation and shopping, as I wouldn't have a chance to return back for the next few years. Nearly half of the money spent consisted of paying for the hotel, which would've been a lot more if I had decided to travel alone, as well as a huge majority being taken by purchasing flights. I'd chosen and preferred to fly with a airline such as British Airways as they provide a high quality service and I knew I would be in good hands. Others may prefer airlines that costs less whereas others may pay for more expensive airline tickets if they want to travel in style and luxury.
Tips and tricks for all aspects of travelling, most of which include saving money.