Skip to primary navigation Skip to content Skip to footer

Check out the What’s Filming Now live-feed social media app by On Location Tours!

This app shows you where movies and TV shows are being filmed, in real-time!

a close up of a sign
Back to Blog


New York City is one of the most expensive places in the United States. Even Brooklyn, which for a long time played second fiddle to Manhattan, now boasts the most unaffordable housing market in the country, according to Bloomberg. And, CBS News reports that Manhattan and Brooklyn are number-one and -two on a list of America’s most expensive cities, respectively.

So if you’re planning a visit to the city that never sleeps, your personal finances could take a massive hit – but, that doesn’t mean they have to. Plan your trip wisely, make a few small sacrifices, and you can thoroughly enjoy New York City without saddling yourself with a ton of credit card debt.

1. Get a Cheap Flight
If you’re flying into NYC, make sure you save as much as you can on your tickets. Once you know the dates of your trip, input them at a travel aggregator website like BookingBuddy and receive updates on fares and notifications when prices drop. In addition, sign up for email updates from your preferred airline carrier and you may get the scoop on some one-day sales.

2. Save on Lodging
Airbnb offers a great way to save on lodging. Simply enter your travel dates and desired location and you get a list of homeowners willing to rent out a room or a full apartment. Not only do these prices typically beat out NYC hotel rates, but you get many of the conveniences of home, including a full kitchen and multiple bedrooms, if necessary. A friend of mine recently used Airbnb for a trip to New York City and secured lodging for about $30 per night. You’ll need to check out the prices on various New York City neighborhoods to see which best fits your interests and budget.

3. Eat for Less
When you’re out and about in New York City, don’t simply pass those world-famous street vendors by when you get hungry. Try Sabrett’s for hot dogs and the Calexico food cart for Mexican, both of which have various carts throughout the city. The Milk Truck cart serves classic American dishes like grilled cheese and macaroni and cheese, and its location can be tracked online. The Union Square Farmers Market is also great – especially the Hawthorne Valley Booth – and its days and hours can also be tracked online.

4. Save on Entertainment
Use daily deal websites like Groupon to save on entertainment costs while you’re in town – discounts of 50% or more are not uncommon. Recently, deals have been posted for 51%-off tickets to “Bayside! The Musical!” and 55% off for tickets to “50 Shades! The Musical Parody.” Plus, the Museum of Modern Art features free admission each Friday from 4 pm to 8 pm, as does the Museum of the Moving Image. For other entertainment events, try the TKTS Ticket Booth at various locations throughout the city.

5. Cut Transportation Costs
The Staten Island Ferry is free and it gets you from Manhattan to Staten Island with a great view of New York Harbor and the Statue of Liberty. Purchasing a MetroCard for the subway system saves a bundle too – they’re available at subway station booths and neighborhood retailers. If you rented a car, use the website SpotHero to book discounted parking or check a few New York City parking garages online, like Icon Parking Systems, for discounts and coupons. Another option is to travel by bike: Visit the website Rent a Bike NYC or Citi Bike NYC for bike rental information.

6. Cut Souvenir Costs
Instead of hitting up the gift shops at various New York City tourist attractions, why not get an authentic souvenir made from a hometowner? There are countless flea markets and thrift stores in New York and they’re all chock full of treasures. Wait for the weekend and hit up Chelsea Antiques Garage in Manhattan or the Brooklyn Flea or Williamsburg Flea Market in Brooklyn. All of these feature handmade souvenirs and vintage accessories sure to give you a lasting memory of your trip.

Final Thoughts
In the midst of identifying cheap entertainment options, consider a movie or TV show tour through OnLocationTours. Generally, tours cost approximately $45 and are usually three and a half hours long. Try the Sex and the City Hotspots Tour, the Sopranos Sites Tour, or one of many other options. In addition to traditional tourist attractions like the Empire State Building and Central Park, throw a little creativity into the mix and you can enjoy your trip all the more.

What other ways do you know of to save money when traveling to New York City?

Ken Gibbs enjoys traveling of all kinds, domestic and international, and is always open to sharing his best travel tips and experiences.