Considering how much I talk about traveling on the cheap, I realize that I have never actually showed you how much it actually costs me to go to these places. I don’t obsess over every penny and I don’t usually keep a note of what I spend my money on. That said, when people ask me how much I spend on my travels, I often just give them a rough estimate and never the exact amount. That is, until my most recent trip to Manhattan with Julia, who handles her finances in a much better way than I do! It amazed me that she knows exactly what she spent her money on. Long story short, I followed her lead and I started to keep track of where my money was going.
In an attempt to be more transparent and also to convince you that traveling doesn’t cost heaps of money, I’m going to show you exactly how much that weekend cost us. While we’re at it, please know that this is how I travel. Everybody travels differently and operates on a different budget, so if this doesn’t jive with you, then leave the given advice. However, if it does, let me know next time you need a travel partner!
Anyways, enough talks and let’s get to it!
Here is a quick breakdown of what I spent my money on:
Before you go crazy on me, I have an explanation concerning each of the category above:
With regards to food, we chose to go the simple route and still ate really well. No, we didn’t have extravagant meals at 5-star restaurants, but we did have an amazing Ethiopian food in the Village, and not to mention the delicious cream-cheese-loaded-bagel we had for breakfast that very same day. Manhattan can be terribly expensive, but it doesn’t have to be as long as you are street-smart and you know where to find what you are looking for. Know that you can NEVER go wrong if you eat where the locals eat.
New York, like any other great metropolis in this world, has an AMAZING public transit system that we took advantage of when we were there. Seriously, forget the cabs and take the subway instead. Better yet, walk it if you can! Bonus: It saves you a ton of money AND it counts as your work-out for the day. Tip: If you are landing in Newark, New Jersey, take the Air-Train to get into Manhattan. It can be a little bit slow, but it’s a much cheaper alternative than hiring your own private car.
I categorized everything else I bought into the infamous “miscellaneous” group. This includes things like souvenirs (i.e. this owl soap I got for Lisa), pajama pants from the GAP, and other random things I bought.
You may have noticed that this category is missing from my budget breakdown. That’s because we have an awesome friend who was more than happy to open his apartment for us to crash in (thank you, Daniel!!). It HELPS immensely with keeping things on the cheap. Tip: Get yourselves some friends in the Big Apple or consider alternative accommodations, like AirBnB, or book through Hotwire.
We flew Porter and it was amazing. Hands down, the best flight experience I’ve ever had. Porter can be ridiculously expensive on a regular day. However, they often have their 50% off sales and that’s when you should book your flights! We scored our flights to NYC for $261.79 return, over a weekend (leaving on Friday night, coming back on Monday night). It really doesn’t get better than this.
Outside of flights, my weekend in New York City cost me a grand total of $187.83, with majority of the money going towards food. I realize that having a friend who was willing to take us in helped keeping our costs VERY low (again, THANK YOU DANIEL!). However, even if you have to factor in accommodations, I still think NYC can be done on a budget; most of its attractions are free, after all!
Alright, let it out, people! Do you think I’m too cheap? That’s okay, I think I’m cheap. Actually, frugal would be a better word to describe my spending habit. Your turn – how do you keep your travels on budget? Spill it!