When we holiday or travel (there is a big difference between the two), I like to have enough money to splurge where we want. BUT I cannot stand wasting money on plans that were not thought out and feeling our money could have been put to better use. On our break to New York last November, we learned a few money savvy tricks, here they are:
Travel from JFK to Manhattan
I researched transport options from JFK airport to Manhattan, and most travelers advised to grab a cab – approx $60 including the tip. I didn’t want to fork out $60 on transport and even worse to sit in a cab for an hour.
Tip #1: we bought a Metro Card for $7 and took an inter-terminal train that brought us to Jamaica Station and then a subway straight to Manhattan…with $47 in our pockets!
The New York dinner experience is one not to be missed, and I love the Pershing Cafe at Grand Central. Breakfast cost $57. The exchange rate was on par, so that’s €57 for two fry ups! Doing this five mornings in a row was not for us money wise or what we wanted to eat in general.
Tip #2: Up the street from our hotel, we found a breakfast deli called Fresh To Go (they are all over Manhattan). We paid €20 for two hot breakfast, tea, coffee and juice; and it was delish! The service was quick, and great for us because we were itching to start exploring!
Top of The Rock – View of Manhattan
The idea of visiting the Rockefeller Centre was so exciting! We ice-skated during the day and then headed back at night for the ‘Top Of The Rock’ experience. When you line up for the elevator, the walls are covered in stories about the Rockefeller Centre construction. But the queue moved so fast, there was not enough time to take it all in or any of it for that matter. Don’t get me wrong, the view was amazing and an easy way to get spooked when you count all the planes in the sky at one time! We counted 16 from one side!
Tip #3: give the ‘Top of the Rock’ a miss, and head to Bar 64 instead. It’s on the, you guessed it, 64th floor and has panoramic views of Manhattan. The cheapest cocktail is $20, but it’s free to visit. You can take your drink and nibbles onto the open terrace and take in the same view as the ‘Top Of The Rock’ experience. If you book a table in advance, you can be cozy and warm and watch the lights of Manhattan twinkle!
So instead of paying $64 for a whirlwind tour and rooftop view, head to Bar 64 and grab two cocktails for $40 and take in the same experience!
When I first saw the entry cost of museums like the Whitney and The Met as $25 per person, I was shocked. In Ireland, most museums are free and the rate of exchange is on par, meaning it would cost €50 for one visit.
Tip #4: Read the small print! The suggested price is $25, but you can pay whatever you can afford. If you choose to rent an audio tour pack there is an extra cost of approximately $12 and well worth it.
Statue of Liberty – Staten Island Ferry
Visiting the Statue of Liberty is a funny one. When you visit the island you don’t really see her. She is so tall you are looking up, straining your neck. Back in 2001, I took the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island tour, it was great, but it took a big chunk out of my day. Of course, if this is what you really want to do, then go for it. There were so many other things we wanted to see on this trip, so we skipped the tour and took the commuter ferry instead.
Tip #5: The best way to catch a glimpse of Lady Liberty is by sailing right past her and you can do it for free! Head down to the Staten Island Ferry Terminals and take the passenger commuter ferry. When you get to the other side, hop on the return ferry. Do be careful not to get pulled in by teams selling tour tickets, they are everywhere and will tell you are not allowed to use the commuter ferry and have to buy tickets instead. Not true! Note: AVOID Rush hour!
New York Public Library
One of my favorite buildings in New York, guarded by the majestic lions, Patience and Fortitude, is the New York Public Library on 5th Avenue. The library reading rooms alone are out of this world and it’s also the home of the original teddy bears that inspired A.A. Milne’s Winnie the Pooh and friends, so a great visit for children too. The history of the libraries original filing method is very well told, not to mention the architectural eye candy! It is also the home of nearly every newspaper and magazine publication in the world, so best get your reading glasses out!
Tip #6: The library offers a self-guided audio tour for $5. It’s excellently curated and provides enough detail to be informative, but not an overload. A guided tour is available, but it costs much more.
Did you find this post useful? I can’t wait to go back to New York, and if you have any money-savvy tips, please share them by commenting below. I’d love to add them to this list!
Note: unfortunately I could not share my own images…they were destroyed by a corrupt hard drive. (Sad emoji!)
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