Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Travel Tip Tuesday....New York City

We returned from NYC around midnight on Friday night. It was both M and mine's very first trip to The Big Apple and it was amazing! I have been to Chicago several times and thought NYC would be similar, but it just doesnt compare. It is SO big and there is SO, SO much to see and do that you really need a month to see it all! We crammed as much into 5 days as humanly possible and we are both just now feeling recovered from our whirlwind adventure. We walked an average of 12-13 miles each day (hello half marathons on a daily basis), saw some famous sites, and ate some delish food! In true Ashlee form, we stuck to a budget and found some great ways to save money while enjoying everything the City has to offer!

Here are some of my suggestions for how we saved money:
1) Booked the hotel through my travel bff, Hotwire. We scored a $350+ night room (rates normally a little less than this, but raised for peak holiday time)....at The W.... for $123

2) Stay in Hoboken NJ vs NYC. I was skeptical about this at first. I was picturing a hotel full of Snookis and Pauly D's, trashy streets, and a long commute into the city. It was neither; our views were stunning, Hoboken was super cute, and it saved us about $150 each night vs staying at a decent hotel in Times Square! That x 5 nights = mucho $$ in our pockets!

3) Remember here when I said to always become a member of hotel and airlines reward programs. Well, it paid off, yet again, getting us a FREE upgrade from a Hoboken view room to a Manhattan View room. About a $75 a night upgrade. I just asked upon check in if it was possible to have an upgrade and was granted one for simply being a Starwoods Rewards Member (free to join).

View from our hotel room! Amazing!
4) Use public transportation vs taxis. Taxis are costly and the subway moves a whole lot faster-especially if you know which trains to use and during peak vistor times when traffic is CRAZY!!!We used the Embark NYC app and it was a lifesaver. It was free (I rarely ever pay for an app) and would tell us exactly what subway to use, where the nearest station was located, the quickest route possible, etc.

5) Use the Explorer Pass to see the sites. I researched several options before leaving and found this to be the best option. You pay $69 to see 3 attractions from a list of 55. We chose the NBC Experience, Hop on Hop Off Bus Tour, as well as the TV and Movie Sites tour. Total, these would've cost us around $120 if booked individually, so it saved us about $50 each. We also did the Statue of Liberty and Top of the Rock, but paid for those out of pocket and used the Explorer Pass to cover our more expensive options. It didnt matter how much items costs on the Explorer Pass-it was just any 3 attractions from their list (which covered basically everything touristy in the City). So, we opted to use it to cover our more expensive options and paid the other's (Statue of Liberty was only $13 each) out of pocket. We couldve used the Explorer Pass to cover those, but why use it for a $13 site when you can use it for a $45 site?! Make sense?!

6) Buy a Metro and Smarlink Card (if using the PATH from NJ) vs paying out of pocket each time you ride. The Metro card is also good on NYC buses.

7) Everything in Times Square costs about 25% more vs. a few block out of TS- especially souvenirs! Avoid buying anything right in the heart of TS!

8) There are LOTS of free things to see and do, so take advantage! Central Park, some museums, The Today Show, etc.

Get there around 7AM for a primo spot! She did the entire weather segment in front of us!
9) Greenwich Village has a lot of cute boutiques full of things at awesome prices! I got the flower to pin in my hair for our wedding for $3 there and it is c-u-t-e and exactly what I was looking for- plus it came from right around the block from the actual apartment that was used as Carrie Bradshaw's "apartment." I can only imagine that if she were real, she would shop there, too! ha!

10) And finally, get your Rolex's and Louis Vuitton purses from either Canal Street or in the South Street Seaport area. The people on Canal Street were super rude, so we opted to buy our items from Seaport. I would recommend this as well if you dont like rude people being in your face while trying to decide on what purse you want!  You cant come home from NYC without something "designer" and at only $45, I feel like my Louis was a steal ;)

**We didn't see a Broadway show while we were there, mostly because the one show we both wanted to see (Book of Mormon) was sold out months before we left. However, TKTS sells last minute tickets for shows not sold out at 50% off so if you're willing to wait in a line for an hour or so, it will save you big bucks!! There's a TKTS in Times Square and in South Seaport! We just didnt have time to wait in line since we were trying to see and do so much!

Happy New York City-ing



  1. I'm a new gfc follower from the mingle with us hop. I'd love if you'd stop by my blog too. Have a great day.


  2. Great travel tips!! I love to travel too and always remind folks in my blog about airline and hotel programs. Sounds like you had a blast, I would love to see the Today show film. :) Thanks for stopping by the other day, I am following back. If you want more ideas for travel just search travel in my blog, there is a ton of places and ideas. Hope you are having a great new year, congrats on the up coming wedding.