Superpaige's Pad

The Trials of a Busy Mom

How to do New York on the cheap

We decided to keep track of our expenses in New York, just to see how much our “free trip” cost us, and Ryan whipped out a little program on his phone and REALLY kept track. Every souvenir, even snacks he wrote down. I was kind of hoping he wouldn’t be so vigilant about the record keeping, but it was interesting to know how much we were really spending.

We already had the most expensive part covered. The prize included the airfare and the hotel, which was the MAJOR expense.

Date Category Description Amount
21-Mar Travel 2 bags checked $50.00
21-Mar Food Lunch at DFW $9.00
21-Mar Taxis Taxi from LaGuardia to Hotel $35.00
21-Mar Food Long Room NYC $36.47
21-Mar Food Walgreens (Snacks) $11.46
22-Mar Travel MetroCards (2) $58.00
22-Mar Food Lunch at the Met $22.50
22-Mar Clothing Hat $14.62
22-Mar Entertainment CityPass (2) $158.00
22-Mar Food Oatmeal $5.99
22-Mar Food Hi-Chew $3.46
23-Mar Taxis Taxi to Nate Burkus Show $7.00
23-Mar Food Lunch at Mangia Salad Bar $21.00
24-Mar Food Lunch at Ellis Island $22.32
24-Mar Souvenirs Souvenirs at Ellis Island $12.84
24-Mar Souvenirs Liberty Bear $13.07
24-Mar Souvenirs Souvenirs — Empire State Bldg. $27.40
24-Mar Food Baja Fresh $20.46
25-Mar Entertainment Hotel Internet $19.37
25-Mar Food Snacks at Central Park $12.00
25-Mar Tips Bag handling tips, etc. $7.00
25-Mar Taxis Taxi to JFK $60.00
25-Mar Food Dinner at JFK $24.41
26-Mar Travel Parking at SLC Airport $35.00

TOTAL: $686.37

If you break it down into categories, we spent
$85 on checking bags and parking (could have avoided that $50 if we were flying Delta or Jet Blue, or if we had not checked bags, and the parking fee if we had had someone drop us off and pick us up)
$102 on taxis (if we really wanted to be frugal, we could have taken public transit to and from the airport, but that just sounded like a huge pain)
$162.15 on meals. We went out to dinner with an associate of Ryan’s one night, and he picked up the tab. That was our most expensive dinner and we didn’t have to pay! The rest of the time, we didn’t really plan our meals, but when we were hungry, looked to see what was around. While not cheap, our lunches and dinners averaged about $25 each. Our hotel did not offer us free breakfast, but we made oatmeal in our room and that was good enough for breakfast.
$26.92 on snacks. We stopped in at Walgreens and got some snacks to drag along with us, and I also had packed some snacks from home, including a few bottles of diet coke in my checked luggage. Everything in NY is more expensive, so I should have let Ryan pick out snacks here at home, and we could have saved on the snacks. But sometimes, you are starving and just HAVE to buy a hot dog and some nuts in central park.
$158 on the New York Citypass. This is a real money saver! It included admission to ALL the attractions we went to, and we did them all. There were also a few extras that were included, like the audio tour at the Empire State Building, which was included with the city pass, and even though I would never have paid the extra cost, it was really a neat way to view the city and learn. And it saved us standing in a few lines to purchase tickets, so it was WELL worth the cost.
$67.93 on souvenirs. Yes, we are totally cheap. I would have liked to have gotten a really cute purse, but I didn’t end up doing that. The only thing I bought for myself was a hat, and it was kind of a necessity because it was cold and windy. We bought some stuff for the kids, and that was it.
$58.00 on two week long Metro cards. Even though we were only there 5 days, the week long metro cards were worth it. Otherwise we’d have to buy a ton of single use cards for $2.50 each, and that would have cost even more money.
$26.37 misc. This includes tips and internet. We used Ryan’s loaner smart phone for most of the time, but did splurge on one nights internet charges (almost $20 for internet each night is so steep, we tried to do without it)

We didn’t see any Broadway shows, which would have seriously upped our total. We instead attended tv show tapings, which was also really fun.

So, there you have it. Our grand total for 5 days in New York City was under $700! How’s that for cheap?


  1. Sounds good to me. You now have that permanently recorded, so if anyone wants to know what they might expect to pay for things in NYC, they can check with you.

  2. howdy. so a while back you mentioned wanting to read nick & norah’s infinite playlist. i’d like to send you a copy, but to do that i would need a mailing address. could you email it to me at thanks.

  3. Dear Paige:

    Thank you so much for mentioning New York CityPASS in your post. It was great to see it highlighted.

    If any of your readers are looking for CityPASS, I wanted to let you know that we changed the spelling of our name a few years back. We went from “CityPass” to “CityPASS” (all one word; all capital letters on “PASS”). There are a few competitor passes with similar names, so the new spelling helps to differentiate us.

    Anyway, thanks again for mentioning CityPASS. I enjoyed reading your post … although, I really think you should have gone for that cute purse.

    Best wishes,
    Deborah Wakefield

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