So my wife and I recently took a 7 day/6 night vacation in New York City and I wanted to provide an update each day on what we’re spending our money on.
Outside of booking our flight & hotel on a credit card the month before and then paying it off a few weeks later at the beginning of February when the bill was due, we didn’t use credit at all for this trip. We also didn’t dig into savings. Because of that, we tried to keep expenses relatively low so we didn’t put ourselves in a bad spot after the trip.
Not only do I want to be transparent about how we did with our finances on the trip, but I certainly welcome any feedback anyone may have for how we could save more when we travel.
We’re still relative novices in the grand scheme of things when it comes to travel, so the more info the better.
Trip Total – $2,433
Read on to see what we’re spending our money on.
Day 1 – Travel Day to NYC
So Day 1 is going to include many of our initial expenses (Ex. flights, full hotel cost, etc.). So far, we’ve spent money on:
$1,207 – 6 nights in a Holiday Inn Express in the city and two round-trip tickets from the West Coast. This actually was something that was charged to us when we booked our trip in January. We used our USAA credit card for points and paid it off in full at the beginning of February.
$84 – Round-trip Super Shuttle transfer from Newark Airport to Times Square. This will cover our drop-off at the beginning of the trip and pickup at the end of the trip. From what we were researching, a taxi costs about $55 – $75 and other stories from people at work have placed an Uber fare at $110+ one way. So we got a great deal here.
$64 – 2 unlimited ride, 7-day NYC subway passes
$230 – NYC offers a City Pass where you can gain access to 6 different attractions (Ex. Empire State Building, Ellis Island, World Trade Center) for a bundled cost. So we purchased 2. We were wanting to do these activities anyway and buying together saved quite a bit of money. And with 6 activities we are basically covered for the entirety of the trip.
$40 – Statue of Liberty. Two tickets to head over. After we purchased these, we got a local tip that if you don’t want to get really up-close, you can just take the Staten Island Ferry to get a good, free view.
$20 – Breakfast at the airport. We had to get to the airport this morning at 5:15 so we ended up just getting breakfast near the gate to make sure we had plenty of time this morning. Downside? Costs are obviously inflated at the airport. Probably could have been something we skipped and instead had food at home before we left.
$2 – Juice at the airport. My wife has type 1 diabetes and if her blood sugar goes low she needs juice so she can quickly get it under control. We’ve tried to bring sealed juice through security and explain our situation and we’ve been able to get approval to do so, but it ends up creating more hassle than it’s worth. Therefore, we just purchase something behind security.
$17 – Dinner. We got a 4 large slices of pizza and two drinks at a nearby pizza place. Quite tasty, but also seems like it ended up being a bit expensive. Lesson learned, although I’m assuming that may actually be pretty reasonably priced based on what I’ve heard about costs in NYC.
$11 – Dessert. We walked back from dinner to our hotel (about 2 miles) and passed by dessert place that looked pretty tasty, so we stopped in and tried it.
$13 – Walgreen s. We purchased a few snacks for the hotel and for future days so we didn’t have to go out and buy things from restaurants every time.
Day 2 (First full day)
$4 – Walgreen’s. Some hairspray my wife forgot.
$41 – Lunch. Really hungry, We ended up heading into a restaurant without asking to take a look at the menu (and its prices) beforehand. Lesson learned.
$37 – Strand Book Store. One of the most well-known bookstores in NY & founded in 1927. Really cool store. They have around 18 miles worth of books. My wife purchased a few things here
$127 – Dinner & piano bar. We ended up taking a friend out to dinner who lives in the city so with an extra person and spending extra time out our tab ended up coming in hot. Considering our normal dinners out are about $25 after tip, this was quite the difference.
Day 3 – A visit to the 9/11 Memorial
$158 – We bought some discounted same-day tickets for a Broadway show. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time. Definitely a…unique…play.
$10 – Breakfast. Overslept and missed the hotel’s free breakfast so we got some from a cafe across the street.
$21 – Shake Shack. Late lunch after the 9/11 memorial.
$11 – Walgreen’s. A couple additional snacks.
$5 – Dinner. We grabbed some pizza after our show.
Day 4 – Brooklyn and Empire State Building
Busy, busy day of walking. From my Fitbit, we ended up walking ~28,000 steps and over 13 miles today. Great to be active, but the downside of burning 4,200+ calories is that you need to eat that much (and therefore spend that money).
$6 – Breakfast. Slept in. Again.
$14 – Lunch in Harold’s Square
$13 – Empire State Building.
$16 – Afternoon snack. Waffles. Yum!
$22 – Dinner. A sandwich/melt shop near Rockafeller Center which was pretty tasty.
$10 – Dessert. We found a good shake place as we were walking back to our hotel.
Total – $81
Day 5 – Statue of Liberty
After walking over 13 miles the day before we had a relatively relaxed day today.
$16 – Walgreen’s. Bought an umbrella because it was supposed to rain quite a bit today.
$10 – Walgreen’s. Bought snacks for the hotel room because we ran out.
$16 – Lunch at the Statue of Liberty.
$8 – Dessert – Some ice cream near our hotel.
$43 – Dinner – Went out to eat in Queens with some friends that live in the city.
Total – $93
Day 6 – Last Full Day
$21 – Nintendo store at Rockefeller Plaza. Bought a shirt and almost bought a Game Boy. I was feeling nostalgic.
$16 – Shake Shack – Lunch
$40 – Tickets to She Loves Me. We weren’t very pleased with the first show we went to and were able to get cheap tickets to this show. Definitely more entertaining.
$15 – Dinner – A small pizza place near where we had been spending time during the day.
Total – $92
Day 7 – Traveling Home
+$16 – Walgreen’s. We returned our umbrella from the other day because we didn’t use it.
$16 – Breakfast at a nearby breakfast spot. Delicious french toast!
$5 – Lunch before the airport.
$10 – Hudson News in the airport – I was going to finish my book on the flight home so I ended up buying The Martian to read as well.
$15 – Dinner. We bought this at the airport before boarding our plane mid-afternoon, but this basically ended up being our dinner since we didn’t eat until we got home that evening.
$25 – Bag check fee. Despite being allowed to carry on both bags for no charge on the way to NYC, someone in the Newark airport decided that one of our bags was too big (let’s ignore the fact someone with the SAME EXACT bag was 5 people in front of us in security). Not sure what the deal was. Needless to say I was frustrated because it cost us an extra $25.
Total – $65
For a 6 night, 7 day trip across country, we were both pretty pleased with our final tally of just under $2,500. Sure, there were some expenses (mostly food) that we could have avoided or spent less on, but in the end our final tally worked for us because we were able to use cash for our entire vacation. We didn’t have to dip into savings and we didn’t have to use our credit card at all.