In college, it seems like it’s nearly impossible to take a trip or vacation with your own money. Getting away can seem like a distant dream, but it’s actually very doable. This past weekend I took a weekend trip to New York City and, miraculously, didn’t drop an unreasonable amount of money. In this short guide, I’m going to give you some tips on how to travel to NYC on a budget and still have an amazing time.
1. Take the bus
The bus is by far the most economic option for travelling to NYC. It’s a lot cheaper than taking the train or flying, although it does take longer to arrive to your final destination. I took Megabus, and paid less than $60 for round-trip bus service to NYC. Megabus also has a student discount, which is great for those us who are trying to keep spending to a minimum. Although not the most comfortable ride, the bus does get you from point A to point B for cheap.
2. Stay with a friend
If possible, I recommend crashing with a friend. NYC is notorious for expensive housing, and hotels are no exception. I stayed with a good friend at New York University, and I was so busy I didn’t even spend much time in the dorm. As a college student, you are bound to have a friend at one school in or near the city, so don’t be afraid to reach out and ask to stay with them. If that doesn’t work out, an Airbnb is also good option.
3. Take the subway
This is a huge one and definitely the tip I’d stress the most. It’s very easy to just want to order an Uber or jump in a cab, but those can get super expensive in NYC. The subway will literally take you anywhere. If you’re like me and extremely unfamiliar with public transportation, do not fret. There is an app called Citymapper that you can download, and it will literally show you step by step how to take the subway to your desired destination. This app was a lifesaver on my trip, so I highly recommend downloading it before heading to the city. With the app, there will be no excuse to drop $20 every time you need to go somewhere.
4. Free/cheap activities
There is so much you can do in NYC without getting caught in the expensive tourist traps. For example, most of the museums have student discounts or are completely free to students, so it’s worth looking into. Also, if you want to take some sort of boat tour, you can just take the Staten Island Ferry there and back. It’s way cheaper than the official boat tours offered and it goes right by the Statue of Liberty. Another good tip is to take some time to explore the other boroughs besides Manhattan, which can get overcrowded and expensive. Try checking out Williamsburg or Dumbo in Brooklyn, or maybe the Bronx Zoo. New York is so much more than Manhattan and the overly cheesy, classic tourist stops, so consider exploring the other boroughs.
Hopefully this short guide has helped you plan a trip to NYC, or inspired you to take one. It’s totally doable as a college student, and I highly recommend it. It’s very easy to get stuck in the BU bubble, so take a weekend off to go explore somewhere new.