The Ultimate Guide to Budget-Friendly Travel in New York for Students

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Let’s admit it; a visit to NYC is an unforgettable experience but the city can also be notoriously expensive especially for students and young adults. Luckily, there are many budget-friendly ways to explore this amazing metropolis and this guide is here to help you unlock some of the secrets!

Read on for useful advice on where to stay, what to eat, and how to get around the Big Apple without stressing over money too much.

Let’s dive straight in!

Budget planning and saving tips

As with anything else, it all starts by budgeting for your travel expenses. For starters, calculate the cost of your airline tickets, ground transportation, hotels, meals, attractions, and shopping.

Once you know how much is enough, start setting aside money each week or month to cover these expenses. If you can’t afford to pay for everything upfront, look into options like travel credit cards that offer rewards points or cash back on travel spending.

In addition to budgeting, it’s also important to research deals and discounts ahead of time. We recommend checking websites like Groupon and LivingSocial for deals.

You can also sign up for email newsletters from airlines, hotels, and companies offering tourist activities in NYC so that you’re aware of any specials or promotions they’re running.

Getting to and around New York City

There are plenty of budget-friendly travel options available to students getting to New York City. For cheap flights, there are a few things you can do.

First, sign up for fare alerts with your favorite airlines. This way, you’ll be notified whenever there’s a sale or a good deal on flights. You can also search for flights on discount airlines like Spirit and Allegiant. These airlines typically have lower fares than the major carriers.

Once you’re in New York City, consider using buses for local travel. These are often cheaper than taxis and there are many different companies that offer service to the city. Some of the most popular bus services include Megabus and BoltBus.

Trains offer another excellent option for budget-friendly travel within NYC. Just be sure to check out schedules and fares ahead of time so you can plan your trip accordingly.

You can also purchase a MetroCard to use on subway trains and buses or take advantage of any free shuttle services that may be available from your accommodation (such as those offered by many hotels).

Finding accommodation

When you’re trying to save money on accommodation while traveling, the obvious route is to find a cheap hotel or motel. However, if you’re willing to get a little creative, there are plenty of other options for budget-friendly lodging.

A good example is hostels. These typically offer dorm-style rooms with shared bathrooms and kitchens, making them an economical choice for solo travelers or small groups. You’ll find decent ones for as little as $30 per night.

Another cost-effective lodging option, especially if you’re traveling with others, is to rent one of the furnished apartments in New York City through Blueground or another similar service. This way, you can cook your own meals and save money on dining out. Plus, it gives you a more “local” experience of living here.

Finally, you can use the couchsurfing service which connects travelers with locals willing to open up their homes and offer free lodging in exchange for conversation and cultural exchange.

Food and drink

New York is famous for its street food, so why not take advantage of this and save some money on meals out? Grab a slice of pizza or a hot dog from a vendor or head to one of the many cheap and cheerful delis dotted around the city.

If you’re looking for something more substantial, try one of the city’s many ethnic eateries where you can get delicious food at bargain prices.

And when it comes to drinks, happy hours are your friend – many bars and restaurants offer reduced-price drinks during certain times of day. Take advantage of these offers to save big on drinks.

Taking advantage of free attractions

NYC is home to some of the most famous attractions in the world, and many of them are free! As a student on a budget, be sure take advantage of these free attractions:

The Statue of Liberty

Take a ferry from Battery Park to see one of America’s most iconic landmarks.

Central Park

New York’s largest park is the perfect place to relax, have a picnic, or go for a stroll.

Museum of Modern Art (MOMA)

This world-renowned museum has an extensive collection of modern and contemporary art, and admission is always free for students!

Brooklyn Bridge

Walk or ride your bike across this historic bridge for stunning views of Manhattan and the East River.


When traveling to one of the most expensive cities in the world, a little money management can go a long way. By following the tips we shared here, you’ll be able to save money and experience all that NYC has to offer.

We hope you’ll enjoy your trip. Safe travels!

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