I am often asked: what budget should I plan for a trip to New York? I will therefore answer this question in this article. It is actually quite difficult to give an indication of a travel budget for New York, as it will depend a lot on your desires and your travel style.
If you like good restaurants and big, well placed hotels, your budget for New York will inevitably be higher than if you don't mind youth hostels and little known (but sometimes very tasty) restaurants. In any case, I'm going to give you the prices of the main expenses of a trip to New York so that you can prepare your budget for New York.
Points to consider when drawing up your budget
To prepare for your trip to New York, it is important to think about all the expenses you may need to make once you get there, but also about how you can save money (yes, as early as possible!).
The two most important and expensive points in your budget will be airfare and accommodation. The prices for these two will vary greatly depending on the airline you choose, the period of your stay (by the way, if you don't know when to go to New York, I have a complete article on the subject!), or even the borough of New York where you choose to live.
Once you have determined the budget you need to allocate to these two main points, you will also have to plan how much money you will need to fully enjoy your discovery of the city.
You will need to take into account:
- Attractions and tours
- Small pleasures
Let's look at each of these criteria in a little more detail, and see how important they will be to your travel budget.
The prices of flights to New York
Airline fares to New York vary essentially according to 3 criteria:
- The time of year you will be travelling,
- The airline and the type of ticket,
- The time of year you book your flight.
Since the price of the tickets will be an important part of your budget, and it will also vary a lot depending on the date you take your ticket, I really advise you to start the organisation of your stay in New York by choosing and buying your tickets.
It is during the summer and Christmas periods that flight prices are the highest. Conversely, it is during the slower periods of the year, especially from January to early April, that you can find the cheapest tickets.
The timing of your booking is also important. If you plan to visit New York during the peak season, book as early as possible. If possible, you should make your reservation 6 months to a year before your departure, to take advantage of the most attractive fares.
For off-peak periods, it will be a little more complicated. By booking very early, you can certainly get lower prices, but it is also possible that you will miss a last minute promotion.
In terms of fares, you can find return tickets from low-cost airlines from around £250 for travel during off-peak periods. During the high season, traditional tickets are more likely to cost between £660 and £825.
More generally, you'll need to spend £415 to £580 per person for a return flight to New York from London, France, or a European country. These prices are only guidelines, and I would advise you not to wait too long for the “golden deal'' when looking for your ticket. Whatever the time of year, if you find return tickets for £330 or less, you can consider this to be a very good fare, and there is no guarantee that you will find a better deal before you leave.
Don't hesitate to use platforms such as Skyscanner or Kayak, which will allow you to compare the different flights offered for your dates (using a few search criteria that you will need to fill in): price, duration of the flight, number of stopovers, departure and arrival airports, etc.
Accommodation prices in New York
The part of your budget that will be spent on accommodation in New York will also be significant. Once again, it can vary greatly depending on the time of your trip. Generally speaking, hotel prices in New York City can almost double between February and August. Of course, the borough you choose and the level of service offered by the hotel will also have a big impact on the price.
If you're on a tight budget, you can find rooms for as little as £45 (or even less) in a homestay or hostel. If you want a room for two in a comfortable hotel, I would advise you to budget at least £85 for one night.
If you want the pleasure of staying in an upmarket area, prices will rise quickly. For a night in a well-located Manhattan hotel, you'll need to spend at least £245 for a double room. If you want to enjoy a view of Central Park (New York's green lung), expect to pay at least double that price.
As with your choice of flights, you can also use platforms such as Booking or Hotel.com to find the different accommodations available for your dates.
You can filter your search using different criteria: location, price, facilities required for your needs, etc.
By booking through a platform, you will have a certain security on your reservation and will be able to rely on customer service if you ever need to.
During your search, you may also see some establishments offering a discount, which will either allow you to save on the budget you had set for yourself, or to treat yourself by booking a better establishment than you had originally planned 🙂
Eating in New York
Of course, you will also need to budget for meals. The cost of living is generally quite high in New York, and restaurants are no exception. But you will have a wide variety of meals to choose from, some of which are particularly affordable. This means that your budget can vary from a typical New York hotdog for as little as $3 to a meal costing hundreds of dollars at one of the city's more upscale gourmet restaurants.
Here are some examples of the prices charged for meals in New York:
- If your breakfast is not included with your hotel room, you will have to spend about $5 per person for a hot drink and pastry.
- For a meal at a fast food restaurant, you can get a full menu for about £9.
- If you wish to eat in a more typical restaurant, you will find menus starting at around £17.
- In New York’s big restaurants, prices vary greatly depending on the products used in the preparation of your dishes. The most affordable menus in gourmet restaurants start at around £33.
Taking all this information into account, you should expect to pay around £25 per day per person, or around £165 for a week. If you want to try a lot of restaurants and try as many New York specialties as possible, don't hesitate to double this budget to have a comfortable margin.
Price of visits in New York
On a trip to New York, you will obviously want to see as many places of interest as possible and visit the city’s most iconic places. The best advice I can give you is to take a New York CityPASS. For a first trip to New York, this tourist pass is practically indispensable.
It will allow you to visit 6 of the most popular attractions in New York, which you choose from a list of 9. This means you'll get access to the city's most popular tourist attractions, such as the Empire State Building and Top of the Rock, at an average saving of 40%. You will need to pay approximately £90 per person to obtain a New York CityPASS.
Outside of this pass, attractions will cost you between £16.50 and £33 per person. Some popular activities are much more expensive – a helicopter ride over New York, for example. To see the city from the air, you'll need to pay at least £125 per person.
If you want to see a sporting event in New York, you can find tickets to an NBA game or an American football game for as little as £41 – although you'll have to spend at least £82.50 if you want good seats. In the end, you should budget at least £85 for a week for sightseeing and activities.
Transportation costs in New York
To get around during your stay in New York, you will mainly have the choice between taxis and public transport. A very practical and economical solution is to buy an unlimited MetroCard. This card will allow you to travel on all New York underground lines at will, but also to take any bus in the city.
A single ride on the New York City underground costs $2.75. The unlimited MetroCard for a week is $33, so you only need to make two trips a day to make it worthwhile. The underground and bus system is extensive enough that you can make all the trips of your stay with this pass.
On the days of your arrival and departure, you will also have to make the transfer between the airport and the city. The price of these transfers varies depending on the airport where your plane is located (LaGuardia, JFK, Newark...). The less expensive method will be to take the AirTrain, which is directly connected to the underground system. The round trip will cost you about $15.
There are also shuttle buses between the airport and the city, which cost around $17 per trip. To reach the city by taxi or private car, you will need to pay at least £41.
How much should you budget for shopping and extras?
You'll need to budget at least a small amount to treat yourself or your loved ones during your trip to New York. Whether you're a shopaholic or not, it's wise to budget at least a few hundred pounds to bring back a few small souvenirs or to be able to take a trip to Macy's if the mood strikes you.
To avoid too much frustration, it's also important to set aside a few dozen pounds for unforeseen events and little extras – you can use them to take a few tasty breaks in bars or pastry shops, for example.
The overall budget for a stay in New York
Taking all these points into account, it is therefore possible to plan a one-week stay in New York for around £660 per person. This very tight budget will allow you to go during the off-peak period. However, if you want to go during the tourist season and enjoy a little more of all the activities available in New York, you should plan for at least £1,240 per person!