If you follow me over on Instagram then you’ll know that right now, I’m in New York with the kids.
I’ve mentioned a couple of times that I’m a bit of a strict budget and so many of you have messaged me to ask me what we’re getting up to if I don’t have much money to spend so I thought I’d share our days with you.
Before I do though, for those of you who don’t know, we booked this trip last minute after a few life dramas last year, we paid for it using money we’d saved for a boiler in our Emergency Fund (I know, not the cleverest thing to do) and we didn’t really have much time to save up for our spending money. Hence the tighter than usual budget.
The reason we chose this week is that it seemed to be the cheapest time to travel when we were looking at prices – the fact that its half term was just a happy coincidence that made me feel like fate was trying to tempt me into booking up. If you’re interested, we booked a city break package through British Airways that included flights from our local airport down to London and onwards to JFK and five nights accommodation in a good hotel in a great location for the bargain price of £1500. A trip like this is never going to be super frugal and I know it’s not frugal at all to many of you but to me, it’s a good deal.
We also pre-booked tickets to a few things because (a) pre-booking often gets you a cheaper price than if you were to just turn up and pay on the door and (b) it’s easier to budget when we’re here if I don’t need to think about leaving money aside to pay for the big things we want to do and (c) whilst you can absolutely do New York on a complete budget and not do anything you need to pay for, I wanted the kids to experience as much as possible. I spent a lot of time planning and I like to think I’ve managed a great mix of lots of free things with the odd paid for activity. You’ll see the things we pre-booked in these posts but I’ll also probably share more about the ones we really enjoyed in a separate post.
Today, I’m going to share Day 1 of our trip with you…
Thanks to Google Maps we managed to find our way from our hotel on Lexington Avenue to St Patricks Cathedral on Fifth Avenue where we (by we, I mean me) spent a lovely half an hour wandering around the most beautiful building I’ve ever been inside of.
It’s completely free to explore and me and my camera thoroughly enjoyed ourselves while the kids sat in one of the pews and caught up on Snapchat and all things teenage. Even they were impressed with the beauty of it though and couldn’t resist a little wander themselves at one point.
From there, we headed to Trump Tower which is just along from the Cathedral and after going through a bag check and a pat down, we were allowed in. We ate breakfast in the Starbucks overlooking the entrance to the Tower which is, as you can imagine, over-ran with secret service and armed police. Not super cheap but not bad at all at $3.75 for a sausage and egg muffin each.
We then walked to Times Square which took about twenty minutes and from there we spent some time just wandering and taking in everything that is Times Square. It’s not my favourite place in New York as it’s much too busy and there’s just so much going on but it’s definitely a must see and the kids had a blast in the Hershey’s shop in particular where they were giving out free chocolate!
We then headed to the first of our pre-booked activities which was something we’d wanted to do last time we were here but never got around to – The Ride. It’s an interactive bus tour of the city pointing out the highlights in a fun way that I thought the kids would enjoy – to me I wanted to do it as I knew we’d never get around everything I wanted them to see on foot and an open-topped bus was out of the question as we’d freeze to death. I’ll definitely write about The Ride separately as we had so much fun and saw so much during the 75-minute tour but basically, you sit facing the windows rather than the front and see the sights through the full panoramic windows and roof.
After The Ride, we were a bit hungry so we went to Shake Shack for a late lunch. Shake Shack was somewhere that both kids really wanted to go to and we’d spotted how close it was to Times Square when we were on the bus tour so we walked there without even needing to use Google Maps. I’m not going to lie, it was ridiculously busy and the kids almost got rugby tackled to the ground by a young boy who wanted the same table they wanted while I was in the (very long) queue waiting for our food – they got to it first though so luckily we had somewhere to sit – lots didn’t. It was pretty cheap as far as lunches in New York go though and super filling so the $35 we spent in there to feed the three of us seemed like a good deal to me.
Next on our list was Ripleys Believe it or Not which we had tickets for after seeing an offer on their site for tickets to Ripleys plus one other NYC attraction for $50 per adult and $40 per child. Some of the attractions you can pair Ripleys with on this ticket are pretty expensive (Top of Rock, One World Observatory, Museum of Natural History etc.) so it’s well worth it if you’re planning on visiting one of the other places anyway.
Personally, I wasn’t sure what to make of Ripleys but the kids, Master Frugal especially, loved all of the quirky attractions in here. I’ll be having nightmares about ugly little shrunken heads and two-headed lambs for the foreseeable future though.
After Ripleys, we headed to the famous Carlos’ Bakery – even though we weren’t hungry after our Shake Shack lunch. It’s just that it was so close to Ripleys and we all love Cake Boss so we went in and bought cakes for later. It was everything you’d expect and after a short wait in the queue, we picked our cakes and headed back to the hotel via Times Square again.
We weren’t that hungry at tea-time so our Cake Boss cakes filled us up and I just popped to the shop next door to our hotel to get water and some fruit for snacks. At least that’s what I popped in for – these weird little sweets may have fallen into my basket along with some other random treats.
Day 1 – Money Spent
Breakfast at Starbucks $22 for muffins and drinks
Shake Shack $35
Carlos Bakery $13
Supermarket shop $20
Pre-booked The Ride
Pre-booked Ripleys as part of a duo-attraction ticket
I don’t think that’s a bad day budget-wise when you consider what we did and saw and how many things the kids got to tick off their New York bucket lists!
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