What’s the most economical trip you’ve ever taken?
I have to brag a little here.
I just took a 3-night trip to New York and spent only $410. Here’s how the costs broke down:
Flight (DFW to LGA): $213
There’s no doubt about it. I lucked out on airfare. To my credit, I booked a few days before the 21-day window. And I was flexible in terms of airline, layovers, and arrival times.
But, in general, fares dropped significantly in August for some reason. And I just lucked out. I don’t think I’ve flown this close to $200 in 5 years. Chalk this one up as a positive sign we’re still in a bit of a recession.
Edit: By the way, I booked direct through AA.com.
Room (3 Nights through Airbnb.com): $170
Having stayed in NYC before, I knew frugal travel to New York City wasn’t going to be easy. The biggest cost of the trip was going to be hotel.
I had to find a way to make this less expensive. About a month ago I stumbled upon a blog post by Monevator regarding a site called CrashPadder. It’s a social travel website that connects frugal travelers with hosts that want to make extra money by renting out a room. Sort of a more capitalist version of couch-surfing.
NYC rooms were few and far between on CrashPadder, but I stumbled upon the U.S. equivalent, Airbnb.com, and found tons of places to stay in NYC.
Airbnb.com is a peer-to-peer room/house/couch renting service that connects homeowners (or tenants) with short-term renters. Airbnb provides an alternative to hotels for travelers interested in a different experience. Get $20 towards your first Airbnb stay.
Airbnb also provides homeowners (or tenants) with a great way to make extra money with their extra room, couch, or their entire place when they are out of town. According to the Airbnb website, there are currently over 22,700 places/rooms/couches to rent in New York City through their service.
After some trial and error, and getting comfortable with the fact that I’d be staying in someone’s spare room (you can rent shared rooms, private rooms, or the entire place), I booked a place. $66.67 a night, plus $20 for Airbnb.com’s cut.
After I booked I was offered $50 off of my stay if I listed my own place on Airbnb.com. I quickly took advantage of this promotion. So my total ended up being $170.
Metro Card (7 Days): $27
I love traveling in the city because you can take advantage of public transportation. The NYC subways are the best. Since I was there for 4 days, I knew I’d need the 7-day, all-you-can-ride card, which costs a mere $27.
I was able to take the bus from LaGuardia Airport to the subway metro line and from there I could go anywhere in the city I wanted. Taxis are the quickest way to kill your efforts towards frugal travel to new york city.
Since I live in Texas and in the burbs I welcome the chance to “live in the city” for a few days and do the subway thing. Part of the joy in the trip for me is experiencing this.
That brings my total to around $410 ($27 + $170 + $213). But I forgot to mention that I just started using my new cash back small business credit card. So I will receive another $5 back on my spending. Making my trip $405.
Frugal Can Be Fun
Okay. It’s clear that I saved some money. But did I have any fun? Yes. I was there for a conference and got to spend some much needed time with other finance bloggers.
We spent most of our time talking about finance and blogging (what else?) there in the conference hotel (bonus: free wifi included). This is what I love doing so it was well worth the expense. But even if I’d been there for sight-seeing, NYC has plenty of frugal options for a visit.
So my expenses wouldn’t balloon up that much, and frugal travel to new york city isn’t impossible. Two of my personal favorites are the Staten Island Ferry (free) and the Central Park Zoo (only $8).
Share your frugal traveler story in the comments below.