With covid vaccinations progressing at breakneck speeds, both in the USA and in the UK, there might be a very real chance that a summer holiday might become possible again. Both countries are in the global top 4 when it comes to vaccinations per capita, and it’s therefore not surprising that many look to the United States for their next holiday. And when it comes to the USA, few cities are more popular than New York. But how affordable is it?
Getting to New York: ESTA application
Before booking your flight tickets, the first thing you have to get sorted out is your ESTA application. This is basically your ticket into the United States, since travellers from the UK don’t need a visa to travel to the USA. They are part of the Visa Waiver Program, better known as the ESTA program. To get an ESTA, all you need to do is fill out the online application form. You will then receive a confirmation by e-mail once the ESTA has been approved. Unlike the visa, it is not stamped into the passport. It is instead digitally linked to your passport number. ESTAs are valid for two years, and allow you to stay in the USA for up to 90 days at a time.
Is New York expensive?
While extremely popular, New York has a reputation of being more expensive than your average holiday destination. It is often compared in price to London, with some even saying that London is the more expensive city for tourists. Of course, if you know your way around London, you would know it’s fairly easy to arrange a budget trip. The same applies to New York. If you know what you’re doing, chances are you’ll find it quite affordable.
Let’s start with the flight tickets, because there is a great deal of variability to be found here. Tickets can range from £250 to as much as £800 for a single flight. As most people know, when it comes to flight tickets the early bird gets the worm, and the earlier you book your ticket, the cheaper it’s going to be. If you don’t mind a (far) longer trip with several stopovers or transfers, prices for a ticket can get exceedingly low.
When it comes to New York, an additional factor is the airport you’re going to land at. Most flights arrive at the John F. Kennedy Airport, which most people take for granted. Instead, look for flights that land at Newark Airport in New Jersey. These flight tickets are often (a lot) cheaper.
Hotels and hostels
Accommodation is next. This is almost entirely based on your own preferences. You decide how much you want to spend. If you’re travelling on a tight budget, you’ll probably want to book a hostel or an Airbnb, with prices starting around £35-40 a night. With hostels, the sleeping areas are generally in dorms, and you will likely have to share features such as bathrooms.
Hotels in New York are a fair bit more expensive, with prices starting around £70 a night for the most basic hotels. This does give you some added luxury you won’t find in hostels. But you’re better off setting aside double that at minimum if you want a hotel with proper features and hygiene. If you’re not worried about money, you can look into boutique hotels, where prices start at around £400 a night.
Getting around New York
New York is a massive city, and traversing it by foot is virtually impossible. You’ll run out of time before even seeing half of it. Thankfully, public transportation in New York is extremely cheap. In New York specifically, the optimal way to get around is via the metro system, since it avoids the crowded streets above. For as little as £21 you can get an Unlimited MetroCard, granting you free access to the metro system for up to seven days.
Avoid taking the famous yellow cabs. While it may seem tempting as these are frequently featured in film, they can get rather pricey. They operate on various rules which tourists might not be aware of, such as higher rates for certain parts of the city. Using the metro is by far the cheaper choice, and you can even travel by train.
All in all, New York can be a very affordable holiday destination. There are many tourist traps for the inexperienced traveller, but if you know what you’re doing, New York is both affordable and a lovely city to visit!