I wrote a blog entry on how we watched eleven (11) Broadway shows with our 4 kids during our 7-day stay in NYC without buying tickets from scalpers, Stubhub, VividSeats, TKTS, or Craigslist.  IMG_3035When it comes to getting around New York City, I’m a huge proponent of using public transportation. In my past visits to the city, I’ve used many cabs, Uber rides, Towne Cars/Limo, an SUV, subway trains, and buses. However, now that there were six of us on this trip, it would be a bit costly to get around by catching a cab, or Uber, or private car. So this next blog is dedicated to how we got around New York City on a budget. IMG_1447
Prior to our trip, I had already envisioned that we would be avoiding transportation that would be quite costly. After all, the streets and avenues of NYC are prone to be quite congested with traffic. I decided that we would use public transportation, and mainly use the train or the subway.IMG_1386
From the airport alone, a taxi cab that fits four could cost you around $52 plus toll and tip (so we’re talking over $60 one-way). Knowing that there were six of us, a regular car would not work. We would need a minivan or an SUV to get us from the airport to the city. To get a bigger vehicle in itself would cost extra.IMG_1391
I decided that the best way for us to go about this was to ride the subway. There’s a Metro card (a transportation card that’s good for using the subway and bus system). In our case, we availed of using the Unlimited 7-day pass. It was perfect since we were in the city for seven days. The pass in itself was worth $32/person + $1.00 for a new Metro card. So for eactransportation201111metrocard__4h of us, we spent $33/person. You can pay cash, but you know me, I used my points earning card, my Chase Sapphire Reserve which got 3 points per dollar spent on travel related expense, or we could’ve also used our Chase Sapphire Preferred which also gives 2 points per dollar on travel-related expenses.
One of the agents at the station advised us that Evan could ride for free so we ended up buying five Metro cards for a total of $165. Does that seem like a lot? If you do not use the Metrocard, then yes. But, in our case, we used it whenever we could. If we didn’t use the unlimited pass, each ride per person would cost us $2.75. And remember, we were in NYC for 7 days, and we used that to its full potential.
If you were coming from the airport and you want to get to the nearest subway train station, you have to take an AirTrain. The fee to take the AirTrain is $5/person. It gave us access from JFK to Jamaica Station (just a few minutes ride from JFK). From Jamaica Station, we boarded an E subway train that took us directly to the city. On our first day, because we’re theatre nerds, we opted to head straight from the airport directly to the Theatre District. It was a 40-45 minute ride, a very smooth train ride.
Since we flew on a red-eye flight, some of us were able to close our eyes and slept for a bit during the train ride.
IMG_2475We got out of West 50th Street Station, and walked down to West 45th Street and headed straight to Music Box Theatre. The box office openeIMG_2476d at 10am, and when we got there at 10:20am, there was no longer a line, and to our surprise there were two tickets available to Dear Evan Hansen that evening for face value. Yessss! Bought the tickets and our Spring Breakcation was off to a great start.
IMG_1580What I love about New York City, in Manhattan in particular, is its accessibility to public transportation system. When we stayed at the Park Hyatt New York, all we had to do was to take the N, R, or the W train and we got out of 57th Street, right outside Carnegie Hall. Our hotel was just a couple of hundred yards away.
During our stay at Westin’s Element Times Square West on West 39th Street, the nearest train station to us was the Port Authority Bus Terminal (a hub for trains and buses that connects you in and out of New York City). It was only a block away from our hotel.
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I’d like to think that the kids didn’t mind taking the subway. We all gave them their own Metro card and they learned how to swipe the card in a proper way which allowed them entry to the station. For Evan, since he did not need a card, all he had to do was go under the turnstile and made his way in with no problem .
If there was ever a problem with taking the train, it must’ve have happened on our first and last day in the city. We had five carryon luggage and backpacks. Not all of the stations had access to an elevator or escalator. We had to do it the old-fashioned way, we carried our luggage up and down the stairs. I laughed inside because my trainer at the gym would’ve been proud. One of the group exercises he showed was the suitcase squat. You grab 2 dumbbells or kettle bells and you squat. That’s exactly what happened. I had my own real-life workout without going to the gym.
Fitbit went to work…Fitbit went to work a lot in New York. Whenever I’m at home, I’d be lucky to get 10,000 steps per day. In the six full days when we were in New York, we walked 115,985 steps, an average of 19,330 steps per day. Our biggest day was on Monday when we went all over town all the way to Staten Island and back to Manhattan and towards One World Trade Center, and then walked around West Village, then back to Times Square. We walked close to 25,000 steps. That was a long, very long day.
What do our overall stats look like for New York City, to Niagara Falls, and Toronto?
  • 11 – travel days
  • 161,853 miles – # of steps in NYC and Canada
  • 14,713 miles – average # of steps per day
  • 71.5 miles  – # of miles walked
  • 6.5 miles  – average # of miles walked per day
Our plan was to also visit the Statue of Liberty. However, Einstein here did not book in advance, therefore, we didn’t get to visit the statue up close. But, of course, there was a back-up plan….ride the Staten Island Ferry. We rode this ferry nearly three years ago when we first brought Ethan and Madison to the city. The ferry leaves from Lower Manhattan, and it takes you on 25-30 minute ride towards Staten Island. The ride in itself was free of charge.IMG_1322
As the ferry departs Manhattan, if you sit on the right hand side, you will get a good glimpse of the Manhattan skyline, you then pass and see the Statue of Liberty from a great distance, and before you know it you’ve already made it to Staten Island. You have an option to get off the ferry, and go to Staten Island.
IMG_1301However, many ferry riders (tourists) get off the ferry, and take the next ferry ride back to Manhattan. All in all, we allotted one full hour for this round trip ferry boat ride.
So, yes! This family did NOT need to use a car rental, a cab, Uber, or any expensive mode of transportation. We used our legs a LOT to get us around NYC, and many thanks to the the public transportation system, it was and will always be my preferred way of getting around New York.img_2291-1

To take advantage of credit card deals that will give you lots of bonus point for travels and trips, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is a perfect starter card that could easily get you 2 FREE roundtrip tickets from anywhere in the US to NYC or Hawaii, or just about anywhere. It’s also good for anywhere in the world.

Another card that I love is the American Express SPG – which in our case, gave us 5 free nights in NYC’s Westin Element Times Square West.

mobile_prem_heroAnother card for FREE hotel stays is the Marriott Rewards
Lastly, for more FREE hotel stays, the American Express Hilton Honors card where you can earn 80,000 bonus points – great for Hilton brand hotels worldwide. hilton-hhonors



4 thoughts on “How we got around New York City on a budget (no cabs, no Uber, no car rentals, etc.)”
    1. Yeah….riding the subway, once you get the hang of it, is the best way to get around, especially when on a budget. And I do agree about getting in and out of the airport to the city……with traffic, oh man….forget it!!! LOL

  1. Thank you for sharing! I’ll be in New York next month and will definitely be depending on the public transportation and the train! So glad you guys had a blast!

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