Have you ever taken one of those quizzes that tell you what state you should move to? Which one fits your personality, has the weather you desire, and the activities you want to do? I have and I’ve taken them quite a bit because I’m waiting for the results to change. Every single one of them tells me that the city I need to be in is NYC. The quizzes aren’t telling me anything new. I already know this. New York City has been in my very soul since I was a child. My parents used to tell me I would hate it. “It’s dirty. Filthy! Too crowded. You’ll hate it.” But somehow I just knew I would love it, and I did! The first time I visited I fell in love and I just knew I wanted to be there. However, our finances tell me no. I can visit all I please, but sadly, living there is not in the cards right now. Even though I can’t live there, I’ve dreamed of sharing New York City with Johanna since she was a baby!
In September one of the many local homeschool facebook groups I’m in announced a group buy for tickets to see Charlie and the Chocolate Factory in NY. I was all over it! Not only did I love the book, but I loved the movie too. But to get to see it on BROADWAY? I’m in. So Johanna and I read the book, watched the movie, then packed our bags and headed to the big apple dragging the Mister and the baby with us!
Planning was a bit tricky because we were on a very strict budget and very little time. NYC overnight, but under 24hrs, for less than $300? Challenge accepted, and here’s how we did it:
1) See a broadway play, but in the middle of the week and get the group rate – We were able to get tickets in the back of the orchestra for less than half the original cost by going in with a group. They needed there to be at least 20 of us in order for us to get the group rate, and that was rather easy. We ended spending under $100 for two tickets!
2) Share a treat – I knew I wanted to take Johanna to the Sugar Factory when we went to NYC because it’s a chic place full of treats, just her style. But I also knew I didn’t want to spend a grip, so we shared a treat under $5 and enjoyed the cute little shop. It was actually super good!
3)Visit kid friendly stores, but look for really good sales – I know as a mom sometimes we really want to treat our kids even if our wallet protests, so when you go to the majorly cute stores in Times Square like M&M and Disney, plan ahead, go with a plan. I knew Johanna would want something out of the M&M store, so we made a cute bag of colorful M&M’s for half a pound, and put them in her M&M souvenir I bought her years ago when we got home. I also scoped out the Disney store before we came and happen to know that they were having a pretty decent sale. Turns out she didn’t want anything in there anyway, but I felt good going in knowing that I was prepared.
4)Enjoy the beauty of Times Square, it’s free! – Grab some lunch and take a seat in the middle of Times Square. I’ve never had a boring time in Times Square. There are always some characters (literally and figuratively) around there. While I grabbed a kabob from a street vendor, Johanna chose to get something from McDonald’s. We sat on a wall in the middle of TS and enjoyed watching about 8 Minnie Mouses, 2 Cookie Monsters, a Spiderman, Batman, Minion, 2 statue of liberties, and many more. Just a normal day in the city.
5)AirBNB, enough said – Our airbnb cost us $100 less than a hotel in the city would have. I chose for us to stay in Queens simply because I had never been there before. I always stay in the middle of TS or in Chelsea, and I wanted to do some place different. The organizer of the show tickets found an equally inexpensive airbnb in hell’s kitchen! As always, check the ratings and make sure to read all the details. Our airbnb was very nice and in a very chill neighborhood, just one block from the bus we took. It worked out incredibly well.
6)Choose one landmark to visit, and find a cheap way to do it – Johanna really wanted to see the statue of liberty. I knew that cruises to do so could be rather expensive so we were all set to take the ferry from lower Manhattan to Staten Island for just $5 each! While we wouldn’t be able to actually visit the Statue of Liberty, she would be able to see her fairly up close. However, as I was scouring the internet reading about parks and such in NYC, I found one about Liberty State Park and I thought that would be perfect instead, especially having the baby with us. The kids could play AND see the Statue of Liberty! So Thursday morning we found ourselves at the park with a pretty great view of her, and Johanna had a ball with her father in the park before we headed home.
I feel like we were able to pack a lot into our trip. I knew that this was not the trip to try to show her everything I love about New York, but it was enough to just get her feet wet. Enough to have her say “Mommy, when I become an adult, I’m moving to NY!”. You just don’t have any idea how sweet those words were to my ears.
Have you done New York on a very tight budget? What tips do you have to share?
To see our trip in action and for more tips, checkout our video on our Youtube channel!