Monday, December 21, 2015

Knoxville to New York City for less than $350

Never underestimate the potential of budget travel. My recent cheap trip from Knoxville to New York City cost less than $350. I could only be gone from work from Monday to Friday. The challenge was to go round trip  from Knoxville to New York City in a five day week and have fun, on a budget. Some people said that it couldn't be done, but I live to prove naysayers wrong. I went round trip from Knoxville to New York City on less than $350 including transportation, lodging, food and souvenirs.

If I can go to NYC for less than $350, you can too. This is how I did it.

Bus stop NYC
Transportation is usually the most expensive part of a trip. The cheap transportation winner was Megabus. If you've not read about how I scored two spectacularly cheap tickets from Knoxville to New York City for $20 then you should read that next. Here's the link

The bus departure from Knoxville at 11:50 p.m. on a Monday. We arrived in New York City at 4:30 pm the next day (Tuesday). That was the only night that we needed to spend the night out. The hotel that I chose was on Long Island and near family.

My friend and I walked the three blocks to Penn Station and bought off-peak tickets for the Long Island Railroad. Since the complimentary hotel shuttle was on an "on call" system, there was no need to leave the city at a particular time. We had several hours for sightseeing (more about the sights in a minute).

We used a taxi a couple of times but mostly we hoofed it around New York City. Foot transportation isn't simply cheap, it's the best we get a city. The only times that we used a taxi was when what we wanted to see was too far to walk, or when we were under time pressure.

Sightseeing Tuesday night included Times Square, Herald Square and got lost in Macy's a few times. Please don't laugh. The store is nine stories high and takes up an entire city block. There is an elevator wall and several escalators.

An extremely helpful employee assisted us in finding a food court there in Macy's. We grabbed a cheap snack there before hoofing it over to Penn Station again. How about a bagel, cream cheese and two drinks for less than $5.00? I'm pretty sure I paid more in Knoxville, but maybe not.

The hotel we stayed in was on Long Island and close to family. What I wanted an a clean room, free transportation to and from the train depot, free breakfast and free WiFi. Ideally, the shuttle would take us somewhere besides the train station.

That's not too much to ask is it?

I found it. TownePlace Suites by Mariott on Long Island had the total package. It costs us only $189.77 with tax to get everything we needed. This price was better than or comparable to those that I looked at near Penn Station. It was relatively close to my cousins and the shuttle driver even took me to pick up takeout from a local restaurant. How's that for cool?

Woman with shopping bags in front of signMy cousins picked us up from the hotel the next day (Wednesday). My aunt kindly bought lunch for my friend, cousins and myself at a lovely restaurant. I hated it when we said good-bye at the train station later that afternoon. We enjoyed a beautiful day together! Hopefully we can do it again soon!

We had the cheap trip from Knoxville to New York City because of discounts and the cost and timing of the bus tickets. Discounts included 10% at the Hard Rock for AAA and finding a bus tour with an online discount of 50%.  

Despite spending so little left me feeling empowered. Not deprived. For less than $350, I saw many sights and had a good time.

Tuesday evening and all day on Wednesday were spent in New York before we had to leave very early on Thursday morning. The amount of time is similar to weekend tourists who arrive on Friday evening, spend Saturday and leave early Sunday morning.

Not only was going from Knoxville to New York City a cheap trip, but the bus didn't have any of the TSA hassles that airline travelers have to deal with. Traffic was a problem that someone else had to deal with. We just sat back, chatted about our adventure and enjoyed the ride.

Is this kind of budget travel for you? Tell me what you think by leaving a comment below.

Here is my cheap trip breakdown:
  • $20 Megabus Ticket
  • $190 Room
  • $33.56 Meals not taken out of cash (1 lunch was a gift.) $33.56
  •      Houligans $13.59
  •      Hard Rock $19.97
  • $11.10 Transportation not taken out of cash
  • $24 One tour ticket
  • $35 Gas to/from bus
  • $8.00 Fees
  • $100 Cash for incidentals such as:
  •      Souvenirs (Cash)
  •      Postcards and postage (Cash)
  •      Miscellaneous snacks etc. (Cash)
  • - $75 Unspent cash in pocket upon return 
  • Total spent: $346.66
Note: None of the prices in the list were shared expenses. Hubby wasn't able to come, so my friend agreed took his place. It didn't seem right for her to pitch in on the room and bus tickets. I think she spent less than I did! Who goes from Knoxville to New York City on less than $350? We do!

Now that you know our secrets, you can too.