Recently, Ty and I visited New York City. He was there for work and the only reason I got to go along is because we found incredible deals on airfare and lodging. I’m talking under $100 round trip flights and $40 a night for accommodations. Can you say a steal? Here’s how we did it.
- Tuesday 11/3 Chicago ORD 7:15 am > New York City LGA 10:30 am $40.10 via American
- Thursday 11/5 New York City LGA 9:59 pm > Chicago ORD 11:13 pm $58.10 via Spirit
Total cost for each round trip ticket: $98.20 (x 2 = $196.40)
For this particular trip, we used Expedia.com to find our flights. What I like about Expedia is that it will search multiple airlines to find you the best deal. If you noticed, we flew American there and Spirit back. (And surprisingly the American flight was cheaper than Spirit, a budget airline!)
We bought the tickets on October 4th, almost exactly one month before our departure. Expedia also has a 24 hour free cancellation policy which is great for someone like me who is obsessed with getting the best price. If I check the next day and find the ticket for cheaper, I can cancel and re-buy it at a lower fare!
There are three reasons I believe these tickets were such a great deal.
- We flew during the week. We left on Tuesday and came back on Thursday. Weekday travel tends to be much cheaper than flying on a Friday or Sunday.
- We flew out of large cities. I’m from North Dakota. I can find tickets to Europe cheaper than flights back home. Because Chicago and New York are both high traffic airports, the whole supply and demand thing comes into play, making for less expensive tickets.
- We were flexible. We flew on two different airlines and we were open to the time of day for our flights. Luckily for us, we wanted the early morning flight on Tuesday and late night flight on Thursday, which also happened to be the best price.
Have you heard of Airbnb? It’s all the rage these days. Basically, individual people rent out their own places at a price of their choosing. You can get a whole house, an entire apartment, or just a room. However much space you need wherever in the world at whatever budget, you can probably find something!
Ty and I opted for just a room, a very pink room, to be exact. It was essentially like an upgraded (and cheaper) hostel. The room was in a 3 bedroom apartment and the other 2 rooms were also occupied by Airbnb users. We had a shared kitchen and bathroom. Ty and I figured we wouldn’t be spending much time in the apartment, so we didn’t care if we had to share. And we were right! We were only in the place long enough to sleep.
If you’re questioning our choice for accommodations, this might change your mind… Total cost? $81. That’s just $40 per night! We spent two nights in the pink room and it was totally worth it. You can’t even find a hostel for $20 per person a night!
Why was it so cheap?
- We stayed in a shared apartment. This is obviously cheaper than a private space.
- We stayed outside of downtown. We decided to stay in Astoria, a neighborhood about 20 minutes by subway to Midtown. It was no big dig deal for us to hop on public transit to get where we wanted since this is what we do every day in Chicago.
- We used a coupon code. I found an Airbnb referral link for $20 off our stay. Score!
Want your own Airbnb coupon code? Here’s my referral link for $20 off your first booking!
In total, we each spent $196.40 for our two flights and $81 for lodging. That’s $277.40. Less than $150 each for airfare and lodging for 3 fulls days in NYC? I’ll take it!
Budget Travel Tip
Take the earliest flight available on your way to your destination and the latest flight back. That way you get nearly full days of visiting without having to pay for an extra night of lodging!
Related: 15 Tips for Traveling on a Budget
What’s your best budget travel tip?