As mentioned previously, my Christmas gift to the kids was a trip to New York City! And we have just returned, it was so much fun! And I’m pretty proud of how we spent 4 nights and 5 days there relatively inexpensively. (I mean, it was downtown Manhattan over New Years Eve.)
Cost of the trip
Let’s break down the costs of the trip:
- Hotel – Hyatt downtown Manhattan just two blocks from Times Square, two rooms – $3,998
- Train – Amtrak roundtrip from our tiny town to Penn Station (purchased 7 tickets but only used 6) – $1,876
- Transportation – 2 Uber rides, one to the hotel from Penn Station and one back to Amtrak on the day of departure – $57
- Food – budgeted $200 per day, but was able to keep it a bit lower – $679
- Entertainment – Big Bus city tour, 1 day pass – $270
- Refund using travel insurance – able to get a portion of the costs of the trip back since my ex did not go – ($400)
Total cost: $6,480
How we kept costs down
I realize this is still a lot of money. We are extremely blessed to have been able to do this and cash flow it. (This is especially mention able since my ex had committed to helping financially with the trip and ended up not doing that so it fell to me.)
But we did keep it under control with a couple of things (and granted this works because my kids are older and all work:)
- I let kids know about this present almost a year ago. This gave them time to make sure they could get the time off work, most of them paid, and to save spending money.
- Expectations were set early on that I would only be covering one meal a day. Breakfast was included with the room and then we planned a “linner” together as family depending on the days itinerary.
- Entertainment was selected to give us the most bang for our buck. The on and off option of the City Bus tour allowed us to see all the major highlights without the transportation costs.
- Googling “free things to do in NYC” and “cheap places to eat in NYC” a lot over the year proved to be invaluable.
- Good tennis shoes were a must have for all because we walked and walked and walked. This is my favorite way to see any city and the kids are used to it. We see more, get more photo ops (social media kids, you know?), and save a ton on transportation costs with 6 of us.
Do it again?
I asked the kids the first night at dinner about their opinion of the train trip. We were on there for 17 hours straight with a 1 hour break in DC. It was unanimous that train travel is good. Yeah!
Everyone had a great time in NYC. We spent about 1/2 of each day together touring and eating and then everyone had ample free time to do their own thing. Win-win! I’m already working on a plan for a Christmas gift trip for next year. And I think the kids are excited about the possibility.
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