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How much money do I need to travel to New York?

26th March 2020

Despite being on the opposite side of the world, New York holds a unique allure for Aussie travellers. The Big Apple is nestled in firmly at the top of most travellers bucket lists, as they dream of dodging the crowds in Times Square, strolling through Central Park, catching a show on Broadway or biting into a classic New York slice of pizza. 

As travellers plan their trip, and wondering how many $2 hot dogs is too many to eat in one day, most will stumble upon (and procrastinate over) the dreaded travel budget. New York certainly isn't the cheapest destination, and when you add in the AUD to USD exchange rate, tax and tipping, calculating your travel budget can be pretty tricky. 

Luckily for you, the team at Travel Money Oz have put together a nifty travel budget calculator that combines Numbeo data with the latest exchange rates to give you the most up to date idea of how much you'll spend when you’re in NYC. Before we dive into the calculator though, let's take a look at what you should include in your travel budget.

What goes into a travel budget for New York?


Flights will be a significant expense, especially with NYC being on the other side of the world and all. Expect to pay between $1200 (bargain) and $2500 (you're probably travelling in peak season) for your flights.

Once you arrive in NYC, you'll be looking at the following transport options:

  • Subway: If it's your first time in NYC, the tube may seem like a maze; however, it is one of the cheapest and quickest ways of getting around the city. Download the CityMapper app for help with routes, and grab a Metro Card from any subway booth or ticket machine to avoid having to buy single tickets for every trip. We recommend grabbing an unlimited weekly travel card for about $32USD, so you don't have to stress about topping up. It will give you access to subways across all of Manhatten and Brooklyn. 

  • Buses: If the Subway stops just that little bit too far from your destination, you can quickly grab a bus to take you the rest of the way. The MetroCard can be used on buses as well. 

  • Cabs: Who hasn’t dreamed of gracefully hailing a cab like Carrie Bradshaw in Sex n the City? If you would prefer to stay above ground, Yellow Cabs are always available. Just hail from the street and go from there. Cabs can be expensive and do require tips. It's also worth noting that if you grab one around Times Square, you will often be charged an extra 'tourist rate’.

  • Rideshare: A great alternative to cabs, apps like Uber allow you to book on your phone. Not only are they cheaper than cabs, but they don't require you to tip (it is given as an option rather than a necessity). 

  • Car hire: You can hire a car; however, NYC traffic is crazy, and the parking situation is not ideal, so we would not recommend it (no seriously, your sanity will thank us!). 


There's no point beating around the bush here - accommodation in New York is not cheap. Staying on Manhattan Island around any of the tourist areas (aka anywhere South, East or West of Central Park) is quite expensive. If you are hoping to travel on a budget, consider staying just off the Island in areas like Brooklyn or Queens. They are significantly cheaper, have a bustling food scene and are only a short subway ride away from Manhattan. 

If you do have some more cash to splash and are keen to stay in the action, expect to pay around the following. As you can imagine, prices will change with seasonality and will depend on where you stay. 

Hostel: 50-100 AUD per night
Budget hotel: 80 - 300 AUD per night
Airbnb: 100 - 1000+ AUD per night
Hotel: 250 - 6000+ AUD per night

When booking accommodation, consider the proximity to a subway station and whether it has a kitchen to cook your own meals. 


New York is incredibly multicultural, so you are bound to find a dish to satisfy any craving. With this in mind, make sure you try some of these classic NYC staples:

  • Street meat: hot dogs, kebabs, gyros and curries can all be purchased from curb side vendors. With hot dogs starting at $1USD, it's hard to go wrong. Sure, you can't be 100% sure what's in them, but that's part of the fun, right?
  • Bagels: a delicious breakfast or snack on the go. Apparently, NYC's water makes the bagels extra good? Who knows. What we do know is that you should try it with scallion cream cheese. Expect to pay between $2USD (plain bagel) and $10USD (bagel with the lot) for a delish breakfast.
  • Pizza: Now I had my doubts, but Pizza in New York really is THAT good. You can grab a slice for as little as $1; however, you really must invest in a full 'pie' (that's what they call a whole pizza) at least once while you're over there.
  • Pastrami on rye: a classic, meat-filled dish that is perfect for fuelling your galavanting  adventures across the city. Expect to pay around $10USD for a decent sanga.
  • NY Cheesecake: Whether it's from a local bakery or a large patisserie, New York Cheesecake is the perfect way to top off a meal. Slices range from $3-10USD.  

For all of your other meal requests, just jump on Google and see what the locals recommend. Whether it's ramen, burgers, curry, Italian or doughnuts, read the reviews and go hunting for the ideal meal. Trust me, it's worth a trek across the city. 


Before arriving in the Big Apple, you must understand this: you will never have enough time to see and experience everything the city has to offer. Tourist hot spots and attractions aside, the city itself oozes an air of excitement and adventure - simply walking through the different areas, looking in shops and people watching is enough to fill a week. It's worth creating a list of everything you want to see, grouping the activities based on their location and then planning out your days from there. 

If you are somehow stuck on ideas of things to do, we recommend the following:

  • Visit any of the many, many, many museums. Popular choices include The Guggenheim, the Metropolitan Museum, and the Museum of Natural History (aka the home of Night at the Museum). 
  • Check out Madison Square Garden. It's free to enter, however, tickets to shows will cost a little more.
  • Speaking of shows, make sure you swing by Broadway at some point. If you want to see a particular show, it's worth booking in advance. Otherwise, try your hand at a ticket lottery or visit the ticket booth for any last-minute deals.
  • Wise up at the New York City Library.
  • Pay your respects at Ground Zero and the 9/11 museum. It is a heavy and sombering few hours, however, it is well worth the experience.
  • Walk or bike through Central Park. It's huge and filled with cool nooks and crannies to explore.
  • Soak up the atmosphere in Times Square and indulge in some of the world’s best people watching.
  • If you're visiting in winter, make sure you see the Rockefeller tree and go ice skating at one of the parks.
  • Battle the crowds and do a spot of shopping on 5th Avenue.
  • Walk across the Brooklyn Bridge to get a great view of the Manhattan skyline, Lady Liberty and, of course, check out Brooklyn!
  • Walk and eat and walk and eat. The city is best seen on foot, and you need a snack in hand at all times to ensure you're properly fuelled, right?

Pre-travel expenses

Aussie's need an ESTA when visiting the USA. It is $14USD and can be applied for online. We recommend applying as soon as possible to ensure it is issued in time. Also stop by  your doctors to make sure you're up to date with any relevant travel immunisations. Further to this, it's in the best interest of all travellers to invest in a comprehensive travel insurance policy, regardless of where you are visiting. 

How much does a trip to New York cost?


Step 1

Enter your destination (New York)
Let us know how long you'll be away
Choose your currency. In this case, it will either be AUD or USD.
Get ready to bite into the Big Apple! You've officially started your travel budget. 

Step 2

Are you planning on eating out for every meal or grabbing a few snacks and ingredients to cook from the supermarket? Here you need to estimate how much you plan to spend on food. Remember to put yourself in a holiday mindset - you're probably gonna opt for a slice of New York Pizza over a salad from the supermarket. 

Step 3

In this section, estimate how much you plan on shopping while in New York. Will you be splurging in SoHo, tap-tap-tapping your Travel Money Oz Currency Pass on Fifth Avenue, or hitting up one of the many outlet malls? While the US is generally cheaper than Australia, be sure to take the AUD to USD exchange rate into account.

Step 4

This is for all of your transport outside of flights, so the subway, buses, cabs and rideshares. 

Step 5

The hard work is done! Here you'll find a simple layout of your planned expenses in both Australian and US dollars. From here you can either go back and edit, or start saving for your holiday!

It's important to note here that this only accounts for your most basic expenses. You'll need to add in travel insurance and other daily expenses. It's also worth having a bit of wiggle room in the kitty for unexpected costs.

New York Budget Examples

Here are some examples of what the bones of your travel budget would look like. Please note all of these examples are based on seven nights of accommodation and are quoted in Aussie dollars. Prices will, of course, vary with seasonality and availability. 

Couples trip (or girls weekend away with your bestie!)

This couple is spending a week shopping and indulging in New York's restaurant scene. They are taking the 'open wallet and empty stomach' approach to their holiday.


$1265 per person

Sydney to New York return with Qantas.  



One-bedroom apartment in Hell’s Kitchen.


$400 per day

A lazy breakfast in bed before days spent sampling New York’s latest culinary wonders. 


$500 per day

This couple plans to do a lot of shopping, with a few days exploring the city’s main attractions and seeing a Broadway show. 

Total for couple 


XOXO Gossip Girl. 


Family getaway

Mum, Dad and the two kids are keen to see New York’s most family-friendly attractions. Think museums, Time’s Square, Central Park and a few hot dogs 



Sydney to New York return with Qantas.



One bedroom apartment overlooking Central Park near the Upper East Side. 


$250 per day

Breakfast and snacks from the supermarket, with a few dinners out and, of course, a hot dog and pizza slice or two. 


$200 per day

There are plenty of free or low-cost attractions to explore while in NYC!



The kids won’t stop raving about their epic holiday to New York. Coolest parents ever. 


Solo traveller

This lucky vagabond is keen to see if New York can be done on a budget. We definitely think so!



Sydney to New York return with United Airlines.  



Hostel bunk near Broadway. 


$60 per day

Most of your meals will come from the supermarket, however, you can splurge on a few drinks and some pizza and bagels every now and then. 


$40 per day

Entry into a few attractions, with most of your time spent exploring the streets and soaking up the iconic New York vibe. 



New York on a budget? Too easy! 


Last-minute tips

  • New York is very card friendly, with almost everywhere accepting card. Load up your Travel Money Oz Currency Pass with USD before you leave to lock in a great rate and avoid stressing about it once you arrive. 
  • If paying by card, make sure you choose to pay in the local currency (USD) to avoid extra fees.
  • ATM’s are easy to find throughout the city, and some even have no extra fees charged by the ATM provider.
  • Tipping is a must in NYC (and the rest of America). Between 15-20% is standard depending on the level of service you received. Keep smaller notes on hand to make tipping a breeze
  • When paying with a card, they will take your cash or card first. From there they will return the bill with your card and change and you can either leave the tip (cash) or write your tip on the receipt. This will then be processed after you leave.
  • Tax is added on at the register, so the price you see on the tag isn’t the final price you will pay.
  • New York certainly isn’t cheap, so keep an eye out for happy hours and meal deals
  • That said, it’s very easy to get street meat and pizza slices for between $1 and $5.
  • You can save money on attractions by booking in advance online.
  • Everything is more expensive around Times Square and Midtown. Consider staying out in Queens or Brooklyn for cheaper accommodation and food. It’s only a Subway ride away.
  • Research your 'per day' budget and include the things you want to do. Once you know the costs, you have a savings goal to work towards.
  • Take advantage of Travel Money Oz’s Best Price Guarantee. If you find a better price from a competitor, we will beat it*.
  • Hostels are a great way to save cash and meet like-minded travellers.
  • Check out reviews if you think something is too good to be true. Chances are it might be.
  • Tourist attractions will always have higher prices, especially in more popular cities.
  • Don't forget to factor in pre-travel costs like travel insurance, immunisations and visas.
  • Sign up for Rate Alerts. We'll let you know when the AUD is doing well against the GBP so you can purchase and maximise your travel money.

Flight costs are based on search from www.flightcentre.com.au and are indicative costs only for travel dates 4 - 11 November 2020. Prices were sourced on March 22nd 2020^. Accommodation costs are based on an average per night price for budget, moderate or luxury hotels, as indicated in the table. ~Food based on the average cost of 1 coffee, 1 fast food meal and 1restaurant meal per person, per day. COST COMPARISON TABLE: All costs are based on estimated approximate costs from major metropolitan cities. "From" costs indicate costs that start from the indicated price and may be higher than shown. Average prices indicate a typical estimated cost you would pay for the indicated item. Prices may vary from time to time, and in different places within New York. This blog is provided for information only and does not take into consideration your objectives, financial situation or needs. You should consider whether the information and suggestions contained in any blog entry are appropriate for you, having regard to your own objectives, financial situation and needs. While we take reasonable care in providing the blog, we give no warranties or representations that it is complete or accurate, or is appropriate for you. We are not liable for any loss caused, whether due to negligence or otherwise, arising from use of, or reliance on, the information and/or suggestions contained in this blog.