Wander or Bust is an Elite Daily travel series that follows young women all over the globe to record their journeys as they experience the thrill of the far-flung and unknown.
They'll track their budgets, where they stay, where they eat and drink, and where they took that amazing Instagram that got them ~maximum exposure.~ The internet is full of travel advice, but none from women just like you. Read on for the tips no one else gives you, and when in doubt, get on the plane.
Here's Kylie Fitch's Wander Or Bust guide to New York City.
My Name: Kylie Fitch
What I Do: Creative writer, Fortune 500 marketing team
Where I Live: Salt Lake City, Utah (USA)
Where I Went: New York City, New York (USA)
How Long I Stayed: 7 days, 6 nights
My Spending Style: Occasionally indulgent.
Where I Got My Recommendations:
I have a lot of friends in the city who show me their curated favorite spots. Beyond that, I’ll browse the app Townske for guides written by locals and travelers who are like-minded to me. It’s also fun to see what a little exploring with geotags on Instagram will reveal to you.
Exchange Rate At Time Of Travel: $1 USD = $1 USD (as we're in the same country).
What That Looks Like IRL: $50 USD = $50 USD
Preferred Payment Method: Debit and credit cards, but always carry a little cash on hand.
Phone Bill: Same.
Mode of Transport: Airplane
Extra Costs: First checked bag with Delta is $25. I use the trains religiously while I’m in NYC, so a weekly unlimited MTA card costs $31.
Transport Total: $381
Accommodation: With friends
I stayed at my friend's place instead of getting a hotel, but a standard room in a chain hotel would cost you a little more than $200/night. Trendier boutique options start over $300 (check out the Ace or one of the Arlo hotels). Your cheapest option is an AirBNB in the outer boroughs.
Location: Washington Heights, Manhattan
Extra Costs: Time. Traveling from Washington Heights to get anywhere more central in the city takes nearly an hour every time. When I’d leave for the day, I’d try to have everything I needed with me. There's no turning back if it means you’re losing precious hours in your day.
Would I Recommend It To Someone Else:
If friends will take you in, I recommend navigating New York that way because it’s more fun and friendlier on the wallet.
Accommodation Total: $0
Breakfast-Lunch Cost: $30/day
I'd often eat one meal instead of getting two separate ones, otherwise this cost might be larger.
Dinner Cost: $40/day — with drinks included.
Average Total Cost: $70/day
Tip Situation: Yes, 20 percent for good service is without question.
Food Situation: It's NYC. If you don't live there, you're eating out every day for your meals!
Favorite Restaurant: Tortilla Flats
Location: 767 Washington St, New York, NY 10014
It’s no-frills Mexican food for a good price, the bartenders are friendly and make a stiff margarita, the place is covered head-to-toe in fun decor, and most nights offer a fun activity like Bingo or Hula Hooping competitions.
Food Total: $450
There's every scene imaginable in NYC: personality-fueled dive bars to fancy nightclubs and everything in between.
What People Wear Out:
It’s fully dependent on where you’re going. Like most places, clubs require dressing up, but the bars are far more relaxed. Regardless, I like to rock that in-between look through and through.
Average Cost Of A Pint: $7
Extra Cost To Know About:
Some places in New York have covers and if you're not looking to take the subway in the wee hours of the morning, a taxi/Uber may be in order.
Last Call: 4 a.m.
Average Total Cost Of A Night Out: $40/night
Cheapest Bar I'd Actually Go Back To: 169 Bar
Going Out Total: $175 (as I didn't go out every night).
What I Spent A Lot On That Was Totally Worth It:
I’m a big, big fan of museums. Most museums in NYC are donation-based, but the MoMA is not. Admission to the museum is $25 and well worth it. The rotating exhibit on the top floor is always entrancing, and the permanent collections hold a lot of famous pieces worth seeing in person.
What I Spent A Lot On That Was Totally Not Worth It:
I really enjoyed everything I paid money for — but I know some of the larger tourist traps can run you a lot of money, especially tours that take you to the top of New York City's buildings.
What I Spent Little Or No Money On That Was Awesome:
There’s a small, underrated bar in Bushwick called Jupiter Disco. It’s a super intimate, dimly lit space with great drinks and a killer sound system. Think sci-fi vibes mixed with dystopian bunker to help paint an accurate picture.
Favorite Thing I Did, Regardless Of Cost:
Tickets weren’t terribly cheap, but I went to see Odesza at the Barclays Center. A great place to check off the list for music experiences. The subway is filled to the brim with concert-goers before and afterwards and it turns into one giant moving party.
Hidden Gem I Found:
Everybody is after New York’s best bagel. After searching high and low for many years, I finally found myself in a little storefront called Barney Greengrass. The place is an institution. If you go, you absolutely must try the bagel and lox, along with a black and white cookie.
The Photo I Took That Got The Most Attention:
Excursions/Extras Total: $125
General Shopping: $0
I didn't do much shopping! I mostly brought back experiences, memories, and photos.
Souvenirs/Shopping Total: $0
New York is the type of city you have to throw yourself into unapologetically. Don’t count calories, don’t sweat losing a little bit of beauty sleep, and don’t overthink spending a couple extra dollars for that cocktail on the menu that’s calling your name.
Best New York City Hack:
Really, just suck it up and take the subway even when you’d prefer not to. You will save gobs of money that way.
Advice For Anyone Traveling Alone:
Never forget to stay alert as a solo traveler, no matter where you are. However, New York is a surprisingly safe city. It takes a really shady, late-night situation for you to end up somewhere where you’re not surrounded by plenty of people.
Total Trip Cost: $1,075
Worth It? Always. NYC is an unparalleled experience.