Traveling to New York without spending your life savings? Yes, it can be done:
Where to Crash
Unless you’re planning to camp out in Central Park — an illegal but potentially rewarding proposition — you will want to organize a place to stay. Ideally, you’ll check out CouchSurfing.org, the social-networking site for travelers, where members offer their couches, floors and even spare bedrooms to other like-minded people — free. In New York, there are at least 3,700 members — TV producers, graduate students, cheese-shop managers — who not only can give you a place to rest your head but can also provide expert advice on navigating the city. If you’re skeptical but curious, check out one of their regular weekly get-togethers at downtown bars; check www.couchsurfing.org/meetings.html for times and locations.
If you like the idea of staying in someone’s home but feel more secure paying for the privilege, check out AirBnB.com, which operates like a cross between CouchSurfing and the vacation-rentals section of CraigsList.org (itself a good resource). Apartments range from couches to spare bedrooms, with prices as low as $40 a night; I recently tested AirBnB in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn and had a wonderful time.
Many of the sites linked to in this article are useful for traveling cheaply anywhere in the US, or around the world. A great resource!