Report from New York City
A friend who visited New York last fall reported that it is still entirely possible to visit without spending a fortune, despite the fact that this is a notoriously pricey destination. She travelled by Greyhound bus from Toronto, and returned via West Jet. In New York, she stayed in a shared apartment she found through http://www.airbnb.com, and found it satisfactory.
"The Airbnb site was a little tricky. I didn't notice at first that there were three levels of accommodation, so was only looking at the default which was apartments and houses, where prices were similar to hotels. There were two other levels also--rooms, and shared accommodation. These offered more selections at lower prices. I chose a room in an apartment on the Lower East Side, near the subway and Chinatown. It was sparsely appointed but clean, quiet and secure. However, I could hear trains on the Manhattan Bridge nearby, which I enjoyed. The comments I found for my choice were accurate."
She booked the bus trip through a Website called http://www.wanderu.com. She chose an overnight bus via Buffalo. "The driver verified everyone's border crossing ID with their ticket while boarding. When we got to the border at Fort Erie, there was a short wait at customs and luggage was off-loaded for inspection. I travelled with just a carry-on, so I had very little wait time (smart girl.)
"The culture on the bus is very different now from my last trip. Virtually everyone carries their own entertainment with their smart phones, so there is almost no conversation. I was the lone individual using the light to read. Bus travel is a less annoying experience than it used to be.
"When we arrived, the New York skyline was a soft silhouette backlit by the morning sun. Traffic was already heavy before seven a,m. My few days in New York were wonderful.
"I was very anxious about catching my early flight from La Guardia, but friends said it was easy to reach the airport by public transit and so it proved to be. The subway line near me stopped at Jackson Heights/Roosevelt Avenue, the main hub for buses to La Guardia. There were three bays and transit workers in glowing orange vests to orient you to the correct dock and help with the pay machines. The bus goes to all terminals, and I still managed to get off at the wrong one. Thankfully LaGuardia is not such a large airport, and I was able to find my flight in time. Arriving back in Toronto, I took the Union Pearson line downtown. I got off it at the Bloor West station, where I was able to take a streetcar to within a block of my house."
My friend did not supply price information for her trip, but has promised to do so soon, and I will pass it on when she does..