Sometimes, travel presents challenges.  It isn’t always perfect or the ideal situation.  On a recent Aruban vacation, options for our return flight home sucked. No matter what, we were going to have to layover somewhere for around 11 hours or more. We saw Newark was the most affordable and most reasonable option, so we chose to connect there.

Because we would have to stay the night, we elected to extend our layover by a few more hours.  The purpose of this was to have enough time to visit New York City!  This decision set us up to maximize our time by having a layover adventure – going to Manhattan for the night for less than $100!

It had been a few years since we had gone New York City, and this city will always hold a special place in my heart.   So, we had to figure out some logistics of how we were going to get to the city for the night. Turns out, there are lots of options to do this. However many of them required an earlier arrival at Newark airport than our flight was scheduled for. With that in mind, we had to figure it out on our own.  But, our ideas worked and it was easily manageable!

We enjoyed a night in Times Square for less than $100! 

Picking a hotel

First thing we had to decide on was a hotel. We wanted something that was near Newark airport and affordable. We found a nearby Ramada that offered free 24 hour airport shuttle service. Luckily, we were able to redeem some airline miles that were about to expire. By doing so, we only had to pay $13.20 for our hotel stay!  Less than $15.00 for a night at the Ramada! 

Our biggest problem was that, upon arrival, the man at the reception desk was very chatty. As much as we appreciated his helpfulness, he was also burning our valuable time. We managed to get away from him, checked into our room, changed our clothes, and caught the shuttle back to Newark Airport.

Getting to Manhattan

From the airport, we headed to the New Jersey Transit station and bought two round trip tickets to Penn Station.  Make sure to do the NJ Transit option, not Amtrak because the tickets are much less expensive! This cost us just over $50. We caught the next train and in 20 minutes, we were in the heart of Manhattan!

Walking towards the Empire State Building!

Because we only had a few hours, we power walked our way through the crowds.  I have to admit, we walk really fast! Like, we easily blow by most people!  Doing so allowed us to spend some time in Times Square, check out the Empire State Building, walk around the area, and grab a bite of New York pizza for a quick dinner.  The pizza was cheap – costing us less than $10 total!

Just a little pit stop in Times Square!

The hours of our layover zipped by and before we knew it, it was time to catch the late train back to Newark. As a side note – the late trains out of New York City are packed. Get to the train station early, and as soon as they announced the departure track, head that way! You’ll see the rush of the crowd.

After a brief train ride back to Newark airport, we picked up the hotel shuttle and crashed.  Of course, we had to be up in just a few hours to catch the final leg of our flight home.  It was great being able to spend some time in such a great city and for such a cheap price.  We express thanks to Anthony Bourdain for encouraging travelers like us to embrace the suck and rock the layover!

Our time in New York was totally worth it!

How do you feel about maximizing time on layovers? Do you venture into the area to explore or stay put? Share your experiences and thoughts in the comments below!


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  1. Love, love, love this post!! What fun to read and see the pictures and see NY at night. Would love to see NY in person. Thanks for another great post.

  2. Great tips on visiting New York City for less than $100. Wow, great tips and photos. Thanks for sharing! #feetdotravel

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