I’ve been a very good (aka frugal) girl lately. I’ve reduced my Starbucks visits down to one day a week from three days a week (and this used to be 7 days a week habit, so I’m rockin’ this budget buster!) I’ve been consistent with riding my bike three days a week saving a few bucks on gas, and I’ve been eating at home more often. So with all this savings under my belt, I felt I could splurge on a trip to New York to visit family this winter. Plane ticket: $396.

The last time I traveled long-distance was to my sister’s wedding 18-months ago. Not an inexpensive trip, mind you. However, this time around I don’t have to book a rental car or hotel since I’ll be visiting and staying with family. This saves me quite a bundle, especially since New York is notorious for outrageous hotel prices. Hotel and car expenses: zero. Metro pass: $15.

Yet with that said, I need to prepare for a very brisk, if not brutal, winter which means I need to stock up on a few items. If I lived in say South Dakota, I probably wouldn’t have to purchase a thing; I’d have all the winter clothing and attire needed for such a trip. Instead, coming from California, my wardrobe is a bit on the light-weight end of the spectrum which means I have some purchases I need to make.

My short list of must-have items includes:

  • A decent winter coat. I’ll confess, the heaviest coat in my closet at the moment is a wind-breaker – don’t laugh. With winters rarely breaking below 52-degrees, it’s really all I ever need. However, a wind-breaker won’t cut it in January in New York. So, this is a must-have item. Searching around, it looks like Burlington Coat Factory has some great deals on “real” winter coats for under $70. I’ll also keep my eye on the sales online as well as check out Thanksgiving sales and after Christmas deals as well. *I’m a little skeptical of waiting until after Christmas because sometimes winter-wear disappears at the end of the year. Flip-flops and bathing suits quickly begin appearing around January.
  • Thermals. Last time I traveled to NYC during the winter, my undergarments kept me quite warm. Too bad that was many years ago and I don’t own those same items anymore. Two pairs would work out perfectly for my one-week trip, so my strategy is to nab them at a sales price. Preferably before the end of the year.
  • Boots. Again, temperate winters allow me to wear my Keen sandals year-round (okay, with socks in the winter) or my Dansko clogs. Rarely do we have torrential rains that make these shoes impossible to wear. However, I think I’d literally freeze walking around New York in my Keen sandals. Another must-have item, but this one I might be able to score at a local thrift shop or discount online shoe store.

Clothing needs: ~$170. (I’m quickly reminded of why I try to arrange my travel to NYC in spring or summer!)

Of course, I own a few sweaters and jeans that will work just fine for my visit, as long as they are paired with thermals, boots, and a jacket. Clothing will also affect my packing habits. This trip will also require more than just a carry-on, which I’m not looking forward to, but with the amount and bulk of winter clothing, I’m anticipating having to check a small bag. Checked-on bag: $50 (for both directions).

Eating out in New York City can be fairly expensive, so to reduce my food costs I often bring a few Clif Bars and buy a few items that I can snack on once I get there. Soup is another great way to eat healthy and cheaply and it’s easy to find soup walk-up’s in the city.  I also load up my Starbucks card and splurge on coffee and tea. Thankfully, I don’t eat much! Food costs: ~$150. (This is taking into account the generosity of parents).

There are also a few surprise costs included in my travels. Sometimes that’s a cab ride from the airport to my parents’ place or it can be a movie or other event I don’t anticipate attending. Miscellaneous: $75.

All-in-all, my trip is quickly adding up to more than I thought when I bought the ticket. Good thing I’ve been able to reduce my expenses lately!

Are you traveling this winter? Do your costs increase with the weather?