Travelling on Your Own vs. Going on a Bus Tour

So, you want to go to New York. If you’ve looked into it, you’ve probably realized that you have a bunch of options on how to get there. In this post, we’re going to outline some of those, mainly focusing on the difference between taking an organized bus tour, or planning and travelling to NYC on your own.

We’ll talk about transportation and accommodations, two of the bigger aspects of the trip, as well as activities and food which are based on personal preference. Any prices mentioned in this post are based on travelling to New York on October 5-10, 2016 from Moncton or Halifax. Prices may vary depending on the websites that you use, the time of year you look and as prices naturally rise and fall.

Travelling on Your Own

1. Research

So first, you’re going to need to do A TON of research.

Where will you stay? How will you get there? What will you do? Where will you eat? In New York, you have almost unlimited options for places to stay, things to do, and places to eat. The more research you do the better.

2. Transportation


You’re going to have to decide whether you’re going to drive or fly. Since our bus tours leave from the Maritime provinces, we’re going to assume that people would be flying out of Moncton of Halifax. Either way, you’d be looking at AT LEAST $200-300 for your flight (based on prices from Air Canada), plus taxes and fees (unless you get a great deal, or use points to purchase your flight). You also may have to factor in the price of leaving your car at the airport which would cost approximately $75-80 depending on where you’re leaving from.

If you’re going to drive, you need to consider that you are going to be putting about 3000 kms on your car, plus what you’re going to pay in gas. You also need to realize that driving around New York is not always ideal— think parking spots/parking fees/lots of traffic.

Transportation cost for 2 people: Approximately $800.

3. Hotel

We looked into a few options here. First, hotels in the NYC area. IF you are lucky, you may be able to get a hotel for $350 CAD a night plus taxes for a 3-star hotel. Assuming you’re flying, you would need to book accommodations for 5 nights, therefore looking at approximately $1750 plus tax.

Another option would be to stay in a hotel outside of the city, but you’d still be looking at prices around $250-300 per night, plus since you’re not right in the city, bus fares of about $4.50 each way, twice a day for 6 days is $55 per person in addition to your transportation costs outlined in the section above.

Your third option would be Air BnB, where the average cost of rentals is $199 per night. With fees, you’d be looking at about $1150 for your stay from the 5th-10th. Remember, with an Air BnB rental, breakfast won’t be included so you will either need to pick up some groceries or head to a restaurant for breakfast.

Accommodation cost for 2 people: Approximately $1150.

4. Activities


There are so many things to do in NYC depending on the time of year you go, but you definitely want to get to a broadway show while you’re there. These shows are so spectacular and unforgettable you wouldn’t want to miss out. They can run about $125 and up for a show depending on the time of day you go and the seats and show you choose. Another thing to see is the Statue of Liberty. There are tours that go right on to Liberty Island that range from $18-21 USD, but you can also ride by on the Staten Island Ferry for free. If you want to learn about NYC, you can take a double decker tour of the city starting at $44 USD +tax.

Costs vary depending on personal preferences. Approximately $500 for 2 people.

5. Food

Your meal expenses can vary depending on your taste in food. Some people may want to have a fancy sit-down dinner with upscale food made by world renowned chefs. Others may want to just grab a quick bite from a food vendor. If you stay in a hotel, breakfast may be included in your stay. If you stay in an Air BnB rental, that may be an additional meal you have to pay for, whether you buy groceries to make your own food or go to a restaurant.

Cost varies depending on personal preferences. Approximately $400 for 2 people.

Approximate total cost for travelling on your own to NYC for 5 days: $2,650.

Travelling on a Bus Tour

Cost varies depending on tour company; Food For Life Bus Tours Start at $999 per person, double occupancy.

1. Research

All of that research you did when you were going to travel on your own? You can toss half of it out the window. That’s what’s so great about bus tours! Transportation? Check! Hotels? Check! Even some of your meals and activities are taken care of! This all means more money in your pocket (three cheers for group rates!), and less of your time wasted.

Now we’re not saying that you don’t have to do any research at all, because again, why would you want to go on a bus tour where every single thing is planned for you, and you have no say in what you do? There is a lot of free time where you and your travel buddies can explore the city. So take a look at the itinerary for the tour you are interested in, and research actives and sightseeing that you would like to do around the planned actives. Keep in mind that the itineraries can change depending on the weather. If it’s too cloudy to see the top of the Freedom Tower, then you obviously won’t be going to the top that day and it’ll be moved to later in the week.

2. Transportation


Transportation on a bus tour is easy! Obviously, when you take a tour bus down to NYC it drives you to and from the hotel, and to different areas of the city. You may opt to spend extra money on a taxi, the subway, a limo, or a transit bus to get to a certain activity or store you want to go to, or you can just walk and get those steps on your FitBit.

Cost varies depending on personal preferences. 

3. Hotel

Hotel accommodations are simple on a bus tour too! They’re included in the price of the tour and include breakfast and free wifi.

4. Activities

Bus tours typically come with a built-in tour guide, so there’s not always a need to pay for a tour on those classic red double-decker buses. You also get some of the activities mentioned in the “travelling on your own” section above in the flat rate that you pay before you leave. Things like a lunch cruise (valued at $53 USD each) that sails right by the Statue of Liberty and a Broadway show.

Cost varies depending on personal preferences. Approximately $100 for 2 people.

5. Food

When you travel on a bus tour, breakfast is usually included in your hotel stay, Food For Life Bus Tours includes a Chinese buffet supper on the first night as well as a pizza party on the second last night. As mentioned above, the rest of your meals are dependant on how much you would like to spend. There are lots of options for sit down as well as quick meals depending on how much time and money you would like to spend.

Cost varies depending on personal preferences. Approximately $300 for 2 people.


As you can see, travelling on a bus tour and travelling to New York on your own both have their advantages. Travelling on your own is more hands on. You do exactly what you want to do when you want to do it. You make all of the arrangements yourself which takes more time and research, and typically costs more, but allows you more flexibility.

Going on a bus tour, on the other hand, takes the planning pressure off and can be more cost-effective, but can also be a bit more restrictive. Transportation, accommodations, and where you go are arranged for you, but you do have lots of free time to explore the city and do some activities on your own. Additionally, bus tours could be a great option if it’s your first time going to NYC. You just need to choose which option is the best one for you.

The following table is a rough breakdown of the comparison between the costs of travelling to NYC on your own vs going on a bus tour. Prices are based on what was discussed above and can vary based on personal preference as well as the date that you purchase certain items (i.e. your flight for example).

Travelling on Your Own  Travelling on a Bus Tour
Transportation  $800 (2 people)  $1,998 (2 people @ double occupancy)
Hotel  $1,150 (2 people)  $0
Activities  $500 (2 people)  $100 (2 people)
Food  $400 (2 people)  $300 (2 people)
TOTAL  $2,850 (2 people)  $2,398 (2 people)
Share this post

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *