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Help! Making travel plans for First Time trip to NYC in October!

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I am traveling with my mother-in-law to NYC for 9 days in October. Our housing recently fell through and so I need to find a hotel -- we had planned to fly into Newark, based on our previous housing arrangements. Having to pay for a hotel certainly cuts into our budget! I have been reading about taking the PATH? into NYC if we stay near the airport (in Elizabeth? -- or should we stay elsewhere?) to save on hotel costs....is this going to be a nightmare -- getting to/from the city? Seems we have to take hotel shuttle to airport and make a couple of bus changes to get to the PATH? I am confused! What hotels would you recommend.....the ratings don't help a bunch! We just need an average, clean room as we won't be there much.

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