Washington D.C. on a Budget: A Guide to a Thrifty D.C. Trip

by Benjamin Lewis

As the nation’s capital, Washington, D.C. represents one of the most expensive cities in America.  You have multi-millionaire politicians, billionaire lobbyists, and other elites all vying for a table at the city’s most expensive restaurants and clubs.  But, that doesn’t mean you have to keep up with the Joneses.  You can still feel good about touring Washington D.C. on a budget by using some of the following tips and tricks:


Go National Monument-hopping


One of the best things about touring Washington D.C. on a budget sometimes surprises first-time visitors.  All of the monuments associated with the city come at no charge.  Whether you want to see the Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, Thomas Jefferson Memorial, Vietnam Memorial, or any of the other monumental Washington, D.C. attractions, you won’t have to pay a dime.  Plus, they all sit relatively close together on or near the National Mall, so you can save money by walking between them.  That’s smart!


Pack Your Own Lunch

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One of the simplest ways to pinch pennies while touring Washington D.C. on a budget often gets overlooked.  Pack your lunches during your Washington D.C. trip and you’ll have saved enough dough to pay for a metro ticket or a beer at a local pub.  For some, the perceived hassle of packing a lunch while on a Washington D.C. vacation simply outweighs the financial benefit.  But, depending on the length of your Washington D.C. sightseeing tour, it can really add up over several days.  Thrifty!


Stay in the Dorms during the Summer

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They’re clean, they’re safe, and they’re cheap!  College dorms provide the ideal blend of comfort, security, and affordability during your Washington, D.C. tour.  Plus, many of Washington, D.C.’s universities sit within highly desirable areas of the city and make their dorms available to the general public once the students have left.  So, if you find yourself taking a Washington, D.C. trip during the summer or winter break, then experience a flashback to your college days by staying in the dorms!  Trippy!


Hit the Free Museums

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As crazy as it may seem, many of the most popular Washington, D.C. museums display their art and artifacts at no cost to anyone.  Indeed, you can explore the National Air & Space Museum, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian American Art Museum, or any of the other Smithsonian Museums for free!  And, you’ll soon discover that Washington, D.C. boasts more free museums than you could even squeeze into your budget itinerary.  Good luck visiting them all!


Eat at the Food Trucks

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Ok, fine.  You don’t want to pack your lunches during your D.C. trip.  And, no relaxing picnics on the National Mall could ever sway you.  In that case, you’ll probably find yourself at the food trucks more than once during your Washington, D.C. day trip.  The city has no shortage of fast food options that serve right in front of the top Washington, D.C. attractions.  Whether you feel like Mexican, Lebanese, Chinese, American, or any other cuisine, it’s there in our nation’s capital!


Hey there!  Do you know any secret tips or tricks to get by on a budget in Washington, D.C.?  Let us know in the comments and we’ll add your idea to the list during our next update!

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