If you’re planning on visiting our nation’s capital sometime soon, then you’re in luck: it’s an exciting, vibrant city, full of culture and activities for everyone. It’s family-friendly, but there’s also a lot of music, bars, and theater for younger people looking for a fun time. There’s a public transit system that can take you all around the city, and if you enjoy politics, you’ll never run out of gossip on the hill. There’s the history too, the countless museums, and it’s one of the most international cities in the world. Washington, D.C. is a great city to visit–but chances are, you’re a bit worried about how expensive it is.
Because it’s a city with lots of high-earning professionals owning huge houses in nearby suburbs or renting fancy townhouses in Georgetown, costs are high in D.C. It’s not worth paying extra for a taxi from the airport or spending money at a five-star restaurant where celebrities and senators go. But there are some ways to save money on your D.C. trip, and here’s how.
Save on transportation
There’s no point in using a cab in Washington, D.C. Prices are super-high, and when you compare them to alternatives, it isn’t worth spending the money. Getting a rental car isn’t a good idea either: you’ll probably end up having to pay for parking at your hotel, or spending at least $40 a day parking the car around the city. Instead, think about getting a hotel in the center and walking around. You can also bike ride! There are lots of public and private bikes available. The Mobike app, which has bikes all around the city, has a rating of 4.6 out of 5 on the Apple store.
However, if walking or biking is an issue because of a health problem like orthopnea, you can still save money in other ways. Uber is surprisingly cheap in D.C., and if you’re splitting it with a group, a ride across town can cost as little as a dollar each. And don’t forget about the public transportation system. Buses aren’t reliable, but the Metro is, so if you get a hotel near a Metro stop and don’t ride on rush hour, it shouldn’t be too expensive.
Enjoy the Smithsonian Museums and more
It’s easy to spend a lot when you’re visiting Washington, D.C. After all, lunch in the business district of the city costs an average of $14, which is probably way more than you’re used to unless you’re based in another expensive East coast city. That’s why you need to know what you can save on as a tourist. And one great way of doing this is visiting the Smithsonian Museums. They have incredible collections–and they’re all free!
If you love history, there’s the National Museum of American History, the National Museum of the American Indian, and the National Museum of African American History and Culture. If you’re a lover of modern art, check out the Hirshhorn; for the more traditional art lovers, there’s the National Art Gallery and the National Portrait Gallery. In the same way that a lawyer like Aaron Kelly can help a startup understand their legal situation, these museums will help you understand not only American culture but also our country’s relationship with the rest of the world. An important lesson when visiting our nation’s capital.
Additionally, because it’s such a culturally rich city, there are lots of free events. Sometimes they’re hosted on the National Mall; other times, an embassy might throw a party where drinks and hors-d’oeuvres are free. Do your research, and find out what’s close and free!
Be creative with accommodations
Additionally, it’s never a bad idea to save some money on accommodations. In July 2017, the average cost of overnight accommodations in Washington, D.C. was $270–and if you multiply that by how long you’re staying, it can add up. Even a weekend is going to cost over half a thousand dollars, and that’s way too much. If you’re traveling with your family, paying for additional rooms or a cot fee isn’t worth it.
Luckily, there are lots of cute residential neighborhoods in the D.C. area, which means you can get an affordable AirBnB while staying somewhere nice. Some of the best neighborhoods include Dupont Circle and Chevy Chase, but look around generally to see what works for you.
These are some of the best ways to save money on your Washington, D.C. trip. What other strategies do you use to save money while traveling?