Hello fellow travelers! Welcome to my first post. As TheTomKid, I will provide you with fun and cheap ways to adventure. My first endeavour is to dissect Washington, D.C.!
Over the Labor Day weekend, I hopped on a road trip with my parents and grandparents to this wonderful city. We stayed in National Harbor. And yes, I got to stay with my parents for free.
That brings me to my first tip when visiting D.C.: find someone to stay with who lives there or is already traveling there. It can be an incredibly expensive place to stay, but there are still many ways to save!
I am going to guide you through some of these ways when going to this rockin’ city. Some of these include: checking out the National Monuments, exploring the Smithsonian and going to local events.
Free things to do
National monuments and the Smithsonian
The most obvious free thing to do is seeing the National monuments and the Smithsonian. If you decide to go see the monuments, I would suggest taking an entire day to do so. My absolute favorite memorial is the Korean War Memorial, which is located close to the Lincoln Memorial. This one recognizes the massive amount of lives lost in such a short amount of time. It is incredibly moving.
When you get around to perusing the Smithsonian, you have a plethora to choose from. If you have a limited amount of time, I suggest choosing which ones you want to go to before you venture out. You can literally spend an entire day in each one of them.
The Capitol and the White House
You also have the opportunity to get tours of The Capitol and White House for free. The Capitol requires you to go through your state representative or senator and they encourage you to book it as soon as possible. The White House requires you to book 21 days to six months in advance and must be done through your member of Congress.
I had the opportunity to tour The Capitol and it was breathtaking! Next time, I hope I get a chance to tour the White House.
Cheap things to do
D.C. offers plenty of inexpensive things to do within the college kid budget including a very cool water taxi, viewing live theatre and checking out local shops. Although, there is one place I want to highlight.
If you’re a bit of a journalism nerd like myself, get to the Newseum. It is located in the heart of D.C., near the corner of Pennsylvania Avenue and 6th Street. It only costs $21.95 and that allows you admission for two days! Also, if you present your student or military ID, you only pay $17.95. Can I get an “amen” for extra savings?!
The Newseum offers more than 20 exhibits; many of which are interactive.
Two of my favorite exhibits are the Berlin Wall gallery and the 9/11 gallery. I really enjoy the Berlin Wall gallery because they have actual pieces of it on display. Oh, and I was born the exact day the Wall was torn down!
The 9/11 gallery has a piece of the radio antenna from the North World Trade Center Tower on display. As seen in the photo, front pages of newspapers are displayed surrounding the focal point of the gallery.
You have the opportunity to write in an electronic journal describing where you were that tragic day and how you felt. It is overwhelming and very moving. I have been to this gallery twice and I teared up both times.
When in D.C., you will be walking a lot. Be prepared by wearing shoes that don’t give you blisters. I didn’t take my own advice. Two weeks later, I still have some nasty blisters trying to heal.
If you want to visit the monuments in a more efficient fashion and are commuting into the city, I suggest you use the Metro system. There are many options as to what you should purchase and use for an extended weekend, but your best bet would be the SmartTrip card.
The SmartTrip card is the only pass that allows you to use the Metrobus, Metrorail and pay for Metro station parking. You pay only $5 for the card and can load as much money on it as many times as you want.
(A local’s helpful hint: make sure the system is completely restarted before you try to reload your card. When you step away to get help, someone nearby may try to get your money on their card!)
Where to eat
The types of restaurants to choose from is overwhelming. You can find something on nearly every corner. If you have a smartphone, an application I would suggest using to help you decide where to go and what is actually in your price range, is Yelp.
Although I have provided you with many ways to save money on this kind of trip, I would suggest saving a little money before you take a road trip out to D.C. That’s the smart way to travel on a college kid budget.
If you have not yet visited D.C., you absolutely have to! Not only is it rich with history and culture, you never know what kinds of adventures you’ll find. Happy traveling!