A travel guide to safely exploring Washington DC on a budget


There is a seemingly endless number of museums, monuments and memorials to visit in Washington, D.C., United States, which is home to the U.S. Capitol. It can be very hard to see all the must-see attractions in one trip. However, with a few simple steps it is possible to explore the city safely and on a budget.

US Capitol building (©Andy Feliciotti)
US Capitol building (©Andy Feliciotti)

1. Get your tickets in advance if traveling from a different city.

It used to be that you needed ample time to plan for a trip with the logistics of airfare, booking hotels, and car rentals. However, with the advent of online travel sites, it is now possible to book all your transportation needs in one place.

If you are visiting Washington from NYC you can get these tickets online and have them sent directly to your hotel or apartment. The first thing you should do upon arrival is to pick up the tickets, so you won’t have to worry about it later on. Another great service these sites offer is allowing you to book tours and activities online too. Getting your ticket online will save you a lot of time and hassle.


2. Plan out your day.

It’s important to plan your day in advance, especially around high traffic times. For example, if you are traveling during the summer months it is best to visit the National Mall in the morning when it is not so crowded. You can also get tickets to popular attractions online so that there won’t be a line for you once you arrive at the site. This way, you’ll have more time to enjoy seeing all of Washington D.C.’s famous sites without wasting any precious time waiting in lines.

Another place that gets extremely busy during hot summer days are the Smithsonian Museums on the National Mall. If you plan ahead then you’ll know which museums will be less crowded and how many of them you could go to in a day.


3. Bring food and water with you everywhere.

It’s essential that you bring food and water with you everywhere you go because not all attractions will have places to buy these necessities. If you plan on walking around the city for hours then it’s best to come prepared. Also, if your trip is in the summer months, bring an umbrella too because it can be very hot outside. When exploring the city it is easy to become distracted by new sights and sounds, so it’s crucial you keep track of your belongings at all times.

Always know where your passport, wallet, phone, camera or anything else that could get lost are at all times so that they won’t get stolen. If someone bumps into you on the street then immediately check your pockets and bags because they may have slipped their hand inside during the commotion.


4. Choose hostels over hotels.

Hostels are a great option for budget conscious travelers. If you are traveling alone then you can opt to share a room with other travelers rather than paying the higher price of a one-bedroom suite, plus it will be more exciting that way! When staying at hostels, check their reviews online to find out what they’re like and if there are any issues or problems that need to be addressed before booking your stay.

Another perk about staying in hostels is that everyone else who is staying there will have similar interests as yourself. This means making friends won’t be hard, so you’ll always feel safe on your trip no matter where you go. Hostels are also a great way to meet locals who live in Washington D.C. so you can get firsthand advice on what attractions are worth visiting.


5.  Get a metrocard.

Before traveling, it is important that you get a metrocard  because it will save you money in the long run. This is because, after your first time using their subway system, you can refill your metrocard with money for future use.

It’s also good to know that each ride on the Washington D.C.’s public transport system costs $1.60. This will go a long way especially if you are traveling with family members, friends, or significant others who may not want to spend as much time walking around outside. Another advantage of getting a metro card is being able to access all forms of transportation so  that you don’t have to worry about using different modes of transportation.


Washington D.C. is the perfect city to visit if you are planning on taking an extended trip because of its inexpensive public transport system, beautiful architecture, vast array of museums, and many other attractions. You can plan your entire trip and save money without sacrificing the fun and excitement of your destination. So, if you plan to visit it soon, good luck and have a great time.

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