【Model Itinerary】How to Enjoy Washington D.C. on a Budget for International Traveler

Traveling abroad, especially to the United States, can become expensive due to the long flight durations, leading to high travel costs. Therefore, many travelers aim to minimize expenses wherever possible.

Fortunately, most of the tourist attractions in Washington D.C. have free admission, allowing everyone to enjoy them without any hassle. Additionally, even without entering attractions, Washington D.C. is rich in greenery, providing a unique experience just by walking around the city.

To enjoy Washington D.C. on a budget, focus on saving money on local transportation, meals, and shopping.

Expenses to Consider in Washington D.C.: Local transportation, meals, and souvenirs

Since most of the tourist attractions in Washington D.C. are free, you don’t need to worry about spending money on sightseeing.

However, you should be mindful of expenses related to transportation between attractions, meals, and shopping.

When traveling abroad, it’s easy to overspend due to being in a different environment, but by being cautious about these three aspects, you can have a fulfilling stay without stretching your wallet.

Opt for Walking as Much as Possible for Local Travel

Travel looking a Map
Washington D.C. is densely packed with tourist attractions, so grab a map and take a stroll through the city to experience the local vibes firsthand.

Washington D.C. has a dense concentration of tourist spots, making it possible to explore on foot. Especially around the National Mall area, where museums, monuments, and government buildings are clustered, you can complete your sightseeing on foot alone. It’s not uncommon for visitors to solely explore this area by walking.

However, keep in mind that the National Mall covers a vast area of about 3 kilometers east to west and 500 meters north to south. If you’re not confident about your stamina, consider using public transportation or tourist buses, which allow you to hop on and off.

These tourist buses operate on a hop-on-hop-off basis, stopping at famous spots around Washington D.C. This way, you can disembark at places of interest and explore at your own pace. Tickets are available for one or two days, and some even offer free night tours along with a two-day ticket, so choose based on your preference.

Save on Meals with Takeout and Supermarkets


After transportation and accommodation, meals are often a significant expense during a trip abroad.

While dining adds to the experience of an overseas trip and many want to enjoy it fully, Washington D.C.’s famous dish is the crab cake made from jumbo lump crab meat caught in the Potomac River and Chesapeake Bay. This dish is presented in a cake form and can be seasoned and prepared differently by various restaurants.

For those who want to keep their expenses low, consider using takeout options or visiting supermarkets. Depending on the time of year, you might find food trucks lined up around the National Mall or at farmers’ markets. Grab a quick meal from these options to focus more on sightseeing.

If your hotel room has a basic kitchen, you can also utilize local supermarkets. Just like in Japan, American supermarkets have ready-made meal sections, allowing you to buy ingredients for your stay and enjoy them over time, saving on food costs.

Smart Souvenir Shopping in Washington D.C.


Quick question: What comes to mind when you think of souvenirs from Washington D.C.?

Is it presidential-themed merchandise, classic snow globes, or chocolates? With the growing environmental consciousness, maybe reusable eco-bags?

While these souvenirs may remind you of Washington D.C., they’re often priced higher at tourist destinations. Unless you’re really set on buying them, it’s not recommended to purchase them, as you might end up regretting it later.

To avoid buyer’s remorse, it’s advisable to explore multiple stores and compare prices before making souvenir purchases. This way, you can avoid overspending on impulse and also save yourself from carrying excessive items back home.

Appreciating Washington D.C.’s Charm Without Breaking the Bank

As the capital of the United States, Washington D.C. can be expensive due to higher living costs. However, most attractions offer free admission, making it a city where you can enjoy sightseeing without spending much.

To minimize expenses during your stay, pay attention to transportation, meal costs, and souvenir expenses. By doing so, you can have a budget-friendly trip that allows you to experience the charm of Washington D.C.

To the city where the world's finest gather, Washington, D.C.



In 2017, inspired by a joining the inside tour of the White House as a regular tourist, we decided to create this website specifically for travelers planning a trip to Washington, D.C. Here, we provide exclusive information that can't be found elsewhere, including the charm of Washington, D.C. and insider tips to fully enjoy your journey.

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