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【Model Itinerary for International Traveler】Enjoying a Trip to Washington D.C. on a Budget of $3,000

If you suddenly decide to travel to Washington D.C. for the first time, how would you go about arranging it?

Many people might opt to visit a travel agency and sign up for a free plan to Washington D.C. or a package tour that includes major cities on the East Coast. These plans typically range from 5 to 7 days for free plans and 6 days to more than 10 days for package tours. However, the travel costs for these options can start from at least 300,000 yen, including various expenses.

In reality, free plans usually cover only flight tickets, hotel accommodation, and transfers, while package tours may include half-day city tours and visits to one or two museums. While these plans can be suitable for those who want to see the famous spots in Washington D.C., they might not be the best choice for those who prefer to explore one place in depth or visit off-the-beaten-path attractions not listed in guidebooks.

Therefore, I would like to recommend individual arrangements. Here, I will introduce a method to travel to Washington D.C. with a budget of 300,000 yen, which is the minimum average cost for free plans or package tours with a guide.

6-Day Trip to Washington D.C. on a $3,000 Budget

Washington D.C. is a city with concentrated tourist spots within a small area, making it a beginner-friendly destination for overseas travelers.

As a typical way to explore the city, you can spend the first day touring around the National Mall area, the second day visiting museums and other places of interest, and on the third day, explore the suburbs like the northwest district of the city, Alexandria, and Mount Vernon.

To fully enjoy Washington D.C., you will need at least 6 days, including flight time. While staying for 7 days or more allows for a more fulfilling trip, for this plan with a budget of 300,000 yen, we will stick to a 6-day itinerary.

Basic Individual Arrangements: Book Flight Tickets and Hotels Together

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The most expensive part of international travel is usually the flight tickets, followed by hotel accommodation.

For individual arrangements, the quality of your trip largely depends on how you book these two components. While flight tickets and hotels can be costly, spending too much on them can leave you with limited spending money during the trip. On the other hand, choosing overly cheap flight tickets and hotels might result in inconvenient locations or unsafe neighborhoods, ruining your travel experience.

For a budget of $3,000, it’s advisable to keep the total cost of flight tickets and hotels within $2,000 if possible.

Stay in Hotels near the Northwest District or in Virginia for Affordable and Convenient Accommodation

Hotels in Washington D.C. are generally expensive due to it being the capital of the United States. However, there are a few hotels with relatively affordable rates despite their convenient locations. Keep in mind that cheaper hotels might have their downsides, such as being located in unsafe areas or far from tourist spots.

In Washington D.C., staying in the northwest district is generally safe, except for the Columbia Heights area. Most places in this district have relatively busy streets until around 10 PM, so you should have no issues with safety. Among them, the Foggy Bottom district, which is to the west of the White House, is a student area, making hotel accommodation relatively more affordable. Additionally, the Adams Morgan area in the northern part of the city allows easy access to Union Station via the Red Line of the Metro.

Alternatively, if you cross the Potomac River to Virginia, you’ll find hotels with generally lower prices than those in the city. Hotels along the Blue, Silver, and Orange lines of the Metro might offer cheaper and more convenient options compared to the city center.

Opt for Connecting Flights Instead of Direct Flights
Washington D.C. is served by direct flights from around the world, arriving at Dulles International Airport.

Direct flights allow you to travel without layovers, enabling you to start your activities as soon as you arrive. However, this convenience comes at a higher cost. Additionally, international flights to Washington D.C. land at Dulles International Airport, which is more than 30 minutes away from the city center, requiring some additional travel time after arrival.

On the other hand, if you choose connecting flights, you may arrive in the evening of your arrival day, but you’ll have a wide range of options and potentially book cheaper fares. Furthermore, you can also opt for Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, which is located just across the Potomac River from the city center, making transportation to your hotel much easier.

Thursdays or Fridays are Ideal Departure Days

With individual arrangements, you have the freedom to choose your departure date. However, weekends, particularly Thursdays and Fridays, tend to offer lower travel costs. To ensure you have enough spending money during your trip, it’s best to carefully select your departure date.

Many Options for Individual Arrangements

Traveling to Washington D.C. from Japan can be costly due to the distance, but through individual arrangements, you have a wide range of options and can save money compared to travel agency plans.

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

CrossGateway

CrossGateway

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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