How We Spent a Week in Washington, D.C for Just $415 (Including Airfare!)
Don’t blink twice: yes you read that right! Matthew and I traveled to D.C for the 4 days for $415, this includes airfare, 4 nights accommodation, 3 square meals a day, transportation, and FUN!
To start, let me just tell you…I am the (self-dubbed) QUEEN of cheap flights. Matthew and I aren’t picky, nor do we have high expectations, we just love to travel! I was doing my daily flight price checking three weeks ago, which entails going through my promo emails and daydreaming about trips that will never actually happen. I search Skyscanner.com, and I’ve signed up for the airline emails of Southwest, Alaska, and Frontier. This particular day I had an email from Frontier for 90% off a flight! Now, I am totally aware that 90% off is never ACTUALLY 90% off. It’s totally a bait and hook advertisement, but it gets me every time.
I started looking at some flight itineraries and found ROUNDTRIP tickets from SLC to DCA for $100. Did you read that $100! So of course I called Matthew right away, and we decided to just go for it. We bought the tickets. All in all our airfare cost us $211.42. Here’s the thing about Frontier, they’ll get you there cheap (which is awesome), but their amenities are also cheap. In order to avoid extra chargers (which can add up very quickly), we don’t choose our seats ahead of time and we don’t pay for a bag. How do we travel for 4 days out of just a backpack? Let me introduce you vacuum packing. We only pack the essentials, and we pack everything in these vacuum bags which cuts down half the space.
Once we had our flights, we had to figure out where to stay. Holy cow, hotels in D.C are EXPENSIVE. I’m talking $200+ a night expensive. This part is cheating just a little bit, but my step-dad works for a national hotel chain. He has a few free nights that he wasn’t going to use before the end of the year, so he let us cash those in! We stayed in Victoria for FREE! But, we did look on AirBNB and found some deals for around $50/night. Not too bad.
Next was transportation. Because both of us are youngins and can’t rent a car yet *insert eye roll here*, and we were staying a little ways out of the city, we had to do some research. Our research told us the metro was the most affordable and versatile mode of transportation to get everywhere we needed to. We had to refill our cards often because we didn’t know exactly how much to get, all in all our metro fare totaled $60. This got us most everywhere we wanted to go. We ended up taking quite a few Ubers, but I had found some promos and we did UberPool, so our total Uber fare was $35. Transportation total: $95!
You know those beautiful travel Instagram accounts with all the amazing food spreads and gelato piled high? They get to me! But here’s the thing…the cost of food can drive up the cost of your trip SO much! I’d much rather be able to take another trip than spend an arm and a leg for Instagram food pictures. Here’s how we eat on vacations. First of all, we try to find somewhere to stay that has continental breakfast. Then, as soon as we arrive our first stop is the grocery store. We pick up sandwich stuff (bread, deli meat, lettuce, etc. totally about $8). We get snacks, such as crackers ($2) granola bars ($2) and some fruit ($5). All in all we spent about $17 and we have 4 days worth of lunch and snacks! We’re really easy going so eating the same thing for lunch and breakfast doesn’t bug us. We go out to eat for dinner. We try to keep our meals between $6-8 a plate, and often times we share meals at restaurants! The portion sizes are always so big, and you can’t eat left overs on vacation. Our eating out bill totaled about $60. So for food we spent a total of $75.
In D.C LOTS of the entertainment is free. All the tours we went on were free and we went to lots of museums and monuments, because that’s just what you do in D.C. We did pay for some things though. We went to the Arlington National Cemetery and payed $13 for each of us for their tour (WELL worth it though!), and we rented bikes one day (which was a whopping $4). Entertainment Total: $30
There you have it! Our 4 day trip to D.C for $411. Broken down it was $205.50 a person! You can rarely find flights alone for that price. Traveling doesn’t have to be a super expensive thing. When you budget for it, plan ahead, and are willing to make some sacrifices (such as packing in only in a back pack, not staying in a 5-star resort, and eating cereal for breakfast), traveling can be a real possibility! Since traveling is something Matthew and I really enjoy doing together we have a bank account specifically for travel. We put away a certain percentage of our paychecks towards it, and we don’t plan a trip until we have enough money for it. If we don’t have enough money for it, in our minds we haven’t earned it.
Both of us are super interested in finances and traveling (which for us go together!). Hence the super long post! If you made it this far, kudos!!! Thank you for following along! We’re looking for our next adventure. Send us your suggestions, we’d love to know where your favorite place to travel is and how you budgeted for it!