My husband will be travelling to Washington D.C. in a few weeks to go to a conference.  Luckily, his expenses will be reimbursed through a grant with the professor he is working for.  The kids and I decided to tag along, mostly because I think my 7 year old, budding history buff, would really enjoy seeing the country’s capitol.  However, as readers of this blog know, we don’t have a lot of extra money as we are trying to pay off $56,000 in student loans and credit cards.  If the whole family is going, we plan to minimize our financial cost.  Here is how we plan to save on the trip:

Bring food for me and the kids.  The hotel room we are staying in has a full kitchen, which means there is no excuse for us to go out to eat (and taking three kids to a restaurant by myself while my husband is at the conference does not sound like fun to me).   I have had two small freezer cooking sessions, and I will take some of the meals I made for the trip.  I will also bake two loaves of bread right before the trip, and we plan to have sandwiches on the way down to Washington D.C.

Take advantage of free sightseeing in Washington D.C.  Here are some of the free events we are considering:

National Zoo

Bureau of Engraving and Printing (to see money being made)

National Museum of American History

Lincoln Memorial

Vietnam Veterans Memorial

National Portrait Gallery

As a splurge, I am also considering taking the kids to a children’s theater, Discovery Theatre, that caters to kids 2 to 6 years of age.  It will cost the four of us $23 to go, but that will be our only splurge.

Bring snacks for day trips and the trip down and back.  I plan to stock up on several snacks, both homemade and store bought to eat while we are out sightseeing and travelling in the car.  I will also be bringing our beverages.

Buy a voucher from a daily site for a meal out.  As a family, we would like to have one meal out in Washington D.C., so I have been looking through sites like restaurant.com, Groupon, Living Social and Mamapsource daily for a restaurant we would like to try.  By doing this, I am hoping we can limit our splurge meal out to 50% of the retail price.

My husband will be reimbursed for the conference fee, the gas (plus mileage), meals out for himself and hotel costs, so I am hoping that we won’t spend more than additional $100 to $150 tagging along with him.  That will be a very frugal way to show my children this nation’s capitol.  Plus, my husband has been very busy with work, and it will be nice to see a bit more of him.  We are looking forward to going, and I will be sure to share our experiences with you here!

Have you been to Washington D.C. or do you live there?  If so, what activities do you recommend?

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