Prudence Debtfree Goes to Washington

DH = dear husband

For the second time since our journey out of debt began in June of 2012, I stepped onto a plane! Yes, I’m traveling!

One of my nieces moved to Washington DC with her husband in March of this year for a 9-month posting that he had been offered. As the summer approached, my sister – another aunt – asked if I’d be interested in taking a trip with her to visit Maddie and Mike. Β I was, and here we are for the week!

Frugal elements of our visit

Brian from Debt Discipline wrote anΒ Ugh!Β post this week about his family’s high spending in the last couple of months. With all of the hype and celebration surrounding his twins’ graduation from high school, the money was flying. I could relate. “I think that especially for those of us trying to correct old bad habits,” I commented, “a different scenario means facing new challenges that we’re not necessarily aware of … It’s not enough to have better regular financial habits – there have to be better financial habits when things are irregular too.”

Travel is irregular for me, so nothing too stellar here, but let me acknowledge the frugal elements of this trip:

  1. We booked with Porter Airlines well enough in advance that our bill was just over $300 CAD ($235 USD). A quick search tells me that the cost for the flight with a more traditional airline would have been at least $200 more expensive.
  2. We brought egg sandwiches and muffins to the airport to avoid the expense of buying breakfast.
  3. We are staying at my niece’s apartment instead of paying for a hotel.
  4. We have not spent a cent on public transit, Uber, or cabs. Instead, we’re walking everywhere. (And I have the blister to prove it).
  5. The museums in Washington are FREE, and so we’re visiting LOTS of museums.
  6. We are choosing very inexpensive to moderately priced restaurants, and while it would be easy to eat all meals out, we are doing some cooking too.

That last point probably comes off as unimpressive. The fact is, we’d be hard-pressed to prepare all of our meals in advance of going out for the day. Food would go bad, and it would be difficult to carry it for the distances we’re walking. The other fact is, we did treat Maddie and Mike to one not-so-moderate dinner as a highly deserved “Thank you.” A badass would have been more frugally impressive in this category, but Fruclassity by definition champions the not-so-badass.

What I love about Washington DC

Travel is one of the things we have “sacrificed” in our efforts to get out of debt, and I haven’t been pining for it. I’ve leaned into a greater appreciation for the local scene – which I’ve genuinely developed. So I’ve been a bit surprised at how absolutely THRILLED I am to be exploring another part of the world! Much as I’ve been content not to travel, I really to do love it.

And here’s why:

  • Maddie and Mike have rented in an ideal location. We can walk to the White House within 20 minutes, and to Georgetown within 30. For anyone living in urban DC, everything is SO accessible.
  • I am gobsmacked by the architecture I see at every turn. The majesty of the buildings and monuments surrounding the National Mall; the sheer variety of buildings on any given street; the charm of the housing – even when it’s very dense – perhaps especially in Georgetown … It is a truly beautiful place. (And, I’m aware, very wealthy.)

  • It’s been sunny and warm (unlike my own national capital city, which has been cool and soaking wet this summer).
  • I am charmed by the variety of American accents I hear in Washington. (Canada and the US are similar in many ways, but I’m struck by the cultural differences between our two countries.)
  • There are some very talented buskers in the tourist hot spots.

Memorable moments of our trip so far

  • The museums we’ve visited so far have been fabulous: The American History Museum, The Smithsonian American Art Museum, and The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. I immersed myself in the Civil War at the History Museum, gaining an increased respect for Abraham Lincoln, as well as an increased disgust with humanity for the pain we inflict on each other. (And a stronger conviction that if more women sat in the assemblies of power, the madness would diminish.)
  • My sister and I took part in the unfolding of a huge American flag in the History Museum. Once it was completely unfolded, everyone was invited to sing the American National Anthem. About half of us, foreigners from different countries, remained silent, but those who sang did so with their whole hearts. I was moved to see and hear them.
  • We have had the best visit with our niece and her husband. Our extended family gatherings are usually large and loud. It’s such a bonus to be with this small group, and really get to know Maddie and Mike.

Tomorrow, we hope to go to the National Museum of African American History and Culture, and then to the National Air and Space Museum. (I promised DH that I would take a photo of the Starship Enterprise – which is housed there.)

A taste of things to come

This trip is making me more eager for the day when travel will be common for us. The future is looking bright!


What is it that you love best about travel? Your comments are welcome.


Photo courtesy of Pixabay

26 comments on “Prudence Debtfree Goes to Washington

  1. Great post Ruth. I can feel your excitement in exploring new territory! One of the things I love about travelling is how it helps me to connect to my surroundings. The new and surprising sights, sounds and smells keep me aware, present and fulfilled as colours, forms and music enter my being. It’s a good reminder to bring a heightened awareness to my everyday life back home for the very familiar is beautiful and life sustaining when given the proper attention.

    1. It’s true that (as we discussed on one of our many long walks yesterday) a bit of travel can make us appreciate home so much more. Very grateful to have such a wonderful travel companion, sis!

  2. That blister… yikes!

    I haven’t been to D.C. since high school but you are giving me the itch! I loved visiting Georgetown and seeing all the museums/monuments. I’m glad you had a great trip!

    1. Oh, and the blister is even more impressive this morning! I’ll be using my niece’s flip flops today so that that thing can breathe. I too went to Washington when I was in high school (with my senior class and our history teacher). I appreciate it all way more now though. I hope that you get to go again, Mrs. A.R.!

  3. Oh, hey, I live there! Welcome!

    Based on your reaction to the Civil War exhibit, I imagine that you will find the African American museum really powerful, especially the below ground floors.

    And I love the walkability of this city. For my first seven or eight years here I did not have a car. Since then my wife and I have shared one car (her fully-paid car from high school) and we use it a couple of times per month. (The walking is also plenty of forced exercise, which is helpful, as well!)

    1. Thank you, Matt! People have been friendly and welcoming here.

      I’m writing this response after having visited the African American museum, and you’re right.. I couldn’t even speak for a time after leaving it. It is so good that this museum has finally been built.

      I was thinking that if I lived in Washington, I wouldn’t need a car. You and your wife are going about it wisely. Thanks again!

  4. That’s a badass blister! Ouch! We made the trip to DC about 10 years ago as a family, so much to see and do. The National Air and Space Museum was the kids favorite. Often our trips/traveling involve visiting with family/friends we have not seen in some time or uninterrupted family time. That what I enjoy most, the reconnecting. Enjoy the rest of your trip and take care of those feet! πŸ™‚

    1. Hey, at least there is something badass about me! I’m writing this after having been to the Air and Space Museum (got that photo of the Starship Enterprise for DH), and I can see why your kids liked it (though it wasn’t my #1). Big WOW factor going on there. It really is ideal to combine travel with family visits.

  5. Aw, take care of the blister. Comfy shoes are a necessity in DC. I’m hoping we can take Little Bit soon. I think she’s finally old enough to enjoy the museums without getting too bored. That said, I think I’ll shoot for a cooler month than July.

    And treating your hosts to a nice meal is maybe it’s the classy part of fruclassity?

    1. There you go, Emily. Thanks for helping me our with that “classy” reference. And I’ll just say “yes” to that. I have been taken aback by the heat here – though it really shouldn’t be surprising. I think a 7-year-old would like the Museum of Natural History for sure, and perhaps the Air and Space Museum. Lots for Little Bit to look forward to!

  6. Sounds like a great trip! Washington DC is a terrific frugal destination because so many of the attractions are free. I really admire your walking everywhere (especially with that blister) as I wouldn’t be up to doing that anymore. As much as I love to travel and explore, I find that relaxation trips are more my speed these days.

  7. Ouchy! Ruth, didn’t you wear sneakers? Oh my goodness! I made hubby and son look at that picture. I figured if I did, they had to too. πŸ™‚ And thanks for “buskers”, I looked it up and will now use it often, just to mess with people and see if they know what it means. πŸ˜› We’ve passed through DC often on the way up and down the coast over the years, but never checked out the museums. Many years ago we drove past the White House when you still could. Ah, the good old days … Anyhoo, I’m so happy for you Ruth! God bless you all and your trip. πŸ™‚

    1. DH advised me to wear running shoes instead of sandals, but I didn’t listen to him. I should have! I would have had very hot feet, but at least i’d have no blisters. When I came to DC back in high school, we had a guided tour of parts of the White House. It is sad that those days are gone.

  8. Sounds like you are having an amazing trip Ruth! I have never been to Washington D.C., but it is definitely on my list of places to visit. I will totally check out all the museums as well when I get there πŸ™‚

    P.S. Hope your blister gets better!

    1. It’s a great frugal destination, as Gary says. Free museum visits – and more museums than I would have thought possible. Thanks for your wishes for my blister (but it still looks pretty awful).

  9. I’m in DC right now for the first time and we may have crossed each other, as we have been to many of the same places the last couple of days. I brought hiking sandals, and wish I had brought something that I could wear socks with. We really enjoyed going to Arlington National Cemetary. It’s funny you descibe it as warm and sunny. We are like, it’s so hot and humid! We live in he mountains with very little humidity, so the air feels so thick to us. We finally broke down and got a cab once today. That’s after walking over 9 miles one day and 8 miles another. We had planned to take a bus, but we waited for about an hour at a stop and the bus never came. Oh well. Enjoy your trip!

    1. Ha! I wonder if we did pass each other? You are right about the humidity. We were at first happy with the sun (as we’ve been sun deprived in our own weirdly rainy city this summer), but gradually started to find the sauna conditions a bit much. The air conditioning has been most welcome! Enjoy the rest of your trip too! Thanks for your comment : )

  10. File that under stuff I didn’t need to see while eating breakfast. πŸ™‚ The museums in DC are pretty cool! I haven’t been there since I was a teenager. It’s funny what you said about the buildings. I don’t think it’s that impressive compared to so many other places that are much older, like Europe. Probably NY is pretty impressive to a first-time visitor. And as far as spending money on food, you can be somewhat frugal, but yeah you are traveling and also celebrating so I wouldn’t worry about it too much!

    1. Sorry Tonya! I think that architecture is cool if it’s different from what you’re accustomed to. I’m pretty easy to impress these days since I haven’t traveled in so long. I noticed that the food available in DC was very healthy – you would approve : )

  11. Sounds fun! (But ouch to the blister.) I love that the museums in DC are free and so well-done. I thought I would never be able to tear my husband out of the Air and Space museum. And I agree that treating your hosts to a good meal is the classy thing to do!

    1. My sister and I said that if we ever went with our husbands to DC, we’d have to spend an hour or so together at the Air & Space Museum, and then my sister and I would take off somewhere else. Divide and conquer is the way to go sometimes : )

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