Hello from stop two of our 5-part USA trip! If you missed my Chicago spending diary, go check it out as I’ve shared everything we did and ate, too, so handy if you’re going there soon! It also explains more about how much we budgeted Next up in the city spending series is Washington DC. Disclaimer: this one will be slightly less exciting, as we were in DC so I could go to a conference, so expect a lot of ‘grabbed another coffee’ and Mr TBG doing walking tours to kill time while I was in sessions.

Prebooked items:

4 nights in a king room at the Marriott Washington Wardman Park for $758.01 total. We booked this very early as I knew accommodation close to the FinCon conference would get pricey!

1 baseball ticket for Mr TBG for $50.


So, we’re picking up where we left off at Chicago Midway airport here, so I’ll set the scene. We’ve just landed from a 1h25m flight from Chicago to DC (during which the seatbelt sign did not get switched off once, might I add), and made for the Uber pickup zone. Our original flight to DC had been cancelled and we’d been rebooked 3 hours later, so we didn’t end up getting an Uber on that end. So in true #financialoptimisation style, we moved those funds to justify an Uber this end instead. $19.60 later and we arrived at the Marriott Washington Wardman Park. The hotel wasn’t quite the trendy hub we’d become accustomed to at the Hoxton Chicago, but it was clean, tidy and fancy in a business sort of a way.

The day we landed was HOT AS BALLS so our first stop was a cold brew for me at $3.79, before we made for the touristy spots like the Washington Monument, the Whitehouse, the Lincoln Memorial, etc. We got the train part of the way (which is very easy to navigate) and spent $20 on two passes with credit ($2 for the card + $8 credit). To my surprise, Washington DC was one of the most beautiful cities I’ve ever visited. I didn’t think I was that bothered by architecture until this trip, but apparently I’m a bit of a building junkie now so I’m definitely going to start saying that at parties. There are no skyscrapers in DC because of tight building height regulations to protect government buildings, so it’s really unlike any other city you’ll see. Anyway, after a long, sweaty walk, we went to Georgetown for drinks where we spent $10, and then ate some delicious vegetarian Mexican food at Chaia. A final drink at a rooftop bar set us back $13, before a quick $9 Uber back to the hotel before the conference kicked off the next day.

Total for the day: $103.39


Day 1 of FinCon! Since I was at the conference all day, our spending was separate, but Mr TBG did some touristy stuff that you might find interesting, so I’m sharing that too.

I started my day with a $4 cold brew, and once I’d realised that there wasn’t as much free food as I’d hoped, spent $25 on lunch at the venue with some new pals I’d met. It was another scorching humid day in DC, so I did spend $9 on an Uber after I’d been home to change and shower before the kick-off party at the Smithsonian Museum of the American Indian. Food and drink was provided here, though, so I had no shame in spending another $14 on an Uber back from the event. After a few drinks I was more than ready for a cup of tea and a biscuit, so I spent $8.59 on some bouji cookies from the hotel shop.

Meanwhile, Mr TBG put another $5 on his train card, spend $32 on a baseball glove from Walmart, another $32 on food at a baseball game, and $10 on a locker as you’re not allowed to take backpacks into the sporting stadiums. In the evening, he did this Pay What You Like Lincoln Assassination tour, which is essentially free but you tip the guide accordingly. It’s a great way to see the city without spending a fortune on tours. He copied everyone else and tipped $15. 

Total for the day: $154.59


It was an early start at FinCon and the queue for free drip coffee was so long I was about to miss the keynote, so I went to the café and paid $6.30 for an almond milk cappuccino. I know, I know. Anyway let’s blow past that budget mishap. For lunch I spent $16.29 on a Wholefoods-style salad bar thing, and $2.42 on a giant cookie from Firehook Bakery. Then I spent $9 on two coffees for me and Brittany from According To My Calculation as she’d shouted our Uber the other night. Following an afternoon of breakout sessions, I spent $32 on beer at a meetup with some fellow Aussie attendees. 

Mr TBG spent his day doing an Arlington Cemetery tour which was another Pay What You Like situation. $15 later, he went to Chipotle for lunch to live his best US life. We met up for dinner at a sports bar and spent $55 on wings and beer like the healthy souls we are, and then spent $15 at CVS on some essentials like Reese’s Big Cups and some bug bite cream because I was being eaten alive by the local mosquitos.  

Total for the day: $162.01


I had planned to arrive at FinCon around 9.30, but the exhaustion from the travel and networking so far had knocked me for six. I snoozed my alarm a shameful number of times and eventually rocked up for the 11am breakout sessions, but not before spending $9 on coffee and water to hydrate and caffeinate. Since Mr TBG had already enjoyed the delights of Chipotle, I recruited some Americans to accompany me on my first visit. I spent $16 on a veggie burrito bowl with extra tortillas and guac. A bullet coffee at $5.50 saw me through the rest of the afternoon of back-to-back panel talks and workshops. Mr TBG spent $19 on Five Guys for lunch after doing a free tour of the Capital Building, and then spent $5.83 on water, as the local tap water had made a couple of people sick and I was getting paranoid. We reconvened for dinner and couldn’t decide where to go. We’d been recommended Ted’s Bulletin, but ended up going to The Diner in Adams Morgan as it was closer. Adams Morgan is a great area with restaurants and nightlife, so it’s well worth a visit. At The Diner we spent $34 including a 30% tip because the guy was great. It’s amazing for classic, simple Diner fare, and it’s open 24 hours!

Total for the day: $89.33


A 5am alarm and a 7.55am flight to New Orleans saw us booking another Uber to the airport. At $26 including tip, it was reasonably priced and the best way to get to Washington Ronald Reagan at tha time of day. 

Once we got to the airport we spent a novel $11 on two coffees as you could order from the little iPad at your seat without having to get up. With free snacks on board SouthWest airlines, that rounded out our Washington DC spending.

Total for the day: $37

Total for the trip: $546.32

Next stop New Orleans!