Land of the Free(bies)

As self-proclaimed frugalitarians, we love to find good deals when we travel. We especially love to find freebies…and our most recent vacation was full of them!

Our trip to the airport in Nashville began with a free dinner – a foot-long sub from Speedway – courtesy of our Speedy Rewards Card. To that we added a free soda, from of all places a Wendy’s inside the airport. This was an unintended freebie which I scored for being nice. The person in line before me was rude. She actually called the cashier names. I apologized for this stranger and told the young cashier not to take it to heart, business travelers were almost always stressed. She smiled and gave me a large soda.

As we sat waiting for our flight to Philadelphia, I got a Facebook message from an old friend who happens to work at Eastern State Penitentiary, a National Historic Landmark and one of the most haunted places in America. She offered us 2 free tour passes. We quickly accepted and added this unexpected detour to our itinerary.

I have to say, I really enjoyed touring ESP and I’m pretty sure Angie did too. The building and grounds are very unique and interesting but the temporary exhibit, Prisons Today, is worth the admission price all by itself. It’s astounding how much it costs to incarcerate someone in the US and how many things we consider a jailable offence in contrast to other countries. Our visit to ESP was enlightening.

Other freebies we enjoyed in Philly included running Rocky’s staircase at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, touring Fairmount Water Works (another National Historic Landmark), and walking the beautiful Schuylkill River Trail, where we stopped on two occasions to have lunch with some rather friendly geese.

Our free adventure continued in New York City where we visited the 9/11 Museum. It is free on Tuesdays after 5 PM. We also had lunch in Central Park and walked around Times Square. I’d love to say that we got out of NYC without spending a dime but that would be a gross misstatement. Between tolls, parking, and subway fares, our day trip to the Big Apple cost us close to $100…but it was so worth it!

We did manage to go to Atlantic City with losing any money though. Of course, we never set foot in a casino. We visited the beach instead.

Over the past 2 weeks, we’ve traveled through 7 states, including Washington, DC.

Our nation’s capitol is full of fun free things to do. From visiting one of the 11 Smithsonian museums on the National Mall to touring the White House, there’s something for everyone, and we tried to enjoy as much of it was could. Our stops included the Air & Space Museum, Museum of Natural History, the Washington Monument (which was closed again this year), and the International Spy Museum. The Spy Museum wasn’t free but we did get a Groupon for BOGO admissions. We got around via the DC Connector, which because of a glitch with the ticket machine was also free.

On the only rainy day we had, we took advantage of our Coke Rewards points to get 2 free AMC movie tickets, 2 free drinks, and a free popcorn to watch The Girl on the Train. It wasn’t bad but I’m glad it was free.

Even free can be expensive though. Huh? Yes, despite all the free things we did on our vacation, the trip cost a total of $1,993 (including airfare, lodging, transportation, food, entertainment, and souvenirs). It would have been cheaper if not for our Airbnb disaster. We only received a partial refund from that.

Regardless of the cost, we had a great time rediscovering America. We are very happy to live in the land of the free 🙂


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