Some people think they are savvy travelers. You know the type, endlessly bragging about how they got the best deal on a plane ticket, how they found a five star hotel for $99 a night. But what about after they get there? Chances are they blow their hard earned money on every overpriced tourist attraction forgetting all the money they've saved and mindlessly emptying their pockets to gain access into a city's cultural highlights. Don't be that guy.
Here's a tip for gaining access into almost any museum, for free. Do your homework, a bit of web research, and find out what days are free.
Almost every major cultural institution has a free day once a month. First Fridays (or sometimes Thursdays) are popular amongst art museums in the United States, but it may vary from country to country. Even the Vatican Museum is open for free once a month...but can you imagine that line?
In the past few years, corporate sponsorship has become a popular way for institutions to allow you free access to their collections. Target, in particular, has become a huge sponsor of free nights at museums throughout the US, the most popular being the Museum of Modern Art in New York which is open free to the public every Thursday evening.
Another semi-annual event started in the United States is Museum Day organized by Smithsonian Magazine. Every six months institutions throughout the US allow entry for free with a free admission card (printable from the internet) allowing every city to experience the privilege of entering a museum for free, like the lucky residents of Washington, DC do every day.
If you do have to pay, make sure you know your options. If you're a student, by all means bring along that student ID. Also, check with your local institutions before you go. Often museums will offer reciprocal free visits if you're a member of an affiliated museum. Memberships typically cost $40-60 per year and you could support a local favorite while enjoying money-saving benefits. And finally, check out all those tourist card offers. If you're going to be hitting up a lot of museums, it may just be worth it to get a all-inclusive pass. You'll save money, and often time waiting in line.
Do you have any tips for seeing museums on the cheap?