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Glad to hear you're exploring the east coast! And here're some useful things will help your bus trip to the US East Coast. I'm in DC and although I've never actually traveled DC to Philly on one of the buses, I would suggest checking into it, as they would probably be less expensive than Amtrak (although take longer, so it will be a trade off). Agree with antoniab - I've never heard good things about the Chinatown bus, but BoltBus and Megabus all get good reviews from my friends. If you Google "DC to Philly bus" you'll get some options to look at.

Public transport in DC is super easy and not too expensive -- can I just ask one favor? As a "traveler good-deed", when you're using the DC Metro and you're riding on the escalators, stand on the right, walk on the left! :) Metro personnel and the unhurried folk on the trains are normally very helpful. The metro and buses will definitely be crowded during rush hours (7:30-9:30am and 5-6:30pm seem to be the peaks).
www.wmata.com This is the metro website, and you can figure out the exact fare of where you'd like to go.

East Coast Tours

You can find inexpensive food options in DC - actually, I can even recommend most of the food carts that are stationed around the city. Lots of my friends from work frequent different carts when they're near our office, and most of them are awesome.

If I had to guess, I would say one day of food can range anywhere from $20 to $50, just depending on how much you're willing to go cheap.

Take the tipping advice from SeeTheSky - cab drivers will expect a tip, but it doesn't sound like you'll be using taxis.

Being from DC, I can of course come up with enough stuff to occupy you for waaaaay longer than 6 days. :) But it seems like you have a good balance. Just be sure to figure in that alot of the trips, whether you go by train or by bus, are going to be pretty far, we're talking 2-3 hours MINIMUM.

Hope you have an awesome trip, and post some pix up here for us! I'm definitely a Megabus.com fan - although I never had any luck with wifi on the buses I've been on.

East Coast Tours

Ideas I've used to save money (I'm doing an East Coast bus trip as well with my daughter):

1. Take a bus that runs from 11pm to 9am or something and sleep on the bus while you travel, you'll save yourself hotel fare. Well, I guess there's luggage storage to consider...(I have kids along the Eastern states so I can just backpack it and wash my clothes there :)

2. Union Station at DC has Mcdonald's and they have a dollar menu. Plenty of people sleep in the chairs at the Amtrak waiting area. Au Bon Pain is in there and is open all night and you can get wifi but they have no plugs. There are plugs at Union Station in the large pillars that surround the Amtrak waiting station. But some in the back by the phones don't work. There's wifi at the Amtrak waiting area.

3. At Union Station they have a place that will hold your luggage while you sight see - although it's expensive in my book. (Think it's $30 a day or $6 an hour or something like that...goes by size.)

4. Every major city has a metro bus website. I like to download and print schedules and maps before I go. DC metro is soo confusing to me!! But cheap and very convenient.

5. Every major city has a McD and they have a dollar menu. Most chain restaurants have a dollar menu now. (Although I highly recommend local food!!!)

All the national museums and zoo in DC are free. Personally, I'd go with the American History Museum and Space Museum first. We can usually only do one museum in day. In NYC, pay attention to whether the entrance fee says "suggested donation" - meaning paying is optional, you can throw in a dollar if you want. I started making a list of free things to do in NYC...here's some websites I had: Seems lots of places have "free" days or times. I'd definitely do the whole Staten Island Statue of Liberty thing and Central Park.