Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Buddy Friday: Vacation Travel Tips and Tricks

Well, it's that time of year again when everyone starts to get the travel bug. I shared my birthday with Easter this year and did not feel like cooking and having everyone to my house. Instead, we took a short family trip down to Washington, D.C. to see our eldest daughter who is in college down there. It was a great birthday gift!
Now, the only time we had spent in D.C. previous was pretty much to bring her down or take her home and we basically did it in one day. (a 12 hour journey there and back with the least amount of traffic). We had never stopped to see the sights or smell the roses. This time was different. This time we left home on Saturday morning and returned on Tuesday evening. We had a great time and learned a little bit how to travel on mass transit around a large city. We live in a small town, near a larger town that only has bus transit. It takes us around 20 minutes to get where ever we have to go in our car and that is our only mode of transportation. When you live in the city, things are different.

1. It takes lots of time to get anywhere between walking to a metro stop and riding the metro. Have lots of it on your hands.

2. Take time to learn how the mass-transit system in the area works. Will you have to switch trains to reach your destination? Do you have to reach a certain stop to do that? (for more information on the DC Metro, please visit she has excellent pictures and descriptions of the Metro on her "My World Tuesday" April 13 post.

3. Stop at the information desk and ask. That is what they are there for. Listen very closely to the directions. Ask to have them written down. That is what they are there for. They gave us something that looked like a hall pass for school with all the transfers and stops that we needed.

4. Don't worry about looking like a tourist--you ARE! We carried a camera bag and a backpack and a tote bag.

5. Carry your water and your lunch with you. We noticed that many, many people are opting for a picnic from home on a park bench or the ground. They brought their coolers with sandwiches and drinks and plopped right down. It didn't matter if we were at the zoo or on the National Mall (where all the monuments are located).

6. ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS have each member of your family wear their cel-phones and have them turned on. I was overwhelmed by the size of the area and by how easy it was to lose track of my family members. That was very stressful. (oh--btw, all the phones except my husbands were tucked safely away in my purse!)

Don't pack too many activities into your day!!! It takes time to get around the city and you don't want to cut yourself short on that. We had 2 activities planned each day. Sunday morning we went to the National Zoo and had planned to have lunch at a nice restaurant a stop away at 2:15. We could have spent a lot more time at the zoo and brought a picnic to boot. No one is spending $3 on water and $3.75 on PB&J, let me tell you. We did make it to the restaurant in plenty of time and had a nice leisurely brunch with our daughter. Monday's schedule was a little tighter.

The next morning we met our daughter on campus and she took us on the metro to the National Mall. We spent the morning there and had 2:05 reservations at the International Spy Museum, several blocks away. We could have spent ALL DAY on the mall, picnicing, taking pictures of all the monuments. We only saw 3 of them because of time constraints as the tickets for the Spy Museum were purchased in advance.

We left the mall hurriedly, got on the metro going in the WRONG direction (my eldest daughter was no longer there to navigate), got off 2 stops later and turned around. Got on the right direction, off at the right stop and RAN to the museum across the street. WHEW! Just made it! We went on an interactive experience there called "Operation Spy". It's great for the 7-14 year old boys. Not so much for the teenage girls. My son, who at 12 is not easily impressed, had a fantastic time. We left the museum, went back to school for my daughter and went out to dinner for my birthday that evening. The trip was a success, she looks fantastic, and we are home now. It was a great birthday. Enjoy your vacations, make the most of them. Take time to learn the local transit systems, pack your lunch but not your day and have fun!!!
for more Buddy's Friday posts, please visit Margaret's Ramblings.


Margaret's Ramblings said...

I couldn't count the hours I have wasted by not preparing in advance of where I was going. I'm a bit wiser these days - keep my energy (once you get past a certain age you need to), going where I want to instead of going around in circles. Great post.


Gill - That British Woman said...

I totally agree with what you said, pre-plan. It also costs nothing to ask people especially locals about what is the best place to visit etc, and of course the internet is your best friend for pre-planning.

Great timely post.

Gill in Canada

Denise said...

Hi Laurie, very nice post and thanks for the link. I have also added your link to my post. Have a great weekend.

Envelope Printing said...

It's really important to have a map of the transportation system. And its a MUST for everyone to have their cellphones! It's really stressful having to look for a member when you've split your ways.

Lawrence said...

All those vacation travel tips are useful... I'm completely agree with your suggestions!! Thanks for sharing!!

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