Ms. Travel Chic: Travel Tips for Presidential Inauguration

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Travel Tips for Presidential Inauguration

Hello! **waves** I've been back from Italy 2 weeks now and I can't wait to share my recap with you! However before that I'm going to interrupt our regularly scheduled programming with this quick blog post!

On Nov. 6th, 2013 our country Re-Elected Barack Obama as the 44th President of the United States! As the first African American President, his 2008 Inauguration was historic and I was blessed to be in D.C. to witness it! Well history is repeating itself and everyone is once again planning to head to our nations capital on January 21, 2013 to share in this moment with friends and family!


I'm sure if you've done a quick check on flights, hotels, etc. you are already overwhelmed! So here's some info and tips based on my 2008 Inauguration trip and my research thus far for the upcoming inauguration:


Transportation
Depending on where you live, you've got several options to get to D.C: Rail, Flight and Bus.

If you've got airline miles USE THEM! In 2008 I ended up paying $5.00 (tax) for my flight by redeeming 25,000 frequent flyer miles. Checking today flights are anywhere from $150 to $300 to D.C., which is great compared to 2008 prices!

Keep in mind Washington D.C has two airports, Ronald Reagan and Dulles.(http://www.metwashairports.com/default.htm
Reagan airport is 5 mi from D.C. and the MetroRail commuter train is located at the terminal allowing for convenient access into the city. Dulles is 25 miles away and will require a taxi ride into the city. 
Also keep in mind nearby regional airports like, Baltimore Airport, Philadelphia and even New York City offer Amtrak service into D.C. 
For the 2008 Inauguration I had friends who flew into those airports because of lower fares and then took Amtrak regional service direct into D.C. (www.amtrak.com)

Greyhound - The bus used to get a bad rap but service and accommodations have improved. Traveling by bus is the cheapest option but will make for the longest travel. When I visited D.C. for the first time in 2005 we took a Greyhound to NYC roundtrip for less than $80! For the 2012 inauguration Greyhound from Dallas to D.C. is only $89/one way. With high gas prices, opting for the Greyhound vs. road trip may be your best bet! (http://www.greyhound.com/)

Don't just book the first flight you see, get creative with your travel plans! Search one way train, rail or bus tickets. Perhaps you fly to D.C. but take the bus back. Saving money is key:-)


Navigating D.C
I love D.C. because it's such an easy city to navigate through! No car needed with the great bus and metrorail system they have in place. All the major landmarks: National Mall, Capitol Building, Lincoln Memorial, Smithsonian Museums are all within walking distance and nearby train stations. 
We never experienced any major delays or confusion. They are prepared and planning ahead for the crowds. 
Check it out:  http://www.wmata.com/getting_around/metro_events/inauguration.cfm?nocache

Lodging 

Honestly, this is a tough one! Anticipating the crowds that will gather for the Inauguration, the hotels hike up hotel prices dramatically :-( 
If you have hotel points, corporate discounts, AAA, AARP discount, Groupon, etc. by all means use them and BOOK NOW! I was fortunate enough to book a room at a hotel 3 blocks from the White House at a reasonable rate utilizing a corporate discount.
Expand your hotel search beyond the D.C. city limits. Baltimore, MD; Arlington, VA; Alexandria, VA; Fairfax, VA are all surrounding cities with commuter rail connections via Metro or Virginia Railway Express (http://www.vre.org/service/staloc.htm)
In 2008 we stayed in Alexandria, VA, walked a couple blocks to the train station and took a quick ride into D.C. daily. Rental car fees, parking woes and expensive taxi rides avoided!
..and obviously if you have friends or family in the area ask to crash on their couch!

So search for a cheap hotel outside of D.C. , map out the nearest Metro or commuter rail stop and BOOK!

(orbitz.com or hotels.com)

Event Tickets

A limited amount of official tickets to the inauguration day festivities are only given out by your local senator or representatives. You must contact them via phone, email, mail (or all three) to get tickets. Capitol employees, lobbyists, corportations also get access to tickets so start networking and work on a "hook up" Here is the official site of the Presidential Inauguration Committee http://www.inaugural.senate.gov/
 No ticket? No problem? The entire area surrounding the inauguration will be open to the public and jumbotrons set up all around. We didn't get "official tickets" but being in the crowd to witness history is awesome, no matter how close or far your seat (or standing room space) is located!  
There are also several official and unofficial balls that take place during the weekend festivities. The ticket everyone scrambles for is to one of the official balls where POTUS and FLOTUS make an appearance. 
More info can be found on this site: http://www.presidential-inauguration.com/getting-tickets/
We were able to get free tickets to the Black Tie & Boots Ball. Since this is a" unofficial ball" The POTUS and FLOTUS didn't show up but we enjoyed live music, food and drinks at the beautiful Gaylord for $0!  I'm sure there were Texas politicians there but we didn't really pay attention.
While risky, Craigslist.com  is a great resource for Inaugural tickets. Plenty of staffers and capitol employees get access to these events but have no desire to attend so sell them for cash.

Whatever you decide to do I would say DO IT NOW! Don't delay! Flights, hotels, bus seats, etc. will fill up quickly! 


So who's in for a 2012 Inauguration trip?

God Bless America!

Questions? toyanicole@mstravelchic.com and "LIKE" my Facebook page for deals and tips!

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Few of my pics from the 2008 Inauguration