Category: DC

Plan an Awesome Vacation with These Pro Tips

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By , November 3, 2015 11:04 am

Are you a “Type A” travel planner that organizes every last detail of your vacations and leaves nothing up to chance? Or are you more of a “Type B” traveler who prefers to “wing it” and leave plenty of downtime for spontaneity?

Aside from living with your friends and family members, traveling together is one of the quickest ways to get to know the people around you…for better or for worse. Within just a short amount of time, it’s easy to tell how “travel compatible” you and your companions are, from sleeping habits to sightseeing styles and food preferences.

But regardless of your travel personality and goals, there are a few things you can do to set your trip up for success. Keep these pro tips in mind to plan a better vacation for your next trip.

Strategically Use Technology

Vacation is a wonderful time to temporarily disconnect from technology and un-glue your eyes from the screens that you look at every day. However, smartphones are incredibly useful to look up directions, read reviews to decide on a restaurant, and make reservations on-the-go. Try to focus your device usage on essential travel planning only so you can live in the moment and be observant of your new surroundings. Forbes and Huffington Post have published helpful lists of websites and apps recommended for travel planning.

Photo credit: Mr.TinDC via Flickr

Photo credit: Mr.TinDC via Flickr

Agree on Key Points of Interest

Chances are that there are a few key sightseeing points that everyone in your travel group can agree on. Over breakfast each morning, identify a travel goal or two for the day and plan your day around those sites. Depending on your group size and how safe your destination is, you may be able to split up between or after must-do attractions. The important thing is to be realistic about how much you can see and do in one day and not stress out about it…it’s vacation after all!

Scope Out Discounts

Looking for discounts while traveling can be time consuming, but it makes a huge difference if you’re on a limited budget. You can often find student discounts and military discounts online before your trip, and you can use mobile apps to find deals between activities along the way. Consider checking out deals sites, like Groupon, while out and about to find discounts on things to do at your destination. You can also ask your hotel concierge for coupons or deal recommendations nearby.

Photo credit: Ben Seese via Flickr

Photo credit: Ben Seese via Flickr

Leave Time for Randomness

Even if you’re a hardcore “Type A” traveler, it’s important to schedule in some downtime and set some time aside for randomness along the way. Some of the most memorable experiences that come out of travel are the ones that aren’t planned. These are the times to open yourself up to casual conversations with locals, other travelers, and friendly staff that can help you discover new things.

Look for Local Experiences

Sure, you can float from one organized tour group to the next and check every item off the sightseeing list in a popular travel guide, but where’s the uniqueness and authenticity in that? Some of the best travel experiences are the ones that locals who actually live in the area would do themselves on any given day. Check out our list of experiences by city for activity inspiration, and pick up local newspapers to learn about events going on nearby.

What’s your best vacation planning secret? Happy travels!

Non-Touristy Ways to Spend a Day in Washington, DC

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By , October 21, 2015 8:24 am

As our nation’s capital, Washington, DC is known as a huge tourist hub. This can be kind of fun if you’re a first-time visitor, but a bit annoying if you live here or visit often. When you think of ways to experience DC, images of the White House, museums, and monuments come to mind. However, there are lots of other ways to spend time in this lively city and get a feel for what it’s all about.

So put away that map and those Bermuda shorts, because today we’re ditching the tourist circuit and trying some new activities. These are some of our favorite non-touristy ways to spend a day in and around Washington, DC.

Trampoline Jumping Class

Do you have fond (or painful) memories about jumping on a trampoline in your best friend’s backyard as a kid? Relive those memories and make some ones in a DC trampoline jumping class. But in this class you’ll more than just jump. You’ll learn how to do somersaults, twists, and other aerial/gymnastic skills while getting a great workout too! This experience runs year-around and lasts for about 1.5 hours.

trampoline

Photo credit: Nico Aguilera via Flickr

Whiskey 101

If you work up a thirst from all that jumping, head to nearby Arlington, Virginia for a Whiskey 101 class. Here you’ll learn the basic differences between whiskey, bourbon, and scotch and how to sip and mix them at the DC School of Whiskey. This experience is also offered year-around, and you’ll be a whiskey pro in just an hour.

Personal Wine Class

But if wine is more your drink-of-choice, consider spending your day in a personal wine class to understand wine basics at a private club in Dupont Circle. Over an hour or two, you’ll get a personal lesson in wine from an industry professional and get the opportunity to ask as many questions as you want. Your instructor, Professor Laurent Guinand, is a wine expert that lectures about intentional wine business. Classes are often held conveniently after work hours and offered year-around.

Glassblowing Class

Another class definitely worth checking out in the DC area is a glassblowing class. Based in nearby Sperryville, Virginia, this class is made for students who have never been in a glassblowing studio before. You’ll learn the steps it takes to create beautiful hand-blown glass art through techniques like gathering, centering, blocking, marvering, and basic color application. Classes last for about two hours. You should wear a long-sleeve cotton shirt, jeans/khaki pants, and either leather or canvas shoes for your personal safety.

Photo credit: Trevor Smeaton via Flickr

Photo credit: Trevor Smeaton via Flickr

Beginner Belly Dancing Class

Have you ever watched belly dancing in a Bollywood movie and wondered exactly how they shake their hips like that? Well, you can find out for yourself in a DC belly dancing class designed for beginners. No experience is necessary, and you’ll learn the basic posture, shimmies, isolations, undulations, and traveling steps. Embrace the sounds of Middle Eastern music as you have fun and work your body in this friendly one-hour class. Stretch pants, close-fitting tops, and a hip scarf are recommended to wear, and you can dance barefoot or with ballet or rubber-soled jazz shoes on.

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