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First Trip Alone

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New York City, New...
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First Trip Alone

I am a 20-year-old college student, and I am going on a trip alone to D.C. for a few days (however many days my budget permits) this summer. I have never traveled alone before, so I am clueless about how to plan. I don't know how to plan where to stay, how to travel when there, what to do, etc. FYI, my budget/available fund is ~$1200. Is this enough for a trip alone? If it's more than enough, I might plan another trip to another city...perhaps Boston. I live in NYC btw.

So please any suggestions/advice please, especially about transportation and a place to stay. I don't drive btw, and a plane is a no-no.

Arlington, Virginia
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1. Re: First Trip Alone

First, good for you for wanting to take on the unknown. You should do a lot of reading on this forum, but fortunately visiting D.C. from NYC isn't that hard. With $1200, I'd say you can have a very comfortable four night, five day trip, which is the generally recommended length for a nice but not in depth visit to D.C.

First, transport. You have two options as you don't drive or fly: bus or train. Bus is cheaper. There are lots of bus companies that do this route, but www.boltbus.com seems to be one of the most popular. It will take you from Manhattan to downtown D.C. Check out their schedule and prices. It's a 4 to 5 hour ride each way, depending on traffic. The other option is Amtrak (www.amtrak.com). There are two types of train on this route, the slower, older regional trains, and the newer faster Acela. You don't really need to book the Acela, and the earlier you book the regional train the cheaper it will be. Rates of about $70 each way are possible on the regional. Travel times are about 3 hours depending on which train you take. For me, the comfort of the train beats the bus.

Next, lodging: DC has hundreds of hotels, for most any price point. Set a nightly budget, then find the best hotel you can in a tourist-friendly location for your budget. There's no sense in talking specific hotels until you pick the dates you are coming, as rates fluctuate from day to day. Later in the summer you should have little trouble finding a good hotel for about $120 a night, provided you are willing to stay in the three star hotel range rather than the five star hotel range.

How to get around here: Metro, metro, metro. It's like the NYC subway, but doesn't run as many places and has a more complex fare structure. Read about it here. Whatever you do, you'll want to make sure you book a hotel close to Metro, so that you can get there easily from the bus / train station and then get to all the tourist sites.

What to do: read this forum. There are many threads with example itineraries, and also trip reports on what people enjoyed. Everyone has different tastes. You should have little trouble filling four days with things you find to be fun.

Good luck, and feel free to post follow-up questions in this thread.

Washington DC...
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2. Re: First Trip Alone

If you decide to stay near Dupont Circle, which is a great area for tourists and residents, the DC2NY bus will take you to the circle instead of Union Station. http://www.dc2ny.com/ And so with the Washington Deluxe buses. http://www.washny.com/

washington dc
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3. Re: First Trip Alone

First of all - DC is about the easiest city in the world to be a tourist in. There are hundreds of free things to do and they are all pretty centrally located. So basically you could drop yourself on the mall with no plans and spend the whole 4-5 days completely happy & entranced. But there is much more to the city! Especially for a solo traveler, you probably don't want to spend all day in museum after museum and every evening alone in a hotel room.

If you haven't picked your exact dates yet, start checking online for specific events or exhibits that might interest you. Check www.si.edu. and the National Art Gallery. July offers the Smithsonian Folk life festival and the Capitol Fringe Festival - a 2 week arts festival which is especially good for a solo traveler as it is an easy place to meet people. https://www.capitalfringe.org/ Check out events at the uber-hip Sixth & I synagog. washingtonpost.com/local/sixth-and-i-histori…

Local blogs. www.popville.com & www.dcist.com will give you tons of special events info plus real local perspective. Also www.washingtoncitypaper.com.

For lodging - you want to be in the city itself, and within 3-4 blocks to a Metro Station. For lodging, Airbnb.com is a perfect option for you. It is cluttered with over 1,400.00 listings, and can be hard to sort through but take some time and figure out the search features. It is much easier with exact dates. Narrow your search by neighborhood - Columbia Heights, Dupont Circle, U St. Adams Morgan - anything in NW really. Feel free to post the exact listing number of any place you are considering.

Have a great trip.

Use some basic sense - yes, there are flakes and fakes, but lots of very good places that will put you in a real neighborhood at a great price. Anything thing that seems to good to be true is.

Washington DC...
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4. Re: First Trip Alone

If you decide to go a hotel route, make sure you check the age requirement. Sometime you have to be up to 25 years of old to rent a hotel room.

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5. Re: First Trip Alone

I will be travelling to DC in July and found good hotel deals. If you are looking to save on hotel, the Marriott hotels offer discounted rates for stays arriving on a Thursday - Saturday and departing on Sunday or Monday starting from $79.00 per night. I find it cheaper to stay in Crystal City (near Regan National Airport) and take the metro to downtown. The Marriott Gateway in Crystal City sits on top of the metro. There is also a mall with a host of shops and restaurants underground which I find safer at night if you don't care to venture out on the streets. The tours will pick you up from that area if you desire a day or night tour. I command you for exploring adventure on your own at such a young age.

New York City, New...
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6. Re: First Trip Alone

I've been looking at hotels, and I've picked out Dupont Circle and Georgetown as potential neighborhoods I will stay in, particularly because of night life. I've found several posts that say what neighborhoods I should avoid, and I will adhere to them. However, what neighborhoods besides Georgetown and Dupont Circle have a good night life, shops, places to eat, etc.? Also, on Hotwire, I've found some hotels around $100, but it doesn't say the exact name of the hotel.

For example, www.hotwire.com/hotel/details.jsp…

Next, I've got some places I want to visit. I might add some more after I meet up with a friend that lives in D.C. and ask her for some suggestions that are not considered "must-sees." Do you think this is all doable in 3 nights and 4 days? As for schools, I want to visit the medical schools since I plan on applying and I might as well have a glance at them while I'm there. Also, I would like to see Georgetown and GWU since they are well-known schools, meaning I can cut the other visits short if needed. Next, I'm a big eater, so I plan to eat a lot! :) (That's one reason I want to stay in a place with a nightlife. First and foremost, please help me with the hotel situation!

Washington D.C. To-Do-List

-Visit schools

-American University

-George Washington University

-George Washington University Law School

-George Washington University Medical School

-Georgetown University

-Georgetown University Law Center

-Georgetown University School of Medicine

-Nationals Game

-National Mall

-Lincoln Memorial, Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Korean Was Memorial, White House, Washington Monument, Holocaust Memorial Museum, Natural Museum of Natural History, National Archives, National Air and Space Museum, U.S. Capitol

-National Zoo

7. Re: First Trip Alone

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