You Can Avoid These Mistakes & Enhance Your DC Experience
The U.S. Travel Association says that the use of travel agents has been declining rapidly since the dawn of the Internet. Today, most people plan their own vacations on the Internet. Individuals have more information than ever, but there are very few filters that can help you separate the good information from the bad. In the 1980s, your average traveler visited a local travel agent to plan his vacation. The agent recommended an itinerary, restaurants, hotels, airlines, etc. Today, most people role the dice. As a result, many people do not enjoy their vacation because they make mistakes in planning. Here are the four worst:
1. Failing to “Get the Lay of the Land”
This is the worst one, because if you avoid this mistake, it clears up the rest. Let me be plain: take a bus tour on your first day. They never sound sexy, but you’ll end up having a great time if you pick the right tour. You need a tour where your tour guide will get off the bus with you. Hop-on, hop-off tours are great for the tour company because they can sell your seat 10 times over, but you end up waiting in line for the next bus with an empty seat (see #3) and you don’t really get to experience anything. Make sure the company you are using has licensed tour guides. Many companies do not, and some don’t even have live tour guides on the bus, they use recordings.
If you take the right tour on your first day, you end up getting the lay of the land and you can ask your tour guide about what else you should see. They can give you tips for shopping nightlife, entertainment, restaurants, and how to avoid long lines and tourist traps. We suggest you take the DC It All Tour. It is the only comprehensive guided tour in DC, and it includes a boat cruise on the Potomac River to see the Monuments.
2. Wasting Hours of Your Vacation in Long Lines
Over 2 hours for the Washington Monument. More than an hour in traffic to get to the Georgetown marina. Waiting an hour for the next trolley or double-decker bus to come by with an empty seat.
Think about doing those things in 100 degree heat, or in the rain, or in the cold. Is that why you are going on vacation? Don’t waste that much of your precious holiday time. If there is a long line, there is probably a better way to do it. Choose the Old Post Office Tower instead of the Washington Monument. Find out the best time to travel to and from Georgetown or Old Town Alexandria to avoid the traffic. Save time by taking an efficient sightseeing tour that will show you all the stuff you want to see in an efficient format (we suggest the OnBoard DC It All! Tour). Again, ask your hotel concierge or call an OnBoard Ambassador at 301-839-5261 to figure out how to circumvent the lines and save time (and money!).
3. Wrong Hotel
Booking the wrong hotel will ruin your trip. There are countless ways you can go wrong here. The most common is that the hotel doesn’t look the same as it did online. The room is shockingly tiny, the paint is peeling, the bedspread is polyester, there’s no closet in the room, etc. Many people choose hotels in remote suburbs, thinking they are saving money. However, when subways stop running or become too inconvenient, you end up paying for taxis, which eats up your savings. Even worse, you can spend two hours per day commuting to your hotel (they always advertise it’s 15 minutes away) and waste more than 15% of your vacation. You are better off finding reasonably priced hotels near the center of the action.
4. Wrong Restaurants
Without a travel agent to tell you where to eat, what are you going to do? You’ll go to Olive Garden, Applebee’s, Outback Steakhouse, or some other chain you are familiar with so you don’t risk bad food at a high price. This is the WORST thing you can do. Find someone to recommend local unique restaurants. NEVER eat in a high traffic tourist area. That spells bad food at high prices. Those places stay in business because they don’t need repeat business. Find a small place out of the way. They are still in business because locals keep going back for the great food. In DC, there are FANTASTIC restaurants of all varieties in Georgetown, Adams Morgan, Alexandria, and other neighborhoods. Ask your hotel concierge. Or call an OnBoard Ambassador at 1-301-839-5261. Read reviews on Yelp.com or Zagat.com.