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National Mall Transportation Tips

Posted by on Aug 11, 2017 in Travel | 0 comments

Lincoln memorial

The National Mall in Washington D.C. is bigger and more spread out than many first-time visitors expect.

While seeing the sights usually means a lot of walking, you may want to switch it up at some point. Here are a few other transportation options.

 

DC traffic and Washington Monument

Car

Traffic often gets very congested as you get close to the Mall. However, it can be an even bigger challenge to find parking once you get there.

  • Sights around the Mall tend not to have designated parking.
  • You may be able to find street parking, but it’s tricky.
  • There are several parking garages in the area with varying rates.

Car + Metro

  • To avoid the traffic, leave your car at your hotel and take the Metro in.
  • You can also park in Metro lots for about $5/day and pay with your SmarTrip Card.
  • Metro lots are free on weekends and federal holidays!

If you’re still in the trip planning stage, be aware that many of the hotels closer to the Mall charge guests for parking.

DC Metro

Metrorail

Washington D.C.’s Metro (subway/underground) system is a really convenient way to get to and from the National Mall.

Smartrip fare machines dc

Bus

DC Circulator

  • The National Mall route goes from the Lincoln Memorial to Union Station, then around the other side of the Mall and Tidal Basin, back to the Lincoln Memorial.
  • Route maps are available online, as a printable PDF, or via mail. There’s also an interactive map for finding the stop closest to you.
  • Frequency: Every 10 minutes from 7am to 8pm (9am start time on weekends).
  • Fare: $1 per ride. Pay with cash or a SmarTrip Card.
  • Order in advance for a 1-day pass ($3) or 3-day pass ($7).
  • Not a guided tour, just a (cheap) transportation option – although it might be a good way to get at least a visual overview of the Mall.

Big Bus Tours

  • Commentary via recording or live tour guide.
  • 3 different hop-on/hop-off routes available.
  • Tickets: $39-49 for 1 day.
  • Wifi on board.
  • Sightseeing bus recommended by Destination DC.

National mall dc pano

Bicycle

There are bike racks throughout the Mall to lock up your bike while you visit a museum, monument, or gallery.

Rental

You can rent a bike for short rides via Capital Bikeshare.


 

Have you been to D.C.? How did you get around?

National mall sign

– Resources for Finding Your Way in D.C. –

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6 Travel Tips for Non-Morning People

Posted by on Apr 27, 2017 in Travel | 0 comments

north-beach-capuccino

I’m not particularly good at mornings. And, as much as I like the idea of jumping out of bed and tackling the day, I don’t magically transform into an early bird when I travel.

Here are a few things I’ve found helpful.

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1. Get organized for the next day.

Anything you can do the night before is one less thing you’re stumbling around trying to do in the morning.

Either shower at night or at least get your shower stuff set up. You’re not at home where everything is in a place you’re used to, so make it easier on your sleepy self. Unpack your razor and unwrap the soap. Make sure there’s a towel within reach.

Lo and Sons bag at tucson hotel

I also get out everything I’m planning to wear the next day, down to my skivvies. Finding out you need to iron a top or don’t have a crucial part of your outfit is a bigger issue when you’re traveling. I’d rather not have that type of surprise in the morning.

Getting your purse/bag/daypack stuff together, as well, will help make sure things don’t get forgotten in a last-minute groggy scramble.

Coffee

2. But first, coffee.

If you require morning caffeination, make sure you plan for that too. Figure out the coffeemaker in your room or pick out your tea or find a nearby coffee shop. Or if you’re particular enough to feel it’s worth the hassle, bring your own.

I like to set up the coffeepot the night before (sometimes doubling up on the coffee packets), so all I have to do when I get up is turn it on. Even if coffee comes with breakfast and even if the hotel does not have good coffee, I like having a hot cuppa right away while I get ready.

Hotel Indigo Anaheim

3. Plan for breakfast.

Stay somewhere that serves breakfast, find a spot nearby (check the hours ahead of time), or bring your own.

Easy BYOB(reakfast) ideas:

  • If there’s a fridge, you can pick up yogurt, local fruit, etc.
  • We like those individual oatmeal cups that you just add hot water to.
  • Trail mix or granola bars work pretty much anywhere. No kitchen required.

sf-san-remo

4. Time or sleep?

For me, a little extra time to ease into the day is even more beneficial than a little extra sleep. Even when it’s hard getting up, an earlier wake up time is better for me than having a rushed, hectic morning.

Maybe this is the case for you or maybe not. It’s worth paying attention to what works for you, even before your trip.

Hotel

5. Set multiple alarms.

Traveling often throws off your sleep cycle and routines, which can make it even more difficult to get up.

If you really need to be somewhere at a certain time – catch a flight, make a meeting or tour time – don’t count on just one thing to wake you up. Some ideas:

  • Set more than one alarm on your phone, but don’t rely only on your phone.
  • Request a wake up call (or two).
  • Don’t use black-out curtains. Allow natural light in.
  • If you’re traveling with someone else, ask them to wake you up (or knock on your door or call you) if they haven’t seen you by a certain time.

Downtown LA

6. Give yourself permission to sleep in.

If you have flexibility in your schedule, don’t make every morning an early one. Plan for some more relaxed days that allow a later start.

Of course, this requires some compromise if you happen to be traveling with a morning person. In that case, come up with a plan so that they’re not just going crazy in the room (and driving you crazy in the process).

Omni charlottesville
Things a morning person can do while you’re sleeping (i.e. take all that annoying AM energy elsewhere!):

  • Go for a run, swim, or work out.
  • Take a walk and get familiar with the area.
  • Bring you breakfast.
  • Visit a sight (or go do something) you’re not interested in.
  • Start on an activity you can join when ready. (Head to the beach, begin working their way through a large museum, etc.)

As much as you can, honor your natural rhythms instead of constantly fighting them. Resting better will help you make the most out of your trip.

co-ridgway-bnb-2




In case you’re curious, here’s where I took all the photos:

1. Tasting Tour in San Francisco
2 + 5. Hotel Indigo Anaheim
3. Residence Inn, Tucson (bag)
4. Candlewood Suites Yuma
6. San Remo Hotel in San Francisco
7. Hilton in San Jose
8. Downtown L.A.
9. Omni Charlottesville
10. Airbnb in Ridgway, Colorado

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Pancake-Making Machine

Posted by on Sep 14, 2015 in Travel | 0 comments

I read this story a few months ago about a fight breaking out over a breakfast buffet waffle that ended with 30 people getting kicked out of the hotel.

While I wasn’t able to verify the story, the point is that things can get messy around those self-serve hotel waffle makers. And I don’t just mean the dripping batter.

image

So I thought the Holiday Inn Express had an interesting solution to promote breakfast buffet peace: a patented machine that makes pancakes in a minute. I got to try one out and see the super secret inner workings. It’s pretty neat. You push a button and the batter inside the machine gets squished out and heated through, and in 60 seconds a pancake pops out on to your plate.

While the pancake machines (aka “Stack Stations”) are already in most Holiday Inn Express Hotels, they wanted more people to try them out. So they sent a blue truck out with a handful of pancake machines and something not available in hotels – a special laser etcher that puts your photo on a pancake.

image

So that is how I ended up, not with pancake on my face but with my face on a pancake.

image

If you would also like your face on a pancake, here’s the schedule:

  • Tempe Marketplace (today’s the last day!) – Sept. 14, 1-6pm
  • San Diego – Sept. 17-19
  • Long Beach – Sept. 21-22
  • Los Angeles – Sept. 24-27
  • San Francisco – Oct. 2-3
  • Oakland – Oct. 5-6
  • Sacramento – Oct. 9-11

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Also, rumor has it that if you signup for IHG rewards at the pancake truck, they give you 500 extra points and enter you in a drawing for more points and/or shwag. I get nothing from this, but I’m generally a fan of hotel rewards programs (I signed up for IHG’s awhile ago) and a bigger fan of free points, so I thought you’d want to know.

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Finally, here are Tammy and Jordyn. They were so excited about their pancake selfie, I just had to get a photo of them with it.

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Not really a disclosure: While I occasionally work with IHG, I didn’t get any special compensation for this post. The selfie pancakes are free for everyone. I just thought it was fun and that you might want to give it a try.

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Flavor souvenirs

Posted by on Feb 9, 2015 in Travel | 8 comments

“When I travel, I often try to mark the trip with a certain ingredient or smell. Usually it’s more than one, as I’m incredibly inspired when I travel. By setting these tastes and smells in my head, I can travel to these places once again…”

photo 5

In an interview with VSCO’s Journal, Not Without Salt blogger Ashley Rodriguez goes on to cite Moroccan preserved lemons, Italy’s sweet and grassy olive oil, and “chocolate sprinkles over buttered raisin bread” from the Netherlands as flavors that stayed with her after she was home again, like sensory souvenirs.

Elsewhere, I’ve read that research has shown that our sense of smell is the best at bringing back memories, so this is a brilliant strategy.

sangria-tucson

While I’ve done this a bit, unintentionally (with sangria, for example), her perspective inspires me to make it a conscious practice.

What tastes and smells transport you back to another place? Have you ever tried to capture them or re-create them when you returned home?

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Microblog_Mondays

It’s microblog Monday! Read more tasty little morsels over at Stirrup Queens.

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Pinterest boards for travelers

Posted by on Nov 17, 2014 in Travel | 2 comments

I’ve started a Pinterest place board with a map of sights and cities I’ve shared about here called Travelcraft Journal: explore. It’s kind of like a geography-based index to the blog.

tcj-pinterest-map

While you’re perusing Pinterest, here are my other travel-related boards you might like to check out too:

image

Some of these boards overlap a little, because I wanted each one to be able to stand alone. Looking at the map I realize I still have a lot of ground to cover. :)

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Microblog_Mondays

Microblog Mondays: A weekly roundup of short posts on the Stirrup Queens blog.

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