Thank you again to everyone who participated in last week’s Q&A. It was a huge success, and you definitely put my sleuthing skills to the test. With so many thought-provoking questions, there simply wasn’t time to answer all of them, so I’m giving one of the more in-depth questions my full attention and answering it here.
Reader caligold writes, “We are planning a trip to Washington, D.C., in August and have airfare already booked. I would like to find a better deal on hotels but do want a hotel in downtown D.C. (not suburbs), with an indoor pool and breakfast. We need 2 rooms for 5 nights and should qualify for a discount with AARP. Is there a nice hotel with these requirements for less than $170 per day? Also, can you give suggestions for transportation to and from Dulles Airport to downtown D.C. and to D.C. attractions? I have been told that a taxi is cheaper (for 4 adults) than a SuperShuttle van. Is this true? Will most taxis accommodate 4 adults with luggage (1 or 2 bags each)? Is taking a trolley tour (off and on at stops) better than taking the Metro? Thank you.”
This situation has (or will) happened to all of us when planning a trip. The airfare is booked, but now you have to figure out where to stay, how to get around, and what to do. For starters, take a deep breath. Booking and planning while unconscious can be extremely tricky and time consuming.
Begin your research at a trusted website, such as the destination’s tourism board or convention and visitors’ bureau (CVB), where you can find a slew of helpful information about lodging, transportation, activities, events, restaurants, and possibly even deals or discounts. The Washington, D.C., tourism site offers specials on hotels throughout the city. You can also search by neighborhood and type of lodging, which makes it easier to find exactly what fits your needs. For instance, I priced rooms in the downtown area starting at $89 per night (without taxes and fees) during August.
Once you find a hotel you think meets your criteria, read other travelers’ reviews of the property on our sister site, TripAdvisor. Here, you can read first-hand experiences of the hotel, as well as view everyday photos of the property. This is an important step, because many hotels are nothing like they seem online.
Next, compare prices on some of the major hotel providers’ websites, such as Hotels.com, Orbitz, and Priceline, to be sure you’re getting your money’s worth. You may even want to call the hotel directly and see if it is offering any specials that might apply to you.
As for transportation, I can say that shuttle prices are typically per person, whereas taxis are on a meter system, so if you can get a taxi that accommodates four passengers (and they do have them), it’s probably the cheaper option. Also, ask your hotel (once you have it booked) if it provides an airport transfer service, because you may be able to cut costs there as well.
And I will leave your final question open to my other readers, particularly those who are locals or regular visitors to the D.C. area: Which is the better option (the Metro or a trolley tour) for seeing the city? And why?
Editor’s Note: SmarterTravel is a member of the TripAdvisor Media Network, an operating company of Expedia, Inc. Expedia, Inc. also owns hotels.com.
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