Tips from a travel hacking expert on your upcoming trip to DC for the inauguration of our 45th president Donald J. Trump and hopefully for a certain special #DeploraBall ;)
Like most cities hosting yuuuuge events local prices, inbound flights, car rentals and accommodations will inflate similar to the surge rates on both Lyft and Uber...higher demand = higher rates! If you're like me and enjoy saving some extra $$ whenever possible you may find some of these tips useful especially if you're traveling in a group!
The DC metropolitan area has three major airports, Reagan National (DCA) which is located in DC and is on the metro subway line: https://www.wmata.com/schedules/maps/
Dulles (IAD) located in Virginia about 20 miles outside the city & Thurgood Marshall (BWI) centrally located in Maryland between Baltimore and DC. Of the three I actually prefer BWI, it tends to have faster security lines and less traffic and the car rentals tend to be cheaper.
BWI also has a MARC Train stop, if you’re staying in the City and using public transport.
IAD offers Bus to train service via: http://www.flydulles.com/iad/silver-line-express-bus-metrorail-station
If you're flying in a group there are a couple of other options that may be of interest as flights could be $50-$60 cheaper per ticket and save a family of four $200+
I did a couple of searches and round trip flights into Philadelphia (PHL) or Richmond (RIC) were noticeably less expensive during the dates of the inauguration. Also both of these cities are roughly less than 2 hours (approx 100 miles) away from DC and like BWI tend to offer better car rental rates. For a larger group this could mean essentially using the savings in the airfare cost to pay for a car rental.
As for where to stay if you plan to rent a car which I would highly recommend especially if you don't plan on staying in the city DC itself there are lots of options. If you're looking to save $$ I wouldn't try Virginia as anything close will likely be over priced. However hotels or AirBnb's around BWI from what I have seen are about half the price of options around DCA or IAD plus traffic on 95 (the highway between DC and Baltimore) is way better and can take as little as 35 minutes.
And the travel time to the capitol is actually quite good considering some closer options will take longer given how crappy traffic around DC, Maryland & Virginia tends to be.
Airbnb.com is also a great resource if you know where to look, Columbia Maryland is a good place to start as it's off of 95 between Baltimore & DC. Airbnb is pretty simple to use and the home owners are usually friendly and can be a great resource for local information.
**(Expert tip-likely better to avoid mentioning you are coming into town for the inauguration as Maryland is a very blue state! A weekend getaway with some sight seeing will likely get a much better response from the airbnb host!)
With airbnb it's also advised to pick at least 3-5 options and message all the hosts asking about their availability on your desired travel dates, booking before doing this isn't really advised especially with listings that don't have a history of being rented!
When you've narrowed your search down to your last choices I would also recommend using a site like areavibes.com to search the address of the home which gives helpful information about the address or zip code to people unfamiliar with an area.
Lastly for car rentals a lesser known option that could provide big savings is using something like flightcar which allowed travelers to rent from car owners rather than a car rental company. It's basically the Uber equivalent of car rentals. However they were recently bought out by Mercedes, from a quick google search I found similar companies which I don't have experience with but may still be good options: Turo, Getaround Inc and Enterprise CarShare.
Hopefully this helps and for last minute flights I typically like to use momondo.com skyscanner.com or fareboom.com because they give a lot of options of how to search for flights...and for those familiar with the term "hidden city" Skiplagged.com is your best bet!
Good luck, happy travels and we’ll see you in January!
Ps. if you still don’t like traveling by plane or by train…
check out our #DEPLORABALL50X campaign!