Eight easy steps for planning your perfect weekend getaway

Posted on Thursday, Dec 03, 2015

Are you tired of DC already? Has the Lincoln Memorial lost its grandeur? Does the Washington Monument not seem quite so tall? Sometimes it’s best to get out of town for a weekend. Luckily for you, DC is closely located to a number of cool cities in the region, and I’ve been to some of them! I recently took a weekend trip to New York City, and while I can say that I had a blast, there are some things I would have liked to know before planning the trip.

1. Choose a destination.

Much like Europe, the northeastern United States is home to a number of fun cities with their own distinct cultures. Possible destinations include New York City, Boston, Philadelphia, or alternatively, New Castle, Delaware! New Castle, home of actor and national treasure Ryan Phillippe, is a cheaper option than some of the bigger cities in the northeast, so if you love saving money and don’t need to have fun, be sure to check out New Castle, DE!

2. Take the bus

Once you pick a destination, the next step is to purchase your bus ticket. That’s right! I said bus ticket. While taking a bus may not be the most glamorous option, buying a ticket for a plane or a train is prohibitively expensive for the cash-strapped intern, so it’s best to make peace with this situation. You’re taking the bus, friend.
3. Book a hostel

Like plane and train tickets, booking a “nice” hotel is well out of financial reach for the lightly-impoverished intern. Hostels are a great alternative for young professionals with little to no money. Don’t expect a palace, and you may have to stay in the same room with a few friendly strangers, but you won’t be spending much time here anyway, so lock up your valuables and get out there!
4. Use public transportation

Most northeastern cities have decent public transportation systems, so be sure to make use of them. While they may seem a bit byzantine at first glance, these transportation systems are made so that theoretically anyone can understand them. If you’re observant and a quick learner, you may even come close to understanding the routes on your way out of the city!
5. Find fun things to do

Look at you! You’re in the city now! Don’t just sit around in your hostel with all those friendly strangers! Go out and find something fun to do! There are always interesting and educational things for the adventurous intern to do in major metropolitan areas. Museums and parks are stimulating, and local eateries and gastropubs are great ways to consume nutrients in style. If you have friends and family in the city, they or someone they know may be having a party or an adult gathering that you might be able to nose your way into. Just be assertive and don’t worry about imposing!
6. Put your phone away

You’re in one of the most interesting cities in the region! Don’t while away your time on your phone! Take in the sights and sounds and weird smells of the city! Phones are helpful for finding cool places to eat or calling the police, but don’t let that silly little screen get in the way of all those impressive city vistas!
7. Don’t sleep

Like I said in step three, you won’t be spending much time in your hostel. There are always interesting things to be doing in the city of your choice, so don’t worry about sleep! You can sleep when you’re dead or next weekend when you’re still exhausted from your trip!
8. Be responsible

While away from DC, as always, it’s important to be mindful of your actions. Aggravating the crack in the Liberty Bell isn’t becoming of a Texas A&M student, and neither is waking up in Staten Island. As PPIP/ANRP interns, we are representatives of our respective programs as well as our school, and this must be at the front of every student’s mind during our time in another city. While having fun is extremely important, being safe and responsible is also extremely important!
I hope you take this wisdom to heart, dear reader.  As a fellow traveler, these tips should be very helpful when it comes to planning your weekend away from DC. With that, I urge you to go forth and satisfy your wanderlust! Happy trails!
Jeff Guittard
U.S. Department of Commerce
Washington, D.C. - Fall 2015

Tags: getaway, planning, tips, travel, weekend