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Has anyone organised a trip to Washington D.C.

Discussion in 'School trips' started by sfglass, Jun 23, 2015.

  1. Does anyone currently run or has previously run a trip to Washington?

    I'm past the first hurdle of getting quotes from the travel companies for the essentials but there is so much to do in Washington, I'd like some advice on the essential must- sees or even relatively unknown things which you came across by chance but made a positive and lasting impact? Good places to eat with large groups? Best hotels you stayed in? The students we are taking are studying the Cold War and the Civil Rights movement.

    Any help will be gratefully received!
  2. blazer

    blazer Star commenter

    Can't speak for Washington but have taken several groups to Chicago. Feeding them isn't really a problem. As long as you don't go in the really busy times their pizza places and all you can eat buffets are really good value and will fill the kids up. They also always have the refillable sodas so they can fill themselves with pop for pennies.

    We always stayed in a youth hostel. If I would advise anything it would be stay in the downtown area rather than plump for a cheaper place on the outskirts. The bit extra you may have to pay in accommodation will be more than made up for in avoiding commutes in rush hour and the time wasted getting in and out. Plus the city is outside your door so in the evenings you can explore rather than being confined to the hotel in the burbs.
  3. Thanks for all that. We have been quoted for hostels and hotels and the difference is £50 for en-suite and twin rooms for the latter, which seems better value. It's the usual pressure being applied by the companies though to make a booking even before you have advertised the trip!
  4. blazer

    blazer Star commenter

    I always organised my own trips to the USA. I did get some quotes but they always came in between 50 and 75% more than DIY!

    What age are the kids?

    Happy to try and help, You can use pm if you like to ask questions.

    Two tips. Each member of the group needs an ESTA to get into the US ($14 each, applied online). However check the nationalities of all the group. The ESTAs only apply to certain nationalities.

    If they don't qualify for the ESTA then it is a visit to the US embassy in London and applying for a visa. Last time I had to do this with a kid (2010) the visa cost her parents £72 plus the costs of getting down to London.
  5. Thanks for the tips. They are all 16-18 in age and originally the companies suggested shared beds! (In US double beds are the norm and not so much twins). This pushes the prices up considerably when getting singles and then the fact that we can only travel in the first week of July, hits the US holiday period. We are getting prices for decent hotels and hostels for 6days/4 nights £1250, £1050 5 days/3 nights, all half board, with excursions, meet and great, tour guides. The air fare alone if £650-680. I looked at DIY and the transfer in the UK was £640 more than the travel company. Did you find it straight forward to make group bookings for airfares etc.?
  6. blazer

    blazer Star commenter

    I always use Trailfinders. They really work hard to get you the best fares/routes.

    Hostel in Chicago used to cost me about $35 per night per student including breakfast. Kids slept in single sex en suite dorms (max size 12).

    An American friend has recommended WOWair for the cheapest flights to the US. They operate through Iceland.

    I always fly from Brum with a change of flight. Using the local airport means the parents drop off and collect the kids at the airport. No transfers!

    Look into hiring a yellow school bus for the airport transfers at the other end. I always did this though a local (US)High school.

    I assume the travel company is providing insurance? How much are they charging? Zurich do a schools travel insurance for North America. Last time I used them it was 50p per person per day so a week cost £4 per person! Cover was plenty big enough (£5,000,000 for medical).
  7. blazer

    blazer Star commenter

    If you want to contact US teachers (some will be from Washington or nearby) then join this forum and ask some questions


    It is a lot like TES but they are far more polite to each other!
  8. blazer

    blazer Star commenter

    Did the trip happen? How did it go?

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