Memorial Day draws a lot of people to Washington, DC where they spend the holiday remembering those have died while serving in the armed forces. According to Destination DC, "the nation’s capital celebrates with unique and meaningful events and exhibits designed to recognize the selfless service of our active duty military and veterans."
If you are going to Washington, DC for Memorial Day weekend, here are some of the "must see" sights while you are there:
Arlington National Cemetery
The Arlington National Cemetery is the country’s largest military cemetery, with thousands of veterans and members of their immediate family resting there. On Memorial Day, servicemen and women place American flags at more than 250,000 graves, with the Memorial Day Roses Foundation providing free roses to visitors who come in tribute.
Arlington National Cemetery is the home of several well-known historic sites, including the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, which is a tribute to unidentified fallen soldiers who fought in World War I, World War II, Korea and Vietnam. The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is a large white sarcophagus that is guarded 24 hours a day, 365 days a year by Tomb Guard sentinels from the elite 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment. On Memorial Day and Veterans Day, thousands of visitors attend remembrance services in the Memorial Amphitheater.
Iwo Jima Memorial
Located outside of the Arlington National Cemetery, the Iwo Jima Memorial (aka the Marine Corps War Memorial) is one of the most moving monuments in the area. This breathtaking sculpture depicts the six American soldiers who raised the second American flag at Iwo Jima on Feb. 23, 1945, signifying a U.S. victory in the Pacific during World War II. The grounds of the Marine Corps War Memorial are open from 6 a.m. until midnight, year-round.
The Country's Largest Memorial Day Parade
The National Memorial Day Parade ushers marching bands, youth groups, floats, performers and, of course, veterans, down Constitution Avenue. This televised parade is the largest of its kind in the U.S. and honors those who have served or presently serve in the U.S. military. Arrive early for the best viewing options.
Theparade is a moving timeline of American military history, honoring those who have served and sacrificed from the American Revolution to the present day. It draws on the tradition of Memorial Day parades, going back to the beginning of the holiday just after the Civil War, to create a family friendly event aimed at calling attention to the true meaning of Memorial Day – honoring our fallen heroes.
The Memorials Along the National Mall
The National Mall is America’s most-visited national park, where the past, present and future come together. The monuments and memorials in this park honor American forefathers and heroes who paid the ultimate sacrifice in service to this country.
The National Mall features plenty of ways to honor American servicemen and women. Visit the magnificent National World War II Memorial and its famous effervescent fountain. Stop to pay your respects at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and the Vietnam Women’s Memorial. Admire the steely faces of the 19 servicemen depicted in the Field of Service at the Korean War Veterans Memorial. Visit the DC War Memorial, a circular, marble monument featuring the names of DC residents who lost their lives fighting in WWI.
Travel consultants are asked a lot of questions. One of the most asked is: what is your top travel tip? We have so many travel tips to share with our clients, picking just one as our top tip is difficult. Not all tips fit all clients, but we have come up with our #1 travel tip that we think applies across the board.
Our #1 tip is fairly simple: BE FLEXIBLE. We know, you're going to ask "be flexible about what?" The short answer is "everything." But here is the longer answer.
Be flexible in your timing.
Most often you can save money, and find more availability, if you can be flexible with your travel dates. The obvious example is to avoid peak seasons. Peak season can vary, but one impact is when most kids are out of school (so more families are traveling, which increases prices and decreases availability). Another impact is special events. Traveling to New Orleans or Rio de Janeiro during Mardi Gras / Carnival is definitely peak season in those areas. New Year's Eve in New York City? Peak season. You get the picture. If you can be flexible with your travel dates, you will often save money.
Be flexible with picking destinations.
It's understandable if you have a specific destination in mind, and don't want to change it in order to save a few bucks. But you will have times where you can be flexible about the destination. Here's an example. You want to go to the Caribbean. Other than beaches, free flowing alcohol and food, and a nice pool, you really don't care too much where you go. Certain destinations will have better airfare schedules (nonstop versus two plane changes), and better prices. But if you have your heart set on St Lucia, it won't matter if Cancun is less expensive. When you're flexible about where you go, let your travel consultant know so they put together the best options possible for you.
Be flexible when traveling.
Travel is an adventure; sometimes you get more adventure than you bargained for. Some people may say "go with the flow", but it means the same thing. I have personally hunkered down in a resort as a hurricane hit. I've missed flight connections. I've had long flight delays, and I've slept in airports. Stuff happens. And when it's out of your control, it can be very frustrating. Being flexible, and refraining from stressing out, goes along way. If you can't fly to your destination, is it within driving distance? I recently had a client fly from Nashville to Miami to get on their cruise, because their flights kept getting cancelled.
Just be flexible.
Finally, just be flexible in general. Whether you travel domestically or internationally, you'll be meeting new people, experiencing new cultures, and facing new experiences. In this regard, being flexible translates to being openminded, or when dealing with toddlers at Disney World it might be called "being a saint."
Looking for more tips?
Skim through our Travel Musings to find more tips, stories, as well as destination tidbits.
Because the Miami and Ft Lauderdale airports are 29 miles apart it is common for people to fly into one city, even though their hotel is closer to the other airport. Why? There tend to be two reasons: to save money and/or earn loyalty miles/points with their airline of choice.
For example, Southwest Airlines only flies into Ft Lauderdale. Folks looking to build their Rapid Rewards points with Southwest want to fly into Ft Lauderdale, even if their end destination is Miami.
But is it worth it? I have done this on purpose in the past just for the first hand experience. Recently I had a conference in Miami, approximately 10 miles from the Miami airport. I got a killer price on Southwest Airlines so I decided to fly into Ft Lauderdale.
Once I landed, my options for getting to the Miami hotel included a shuttle service (like GoShuttle or Super Shuttle), a private car service (can we say $$$?), Lyft or Uber, or the Tri-Rail service. Because I landed late at night, I decided to skip the Tri-Rail and took Lyft from the Ft Lauderdale airport to my Miami hotel. It was convenient door to door service with no other stops (like you can be subjected to with a shared shuttle service), but it was not cheap ($55 before adding a tip), and took about 30 minutes.
After the conference, I decided to use the Tri-Rail service. it is not for the faint of heart, and not necessarily the most efficient or convenient way to transfer between the two airports, but it's more reasonably priced. I arranged for Super Shuttle to take me from the hotel to the Miami airport where I had to make my way to the train station at the airport. I then took the Tri-Ral train to Ft Lauderdale. Once I got there I had to take a complimentary bus to get from the station to the airport terminal. It was fairly inexpensive with $24 for the Miami shuttle and $3.75 for the Tri-Rail. From the time I left the Miami hotel to the time I stepped inside the Ft Lauderdale airport terminal it took 2 1/2 hours.
When you're planning to your next trip to the greater Miami - Ft Lauderdale area, you should ask yourself some questions:
Crunch your numbers and see if that "lower airfare" is really saving you money once you factor in the costs of a shuttle or other transportation to your hotel. Also consider what your time is worth to you. Are you okay spending 2 1/2 hours of your time between the airport and your hotel? Or would you rather spend only 30-45 minutes (assuming no unexpected traffic delays of course)?
Just because the two airports are relatively close doesn't mean they are interchangeable. Time and convenience need to be balanced with cost in order to pick which airport best fits YOUR needs.
Also, this isn't unique to the Ft Lauderdale and Miami airports. There are many areas with multiple airports, and they aren't always logistically interchangeable. Just a few examples are Chicago (O'hare and Midway), New York (LaGuardia, JFK and Newark), London (Heathrow and Gatwick), and the San Francisco Bay Area (San Francisco, San Jose, and Oakland).
At Ships 'N' Trips Travel we have been providing memorable travel experiences for our clients since 2005.