As someone who is in their late 20’s with no kids, I rarely experience travel with anyone under the age of 18. However, I was given the opportunity to go on my school’s 8th grade trip to Washington D.C. this past week. It opened up my eyes to an entirely different form of travel.
To begin with, I never go on tours, and this is exactly what our trip was. We drove down at 6:30am on Wednesday morning and took the bus to different locations around the District of Colombia. Also, vastly different from my usual travels, no sleep! We got up every morning at 6am and went to bed at 12am earliest. Did I mention there was no time for napping? This is usually my favorite part of traveling. Another huge difference, taking care of someone other than myself. Basically, the other teachers and I were moms to these children for three days straight, so anything they needed, needed to be taken care of. This included any medications, or my favorite, all of their complaints. Finally, there was no going out and exploring Capitol nightlife. The extent of my going out was chaperoning their Spirit Cruise around the Potomac, which was wonderful but extremely different from normal for me.
Though it was different, it was still an enlightening experience for me considering my last trip to D.C. was in the 5th grade with my family. And while I doubt anyone here will be traveling with about one hundred thirteen and fourteen-year-olds on their next vacation, I thought it would be a good chance for me to give you a few must-sees for your next trip to the Nation’s Capitol.
1. The Capitol Building:
Here you can take a tour of where our country’s decisions are made. Housing the Senate and House of Representatives, it’s a must-see for anyone visiting the Capitol. Plus, they have an excellent video in the beginning that runs through the history of the building. I love nothing more than a quick synopsis of history to brush up my facts – though, the students did complain that it was boring. I’m not ashamed to admit, I loved it!
2. Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial, Korean Veteran Memorial, and Lincoln Memorial:
Luckily, these three memorials are located right next to one another. It’s a great sunset trip to visit all three, and there are great views of the Washington Monument. Bring a pencil and paper to imprint a name of a solider lost in Vietnam, stroll by the statues and ponds of the Korean Memorial, and then climb to the top of the Lincoln, sit on the steps, and enjoy the view. It’s a perfect way to honor the country and end a day.
3. The National Holocaust Museum:
The Holocaust is an event that should never be forgotten in history. This museum is incredible and horrific at the same time. Since every year our students read a Holocaust book, it is the perfect activity to bring the lesson full circle. *Side Note* Since I’ve been to Dachau and Anne Frank’s House, this museum had less of an effect on me, but if you can’t spend the money to bring your kids to Germany or Amsterdam to give them a full understanding, than this museum will do the trick.
This was one of my favorite spots during our trip. Not only is the Memorial beautifully set on the Tidal Basin, it is full of quotes by FDR. As a language arts teacher, this was right up my alley, so I spent my entire time photographing each one. The Memorial is full of rocks, water fixtures, statues, and places to sit. It is a nice,cool place to relax after a day of site-seeing.
5. Arlington National Cemetery:
This was our final stop on the trip. Arlington is a beautiful cemetery, housing many important people from the USA. You can stop and see the Tomb of the Unknown Solider, along with the changing of the guards that happens every hour here. Along with this, you can also see the Memorial for JFK and the Eternal Flame.
Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial: On our way to the FDR Memorial, we happened to stumble upon the construction of the MLK Jr. Memorial. It is filled with quotes and located right on the Tidal Basin. I can’t wait for next year’s trip to visit it.
While you may not be visiting D.C. with one hundred kids, or any kids at all for that matter, these are my recommended sites to see.