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Some Practical Tips While On Vacation In Washington DC

Mar 12, 2008
Europeans no longer need a visa when visiting Washington DC on vacation, a full European passport is all that is now needed.

Airlines will issue you with a Visa waver form on the aircraft before landing and also a Customs Declaration card. They must be handed into Customs when going through passport control.

Ronald Reagan International Airport is the main International airport and is 4.5 miles from down town DC. There is also a large airport at Dulles International and it is 26 miles west of down town DC. Baltimore International is 28 miles north of DC.

When clearing customs you should hand in your customs declaration form, listing all the things that you have brought into the US. You must note that you cannot bring in fresh meat, fruit, drugs and plants.

Disabled travellers will find ramps, wide doors, lifts and other wheelchair provisions in major public places. You should contact your car hire firm for written proof of their policies towards disabled drivers. On arrival in the state, the car hire company should direct you to the local county office in order to claim disabled driver status. Please remember that in some cases you may have to wait up to two hours to get your disabled visitor badge.

European drivers can drive in Washington DC on a full driving licence issued in their own country. However under 25's may find it difficult to hire a car or may have to pay much higher rates of hire and insurance. Many airlines now offer Fly Drive holidays which offer competitive car hire rates.

When hiring a car in Washington DC you must ensure that you have the correct insurance. It is advisable to take out Collision Damage Waver. You may find it to be expensive, but it is essential to take out as it covers you for all conceivable events.

Most hire cars in Washington DC are automatics and come with air conditioning. You now generally find that the main car hire companies are now bases at the airports which makes collecting and dropping off the car much easier.

In Washington DC they drive on the right hand side of the road and it is preferable for first time visitors to arrive in day light in order to familiarise themselves with the road networks.

The interstate roads are the best for long journeys and have anywhere up to six lanes. Please remember that Americans overtake on both sides which can be a shock for foreign tourists on their first visit. Also remember when using a toll road in Washington DC to have money to pay at each toll booth.

The speed limit in Washington DC is 65mph and in outer city limits it is usually 55mph. In built up areas it drops to 30 - 35mph. If you are stopped by the police, wait in the car and be polite. Washington police do not appreciate rude drivers.

Drinking and driving is not tolerated in Washington DC and it is regarded as a serious offence. If stopped on suspicion of drink driving, you can be locked up on the spot until you have taken a urine test. You should not drink drive under any circumstances.

If you are unfortunate enough to break down while driving in Washington DC you should wait in your car with the bonnet raised and wait until the Highway Patrol stop to help you.

In Washington DC the standard electrical supply is 110-120 volts and if bringing your own electrical devices from Europe, you must use an adaptor.

Travellers from Europe do not need any inoculations before visiting Washington DC. Water is safe to drink but in some cases may be heavily chlorinated. In Washington DC there are excellent pharmacies.

There is no state funded health service in Washington DC and so you must have travel insurance as medical care is very expensive in Washington DC.

When coming on vacation to Washington DC many tourists now rent holiday homes or Villas. This usually works out cheaper than staying in hotels and provides much more independence. It also allows the tourist to get a true feel of the Washington DC way of life and culture. Holiday home rental is now one of the fasted growing areas of tourism in Washington DC.
About the Author
Andrew Gibson is MD of Direct Holiday Bookings. It is one of the fastest growing on line travel websites. To see an example of why Direct Holiday Bookings is growing so rapidly have a look at Holiday Rental Homes
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