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Components of a Successful Student Trip to Washington D.C. from a Teacher’s Perspective

Over the past 25 years I have worked with many K-12 teachers to organize student trips to Washington D.C. This spring I received a thank you letter from Shawn Tierney, a teacher at Santa Rita High School in Tucson, Arizona, detailing specific aspects of a trip to Washington D.C. that made it a “resounding success.”

I was happy to receive this detailed letter from Mr. Tierney. Parts of his commentary are included in this article. Tierney reflects upon the important aspects of student travel that help teachers and student tour companies to create a safe, rewarding educational experience for all involved.

Travel can be an eye opening educational experience. For many student travelers, it may even be their first time on an airplane or visiting a large urban area. In this particular instance, a class traveled from Arizona to Washington D.C. – which is a significant distance. Some students may only make this trip once in a lifetime.

In order for a student trip to be a memorable and pleasurable learning experience, coordination among a variety of individuals is necessary. A qualified student travel company will hire the most capable professionals. Student trips are influenced by: tour escorts, bus drivers, restaurant owners and managers, hotel managers, security guards, administrators and docents at various destinations, and the educational travel company. Of course teachers, students and chaperons are key to an excellent trip as well. When everyone works together in a synchronized way the trip is bound to be successful.

Starting the Trip on the Right Foot: Ground Transportation to the Phoenix Airport
Trip planning is a key foundation for success. The less a teacher has to worry about the details, the more he or she can focus on the educational objectives of the trip. Shawn Tierney mentioned he was relieved his selected ground transportation company, Mountain View Tours, has “bus drivers that were accessible and ready when we needed ground transportation in Arizona. It was as comforting to see the white bus turning into the school parking lot early Saturday morning, as it was to receive a call from the bus driver in Phoenix who was ready to pick us up at the airline terminal upon our return.”

Tour guides & Teachers Can Make or Break a Student Trip
When a tour guide and a teacher work well together, a school trip is sure to go smoothly. Kelly Everett was the licensed Washington D.C. tour guide assigned to work with Santa Rita High School students and tour leaders. Tierney says, “She was informative, proactive, and flexible. She made suggestions due to weather and traffic so that students had a thorough visit to Washington D.C.” When visiting any destination, adaptability and problem solving can make all of the difference. Tierney commented that, “the high point of the trip was when we were able to meet with our Congressional District Representative on the steps of the Capitol within 24 hours of the Health Care Reform Bill being passed. This required an overhaul of the schedule, which Kelly handled with composure and enthusiasm.” The experience of actually seeing the Congressional District representative following the passing of this historical bill was certainly a rare and rewarding experience for the school group. Tierney recalled, “the looks on the faces of our graduating seniors who saw, many for the first time, the interior of the Capitol, made it all worthwhile.”


Experienced Bus Drivers in Washington D.C. Save Time by Averting Hassles and Hang-ups

Bus drivers with a thorough knowledge of the streets of Washington D.C. as well as appropriate places to load and unload large groups when entering museums, government buildings, and other destinations, can save time on student trips. Shawn Tierney is a Washington D.C. native, so he knows full well the pitfalls and delays that might await any large school group or individual when winding through the streets of the city. According to Tierney, the bus driver, Bob Pearl, had, “knowledge of the maze of streets in D.C. This was critical in making many of our scheduled appointments. He did an excellent job of managing the one way streets and constant construction and security restrictions.” The bus driver was also “always mindful for the safety of the students.” The fact that the bus driver and the tour guide worked well together created a smooth trip.

Santa Rita High School students went on a four day, three night trip to Washington D.C. that included: Arlington National Cemetery, Ford’s Theatre, Smithsonian American and Natural History Museum, a visit to the Supreme Court as well as the U.S. Capitol, the U.S. Navy Memorial, Washington National Cathedral, the Holocaust Museum, Smithsonian Air & Space Museum, and Mount Vernon.

Even though Santa Rita High School’s itinerary was full — there are even more worthwhile educational destinations to see in Washington D.C. For the March 2011 trip, Tierney plans to add another night so more destinations may be included. He also indicated he’d start planning in August 2010. Planning a student trip to Washington D.C. six months to one year in advance is always wise, especially if teachers want student groups to gain admission to the Capitol, White House, or Pentagon when visiting.

To review an itinerary or speak to an educational travel professional about the costs or details of taking a student trip to Washington D.C. email info@educationaltravelconsultants.com or Request a Quote by taking a moment to fill out a brief, online questionnaire.

Educational Travel Consultants Offers a Special Price of $299 per Student (with transportation) for Travel to Washington D.C.

Educational Travel Consultants is in touch with the times. Most Americans are facing economic challenges and the company wants to assist our valued partners and new school groups to continue to travel for educational purposes. We believe student trips can still travel well and learn a great deal, while keeping a close eye on budget and making the right decisions when planning the trip to Washington D.C.

As part of our early bird specials this summer, Educational Travel Consultants is offering a price as low as $299 per student for group travel to Washington D.C.

This Washington D.C. student trip includes the following:

– A Tour Escort/Licensed Washington D.C. Tour Guide
– Deluxe Motor coach from a School Group’s Hometown
– Two Totally Free Teachers or Chaperones for every 20 students on tour (double occupancy)
– Hotels
– Admission and Entrance Fees
– Two Breakfasts and Two Dinners
– Coverage Under Educational Travel Consultants Liability Insurance Policy
– Taxes and Tips

Many student travel companies quote low prices and add hidden costs. This is not how Educational Travel Consultants does business. We are clear about our pricing, and what is included in the student trip from the outset. If student travel group coordinators, chaperones, teachers or administrators wish to add extra items to the itinerary, then they deserve a clear and concise answer about additional costs up front. The professional staff at Educational Travel Consultants delivers this information to clients upon request for additional itinerary items.

Educational Travel consultants has been escorting student trips to Washington D.C. for nearly 25 years. Thanks to our experience in this market, we know which educational experiences student trips tend to want when they visit the city, and which destinations they derive the most learning from.

An Educational Travel Consultants’ trip to Washington D.C. includes attractions such as the US Supreme Court, US Capitol, Smithsonian Museums, Arlington Cemetery, an illuminated tour of Washington D.C’s Memorials and Monuments plus other attractions as time permits.

For groups that are interested in more specific tours such as an Art Tour, Black History Tour, or Performance Tour of Washington D.C., an Educational Travel Consultant professional will assist in creating the perfect itinerary. These focused trips provide a wonderful learning experience to students who are studying art or African American history, or student in the high school band, orchestra, theater, or ensembles that wish to have a public performance or adjudicated music festival wound into their trip. Some of these specialty tours that Educational Travel Consultants custom designed are also priced staring at $299 per student.

For anyone planning a student trip to Washington D.C., please heed this advice: plan early! With post 911 security regulations in place at highly visited areas such as the White House and Capitol, it is imperative that reservations are made a minimum of six months to one year in advance. Read up on special requirements for booking a large group at these sites, on the Educational Travel Consultants blog.

For more information about booking a student trip to Washington D.C. email info@educationaltravelconsultants.com or Request a Quote.

Eddie Boggs, Washington D.C. Tour Guide, Educator, Leader on Student Trips

When Eddie Boggs was a guidance counselor for Timberstone Junior High School in Sylvania, Ohio, he organized combined student trips to Washington D.C. with McCord Junior High School. Fifteen years ago, he started bringing this large group of 200 students to Washington D.C. with Educational Travel Consultants.

A Lifelong Educator Becomes a Tour Guide with ETC
Today, Eddie Boggs is a licensed Washington D.C. tour guide and he works for Educational Travel Consultants. For Boggs, a former English and Social Studies teacher, the educational student trip is the perfect tool to help engage students in the study of the history of the United States and our government. “I know that most of the students who take the trip to Washington D.C. are going because their friends are attending,” says Boggs, “but if I can educate them in the process, it’s icing on the cake.”

Boggs has been a career educator, with a strong commitment to his community and his schools. He says, “Parents are sending their kids on these trips now because they went with me to Washington D.C. in 8th grade. The parents are the best ambassadors for the student trip.” Though Boggs jokes, “”I’ll probably quit when I get the fourth generation of students,” he admits he loves his job so much because he is a performer and he loves to make people happy.

Boggs says he loves to entertain. He plays guitar and sings folk music, and is still an active performer in the genre. He reflected, “I have traveled all over the country singing and had the opportunity to meet people. I’m a solo-performing artist and I play with the New Christian Minstrels — a folk group from the 1960s.”

Touring in the Spring with Student Travel Groups
Boggs is retired from his position as Guidance Counselor at Timberstone Junior High School, but he still has a full schedule of spring touring with Educational Travel Consultants. Boggs also teaches college in the fall at the University of Toledo. He teaches counseling methods to teachers there. For him, teaching, performing, and being a tour guide all tap the same skill sets.

Reflecting upon the past 15 years of bringing student groups on tour of Washington D.C. with Educational Travel Consultants, Boggs is certain that he has chosen the right company to work alongside. And, now he is proud to represent the same company on educational tours.

Ohio Students Attend a Washington D.C. Student Trip Every June
Boggs still brings the school trip to Washington D.C. each June. “It’s a nice big group of students. We used to go in the spring but we didn’t know how to dress because the temperatures are so variable. In the summer it’s so much easier to just pack some shorts, shirts, and sandals. Since we have almost 200 people going it’s a challenge to manage all of that luggage. We try to keep luggage as light as possible to prevent extra fees.”

The Economics of Partnering With Educational Travel Consultants on Student Trips

Economy and service are two of the main reasons Boggs has worked so well with Educational Travel Consultants over the years. Boggs says, “The Clemens family is honest and they have integrity. Their staff has the same kind disposition as them. I have worked with, and for, an honest sincere company that tries to keep the cost of student trips down as low as possible.”

Other Student Travel Companies are More Expensive

Over the years, Boggs has listened to parents’ stories about the cost of other student trips with other schools and student travel organizations. “There are other families around here going on student trips with other companies and they are paying twice as much,” he acknowledges.” I know parents are getting ripped off and I hate that. I try to keep the cost low so as many students can go as possible.”

Despite hard economic times and uncertain fuel costs, Educational Travel Consultants has maintained the same economical per student cost and always allowed a proportionate number of chaperones to travel for free. This incredible deal has been maintained during the worst of times — and it means a great deal to parents, students, and teachers on a tight budget.

For more information on scheduling a tour, or to request Eddie Boggs as a tour guide for a student trip to Washington D.C. contact an Educational Travel Consultant, or fill out the short questionnaire to request a quote.

Student Travel to Washington DC: Don’t Miss the new Mount Vernon Educational Center

by Howard Clemens

Learn About George Washington’s Life on an Educational Student Tour of Mount Vernon Estate & Gardens

One of the most popular historic locations in the United States, Mount Vernon Estate and Gardens, is located sixteen miles south of Washington, DC on the banks of the Potomac River. Each year Mount Vernon provides events, tours and exhibits for American history lovers. Educational student tour groups, student travel organizations, families and individuals can enjoy the Mansion House, slave quarters, the kitchen, stables, the greenhouse, hiking trails, the Farm, the Slave Memorial and Washington’s Tomb. In addition to tours and exhibits, Mount Vernon offers Adventures in Learning programs created specifically for high school trips, educational travel tours and history field trips. Also recently opened are The Donald W. Reynolds Museum and Education Center and the Ford Orientation Center, which chronicle the life and times of George Washington through multi media presentations, historical artifacts and storytelling.

The History of Mount Vernon: A Student Travel Destination for Over 140 Years

Mount Vernon Estate and Gardens were the home of George and Martha Washington after they were married in 1759. They lived there until George Washington’s death in 1799. During his forty years there Washington grew the estate to 8,000 acres and expanded the Mansion House to twenty-one rooms. In 1858 the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association bought the estate from the Washington family and Mount Vernon was opened to the public in 1860. Since 1860 approximately 80 million people have toured the estate grounds and attended educational travel programs and events.

The Donald W. Reynolds Museum and Education Center: An Unforgettable Student Travel Tour Destination in Washington DC

Mount Vernon Estate and Gardens is dedicated to helping schools, student tour groups, educational travel services, families and individuals discover the real George Washington. In order to achieve this goal Mount Vernon has recently opened The Donald W. Reynolds Museum and Education Center. This educational hub features twenty-three galleries and theaters equipped with interactive technology built to teach the details of George Washington’s childhood, young adult life and experiences as a leader in American History. The Education Center is also home to Washington’s Presidential Library, classroom space and computers, which store over 20,000 letters written by George Washington himself.

A major highlight of the Donald W. Reynolds Museum are the three life size models of George Washington made by a forensic anthropologist and a team of special experts. The museum provides state of the art display for its incredible collection of furnishings, china, silver, clothing, jewelry, rare books, manuscripts, Revolutionary War artifacts and other personal effects of the Washington family. In order to maintain the pastoral setting and picturesque views on the estate sixty-five percent of the 66,700-square foot Ford Orientation Center and Donald W. Reynolds Museum and Education Center complex are constructed under the four-acre pasture just inside the main gate. The architectural design preserves the historic look of Mount Vernon and creates a grazing pasture for traditional Hogg Island sheep, similar to those Washington raised 200 years ago.

Discover Educational History Tours That Are Fun for Students and Teachers Alike at The Ford Orientation Center

A statue of the Washington family greets groups and people visiting the Ford Orientation Center. Filled with exhibitions and featuring a film about the life, struggles and achievements of George Washington the Ford Orientation Center provides visitors the chance to learn about this dynamic, captivating hero of American history. Made possible through the longstanding support of Ford Motor Company, the Ford Orientation Center is meant to be a doorway into the nation’s past. “Ford Motor Company’s support of Mount Vernon started with Henry Ford,” states Mount Vernon’s executive director James C. Rees, “It continues with the Ford Orientation Center, a vital resource which will be the gateway for generations of young Americans to learn about George Washington.”

Educational Student Travel: Adventures in Learning Created for Your Curriculum

Mount Vernon Estate and Gardens offers a wide range of student travel tours, educational field trips and learning experiences. Each program is designed to meet school curriculum standards and specifically focus on George Washington and 18th century living. Programs are seasonal and can be scheduled at educational student rates. The Donald W. Reynolds Museum and Education Center and the Ford Orientation Center have been designed in partnership with the History Channel, which produced eleven educational videos for the project. Plan to spend the entire day at Mount Vernon Estate and Gardens. To find out more visit the Mount Vernon web site www.MountVernon.org.

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The Kennedy Center in Washington D.C: A Student Travel Favorite

When it comes to seeing some of the finest in musical and performance talent, The Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. is a favorite choice for student travel trips.

Many performance tours, such as student orchestras, jazz ensembles, marching bands, and ensembles, visit The Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. These groups are looking for a specific travel experience in Washington D.C. that reflects their unique learning focus. The Kennedy Center can also be an excellent choice for an itinerary for any type of student traveler (even those not on performance tour). The Kennedy Center offers an excellent evening of entertainment to complement any student travel trip. It can also offer the musical or performance insight that performance students seek.

Kennedy Center Performances for Student Travel Groups
The Kennedy Center has a very special list of educational performances just for school groups. These performances educate student travel groups about the performing arts as a career choice, expand on their knowledge of the arts, and challenge their critical thinking skills. An example of an educational performance is the WNO Student Dress Rehearsal for classics such as Rigoletto and Elektra. These dress rehearsals teach students about the necessary preparations for formal performance. This unique glimpse into the behind the scenes work of artists performing at the Kennedy Center allows students to view this career choice realistically.

On occasion, some of the better known musicians and performers (such as Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater) will give mini performances for student travel groups during their stay at The Kennedy Center. All of these types of performances enrich the student traveler’s experience and provide a wonderful foundation for their own performances.

Fall Highlights for the National Symphony Orchestra
The National Symphony Orchestra (NSO) is housed at The Kennedy Center, and is a unique cultural experience for any student travel group. The NSO performs on a regular schedule and is composed of some of the finest musicians in the nation. Consider some of the creative musical fusion on the fall 2008 schedule. In the fall of 2008 NSO Pops plays with Arlo Guthrie on September 18th and Linda Eder sings Judy Garland songs with Marvin Hamlisch conducting on September 25. These exciting musical guests bring both innovation and exceptional musical talent to the program.

Planning The Kennedy Center Visit
Advance planning is key to a successful student travel trip and to booking the performance that works best for a specific group. Many student travel groups and/or their planners want to see the National Symphony Orchestra perform. Or perhaps, they want to see the popular show Sheer Madness, a comedy mystery who-dunnit that the audience participates in solving. In any case, advance ticket purchase is necessary for student groups.

One of Educational Travel Consultant’s professional staff will be happy to assist with this task while creating a student travel trip to Washington D.C. Just email info@educationaltravelconsultants.com or fill out our request a quote form for more information on specific destinations and itineraries.

Student Tours of Washington D.C. Require Knowledge of Security Procedures

By Howard Clemens

Following is a question and answer session with Ann Greenwald, Tour Director, and Licensed Washington D.C. Guide.

As a student tour travel consultant for many years, it has become necessary to prepare groups for security procedures and protocols of certain U.S. government buildings in this post 9-11 era. In a brief interview with an affiliated Tour Director in Washington D.C., I have detailed the many requirements for security that are necessary to visit some of the more common sites within Washington D.C.

White House tour:
Q. What items can you bring with you on the White House tour?
A. You must bring a valid photo I.D. Students may bring a wallet if it fits in a pocket. Women cannot bring purses. Nothing else is permitted: no cameras, no breath mints, no chapstick, no bottled water, no gum – nothing. These items will be taken at the gate and students probably won’t get them back. They go into a trash bin.

Q. How does a student tour group get permission to attend a White House tour?
A. A list of student and adult travelers, along with their Social Security numbers, are submitted to a congressman or senator well in advance of the trip. All names are subject to a background check. Without permission to do a background check, an individual cannot get into the White House. Groups must line up in alphabetical order. For any additional security information concerning a student travel tour of the White House, please consult this site : http://www.whitehouse.gov/history/tours/

United States Capitol Tour:
Q. What personal items are prohibited inside the U.S. Capitol?
A. No oversized backpacks are allowed, though purse backpacks are permissible. All permissible bags are subject to a security search. Depending upon where you start the tour there may be up to three security checkpoints, and three checks on your purse. Other prohibited items include: water, nothing that can be construed as a weapon such as a metal file, no hairspray, no hand sanitizer. No liquids of any kind are permitted. No food is permitted.

Q. What personal items are allowed inside the U.S. Capitol?
A. Cameras are permitted but not inside the galleries (House and Senate chambers). Also permitted on the general tour but not in the galleries is any video recording devices, electronic devices and baby strollers.

Q. When is the Capitol tour open to the public?
A. The Capitol is open to the public for guided tours Monday through Saturday with the exception of Thanksgiving and Christmas days. Ticket holders will be directed to the South Visitor Receiving Facility and proceed to the Capitol to begin their tour. Maximum tour size is 40 people. A student tour company can make arrangements through the U.S. Senator or Congressman to schedule a special tour for educational travel groups and avoid the public line (and wait). If student tour groups need additional information concerning visiting the U.S. Capitol please consult their official website: http://www.aoc.gov/cc/visit/

The Smithsonian:
Q. What security procedures should students and chaperones expect when visiting the Smithsonian as part of a tour?
A. At most museums, security personnel will conduct a thorough but speedy hand check of all bags, briefcases, purses, and containers. All visitors are subject to bag checks with special electronic devices. There are walk through security bag checkpoints at all Smithsonian Museums and students will go through a metal detector. For those unable to walk through the metal detector such as those in wheelchairs, security personnel will screen these visitors individually. No food or drink is allowed in any of the Smithsonian Museums.

Q. What items are allowed in the Smithsonian?
A. Backpacks and purses are allowed in the Smithsonian, and they are subject to search. For any additional security questions concerning a student tour of the Smithsonian, please consult the following site : http://www.smithsonian.org/visit/security_and_policies.htm.

General Tips to Student travelers coming to Washington D.C.
Q. Are there any suggestions you would make to students traveling to Washington D.C. for tours of the various sites?
A. The lighter students travel, the quicker they get through security. Leave ipods or other metal devices in rooms or on the bus. The lighter students go the more comfortable they will be. My advice is if it doesn’t fit in your pocket or wallet or purse, leave it. This will mean the student will not have to get into a bag check line. As a rule, don’t bring food or drink anywhere. In most cases the student can bring water with them (but, not the Capital or White House).

In a typical day of touring with a group, Ann says her groups will visit five to eight sites and go through security an average of three to ten times per day depending upon the site visited.

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Evening Entertainment for Student Travel Groups on Tour in Washington D.C.

It’s easy to find fun and educational things to do with student groups in the evenings in Washington D.C. Student travel is enhanced by a careful selection of entertainment venues. My company, Educational Travel Consultants, extends the entertainment choices beyond the perimeters of Washington D.C. There are some great entertainment opportunities for student tour groups inside Washington D.C. and just an hour outside of Washington D.C.

Twilight Tattoo on the White House Ellipse
Student travelers are thrilled to spend an evening outdoors during the spring to enjoy the pageantry of a Twilight Tattoo on the White House Ellipse. Twilight Tatoos highlight the strong and enduring history of the U.S. Military with performance, pageantry, and display of arms. The Twilight Tattoo is a way to learn about the longstanding traditions of morale, leadership, and a community of caring. At the Tattoo, student travel groups can celebrate military tradition. It features The Old Guard, Soldiers of the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment, and the ceremonial unit, a Fife and Drum Corps as well as a performance by the U.S. Army Drill Team; The U.S. Army Band Blues jazz ensemble, vocalists from The United States Army Chorus and The U.S. Army Chorale.

U.S. Naval Band Performance
Formed in 1925, the U.S. Naval Band makes its home in the “Sail Loft” of the historic Washington Navy Yard, the oldest naval establishment in the United States. Music has provided relaxation and camaraderie for enlisted men and officers in the U.S. Navy since post-revolutionary times and continues to inspire patriotism and respect for military tradition in student travel groups today. The U.S Naval Band are professional musicians and they are in Washington D.C. to perform around the holidays and special events of military significance. Plan a student travel tour in sync with a U.S. Naval Band performance in Washington D.C.

U.S. Marine Corps Silent Drill Team
Housed in the historic marine barracks in Washington D.C., the U.S. Marine Corps Silent Drill team is hand picked from the marines for their ability to carry out gun drills without commands. This amazing demonstration is performed throughout the summer months at the intersection of 8th and I. Student travel groups particularly enjoy this display of unspoken communication, discipline and coordination. Once again, this evening activity allows student tour groups to spend some time outdoors during pleasant weather. For a deeper understanding of the tradition of the U.S. Marines and the Silent Drill team, students may prepare for their tour by visiting http://www.marines.com/page/usmc.jsp?pageId=/page/Detail-XML-Conversion.jsp?pageName=Silent-Drill&flashRedirect=true.

Shear Madness at the Kennedy Center
This student travel tour favorite is a play that has been running continuously since 1987. The audience participation ‘whodunit’ style production makes detectives out of everyone. This is a great active learning experience for the student traveler in Washington D.C. Held in the Theater Lab of Kennedy Center, the audience is surrounding the stage and can easily interact with actors in this theater in the round. Student tour groups look forward to the Shear Madness performance in Washington D.C. because it is contemporary, funny, engaging, and alive with possibilities. Shear Madness is also performed in Boston. When student tour groups attend a Shear Madness performance, they must solve the crime in collusion with the rest of the audience and the ending is always a surprise for all.

Broadway Style Musical Dinner Theater Shows
For the student travel tour that may not make it to Toronto or New York City – never fear, a taste of off Broadway is still here. Off Broadway professional dinner theaters such as Toby’s and Lazy Susan are located in or near the Washington D.C. metro area. Off Broadway dinner theater is the perfect venue for a student travel tour in search of some entertainment. Students may see some well known Broadway musicals such as “A Chorus Line,” “The Sound of Music”, “Lend Me a Tenor,” and many more famous musicals too numerous to list here.

Medieval Times Dinner Theater
Student tour groups love to visit Maryland’s Medieval Times Castle, just outside of Washington D.C. in Hanover, Maryland. Even though Maryland was still a wilderness during medieval times – it doesn’t matter. The Maryland Castle is inside the Arundel Mills Mall, and can seat 1,000 people. Student tour groups interested in the full medieval experience – including live jousting tournaments on horses plus a great dinner feast — will be excited by a visit to the castle and the surrounding mall. Student travel groups are thrilled to participate in this active learning experience where Medieval times come alive, in great splendor.

Exciting evening activities abound for the student travel group visiting the Washington D.C. area. Many evening activities are found in the greater metro area surrounding Washington D.C., and some are in downtown Washington D.C. Whatever your choice of student travel entertainment while in the D.C. area, make sure it complements the main trip theme, and contains an educational component that ties in with the curriculum.

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