So, recently my husband and I were able to surprise the kids (Olivia and Kason) with their first flight ever! We took them to Washington, D.C. I was so anxious because I wasn’t sure what to expect, but even more so because I knew how excited they would be. We planned the trip in less than a month and got a great deal on plane tickets. This week’s blog post will consist of tips we took on planning and places we visited while in Washington, D.C.
First can I say how last minute I am? I am trying so hard to be better about it. This time it actually worked out for me. I bought our plane tickets online a week before we intended to fly out. (I told you I’m last minute). The price of the flights had just gone up and at that point, it was all or nothing. I had to ensure we had a plane ticket, period. So here’s the thing. Right after I purchased 5 out of the 6 tickets we needed at about $130/each, my aunt called and said that my cousin had purchased her ticket at the airport for $60 roundtrip. I was soooooo mad yall!! lol...So I started doing what I do best, I started to figure out how I was going to get us some cheap tickets too! So about 5-10 mins after I purchased our tickets, I got an email saying I needed to call to confirm my card. I was like, “Oh wait, so the money hasn’t gone through yet?” I called the number and asked to cancel to flight reservation and because it was still within 24 hour purchasing window, I was able to cancel. When I say I was jumping for joy! As soon as I got off, I went to the airport to purchase our tickets. I wasn’t sure how much the tickets were going to be, but I had assumed they would be cheaper. I get to the airport and go in and find that the tickets were about $40/ea cheaper in the airport than online. So we saved almost $250 by purchasing the tickets in the airport. Now I know what you are thinking. Which airline was it??? Well, we flew Spirit. There are some horror stories when it comes to Spirit and honestly I was doubting it myself after hearing so many bad things about it. However, I have also been able to talk to some people who have flown with them and had no issues. So I took my chances. As you may or may not know, you have to pay for EVERYTHING extra with Spirit. You have to pay to choose your seats, pay $30-$35 for carry on/checked bags EACH WAY, and even pay for refreshments on the plane. So what did we do? We did not choose our seats. Instead of paying about 30 each to sit together, I took my chances on letting them pick our seats. As soon as I was able to check us in for our flight, I did. This was 24 hours before our scheduled departure time. We were able to get 5 out of 6 seats straight across and once we boarded, the person sitting with us agreed to switch seats with my husband so he would be able to sit with us. SCORE!! :) Next, did we pay for bags? NO!! Each one of us had a packed bookbag with everything we needed. This worked out great for us. We stayed from Wednesday-Monday and we all had plenty of clothes and shoes in our bags. Now if you can’t pack light, then you would probably want to check your bag. This is cheaper than paying for a carry on. But honestly, I think most people can get by with packing bookbags. My aunt, who CANNOT pack light for anything, used a vacuum seal bag that helped her out tremendously. Before I forget, you can check a carseat/stroller for no charge. We did bring Kason’s carseat and we checked it. That was something I worried about having and I was grateful to check it for free. We also packed snacks for the kids and made sure everyone had an empty water bottle. Once we got through security, we all filled our water bottles and had snacks/water for the flight. Once we boarded the flight, the kids were able to meet and take pictures with the pilots since it was their first flight. They LOVED it! The flight was 1hr 20 mins and the kids did great on the plane. I downloaded movies on the Netflix app on my phone so they could watch movies and not get too antsy without their WIFI lol. This worked great. We flew into BWI and getting through both airports was actually a breeze.
We were able to stay with my aunt thankfully so I can't indulge on places to stay; I’ll get into the activities. On the first day, we went to National Mall and walked to see the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial. This memorial is such a sight to see. It stood extremely tall, crafted like none other. The kids enjoyed it as Olivia knew exactly who he was and Kason had an idea as well. The memorial is definitely a sight to see. We spoke about the reflection pool and Olivia knew that’s where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr did his I Have A Dream speech based off of pictures she had seen. We walked to see the Lincoln Memorial as well. This walk was one for the books. The kids were extremely tired by the time we got to the top of the stairs. But we were able to see the memorial and take pictures in front of it as well. It was so much fun giving them this experience. After that, We were able to tour the Pentagon. We were able to tour wings that reconstructed from the plane that killed many people on 911. It was an insane story to hear and to see the pictures of all those who died was another heavy experience for us all. Olivia was able to read the story of Asia Cottom, one of three 6th graders traveling on a school trip with their teachers to California. I gave her a few minutes to finish up and she came to me and said, "Mommy that almost made me cry. It was so sad." I still remember exactly where I was when the first plane hit one of the Twin Towers on 911. To see the same grief we felt that day on my child's face showed how after so many years, that day still affects many of us. I'm glad she was able to get some insight on such a historical day for the United States.
The next day, we visited the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. There was so much to see in this museum. This museum consists of 8 levels full of artifacts.. There are many exhibits to see. The Slavery and Freedom exhibit is the beginning of the tour in which you are taken down 70 feet on an elevator. In this exhibit you’ll find wreckage from a slave ship with pictures showing the way slaves were brought to different parts of the world. They had pictures and posts around the rooms giving the numbers of millions of slaves bought out in different areas around the world. There were millions and millions and I could just shake my head in agony. From there, you walk into an area showing the Era of Segregation. This is where they have the Southern Railway car from Jim Crowe era and the casket of Emmet Till. Hearing his mother explain what happened to her son all those years ago was heart wrenching. The kids were able to view the casket ad see pictures of the daunting Emmet Till’s face. It was shocking for the kids to see. We spent some time in this part explaining what went on during this time. One thing I tried to make Olivia understand is how grateful we have to be that we did not grow up in that era of time. Our ancestors died wishing they could live lives as we do today. On the next level they have the Oprah Winfrey Theater which include some of her famous worn dresses, studio couch, and tells her story from the day she was born. They also have a sports exhibit where there are life-size statues of Venus and Serena, an Tommie Smith and John Carlos with their raised black-gloved fists. They have a Musical Crossroads exhibit where you’ll find a 1973 candy-apple red Cadillac. Kason still says to this day, he wants to ride in the red car with the top off. LOL...You’re introduced to the different types of music and the kids loved the “jukebox” table where they were able to play snippets of different musical categories. We loved the Black Lives Matter exhibit as well. This is definitely a must see if visiting Washington, D.C.
We also took the kids to the Wharf. They really enjoyed running around and asking questions about the numerous types of fish and other live seafood. Kason was excited to see the shark they had on display and the octopus. We bought fresh crab legs and shrimp and had them steamed to enjoy for dinner. It was delicious!!!
All in all, we had a great trip and experienced a lot of FIRST’s as a family. I almost cried thinking about how excited my kids would be to catch their first flight. I’m already planning the next family getaway. We want to encourage experiences over things. Cheers to many more.