Sunday, September 24, 2023

Tour Guide


When the family comes to visit.

I live outside Washington DC.  Sunshine and I have family all over the United States of America.  Each with their own core family members.  (You know, kids, in laws, cousins). Most people in the US will not get the chance to see the White House, or the Capital in their lifetime.  However, we always have an open invitation for our family to come and visit.  I wanted to share a few tips I like to use to make the trip (and the visit) as enjoyable as possible.

Talk before they arrive

The Washington DC area has many sites to visit.  I find it always a good idea to understand a couple of things before the family arrives.  For instance, you have to have an appointment for certain activities in the area. (a tour of the White House for example).  Other attractions may require an appointment or may be under construction.   Here are some of the questions I ask:
  • How much time do we have for touring?
  • Is there one thing you must see before you go home?
  • Do you have any appointments you must make?
  • How long will you be with us?
All of these questions will assist you in making the trip as fun as possible.  

Set expectations

I think is is also important to let your guest know what to expect.  In my case, I tell them there is a lot of walking.  Parking is limited in the city, and therefore, we normally park in one area and walk around.  We can also take advantage of the local metro service.  It all depends on what the family wants to see.  (and if there are any mobility challenges)

Tell them about the weather that time of year.  Along with the weather, I will look into the different attractions and see if any are closed during the visit.  We don't want your family to be disappointed when they get here.  

Let them know about the travel times between attractions. We need to remember they are not from around your area.  They do not understand the traffic, and travel times.  

Plan the visit

If you need to take time off from work, or not.  Take in all the information they provided you, and your local knowledge, and make a rough plan.  My family does not like detailed plans.  I generally come up with an outline.  
  • Where I plan to take them and when.  
  • Where I an going to park.
  • Where we will eat a meal.
  • Daily start times and approximate return to home base times. 
Most times we host visitors, it's a day trip to downtown.  Family like to see the White House, the Washington Monument and Lincoln memorial. A good day of walking with the possibility of catching a few extra outdoor memorials along the way. 

Have fun!!

There was a general or commander that once said "All battle plans are great until you have first contact with the enemy."  it means, you can have the best plans, but when you start to execute those plans, life and things happen.  I think this is one of the reasons I like an outline as opposed to a detailed plan for family visits. Be prepared to answer questions for your family.  It makes them think you are really smart (a bonus), and they will get more out of the visit.  

Take photos with and for them.  In my case, I travel to the Washington DC 10 or more times a year.  I have taken enough bad photos to know, don't stand in front of the Washington Monument for a picture.  It looks like a horn.

I appreciate you visiting the site.  Please let me know some of your tips and tricks for being a family tour guide. 

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