Washington D.C. & Southern Virginia Getting There

Southwest Airlines departing Dallas Love Field 7:15 AM
Thank you for visiting my vacations on a budget blog.  Our family enjoys travelling, but a budget is necessary. I created my blog to help others plan their next vacation. Over the next several weeks I will post a travel tip from our vacation to Washington D.C. & Southern Virginia in October 2017.  Don't forget to subscribe to my blog so you do not miss any of my posts about our trip to a place a nation was born! This week the blog will provide tips on getting to Washington D.C. without "breaking the bank". 

In the spring of 2017, as soon as the school calendar for the 2017-18 school year was available, I began planning a fall vacation.  I knew the fall season was a historically inexpensive time to travel. As luck would have it, the whole family would have a 3 day weekend for Columbus day!  I knew where I wanted to go this year - Washington D.C. We had previously visited our nation's capital in 2011 when my son was 7.  I knew I wanted to return one day when my son was older. Now that he was in the 8th grade, he would appreciate the history that is Washington D.C. In Texas, 8th grade students study U.S. history up to the year 1865.  The information my son would learn on our trip would be valuable to his school work.  He would miss a day of school, but how great is it that he was able to see the places he studied about in person? Priceless...

The Flight:
I began watching airfare prices for Columbus day weekend from Dallas, Texas to Washington D.C. I used Google Flights and Southwest Airlines web page to find the best deal. It took me a few weeks before Southwest ran a sale that could not be passed up.  At the end of April I found round trip tickets from Dallas, Texas to Washington Reagan Airport for $136 each!  This was a deal I could not pass up.  Booking the flight almost 6 months in advance really saved me money! We like flying Southwest Airlines because 2 bags fly free while other airlines nickel and dime you for every item you try to take on the airplane. 

I loved saving money but I also liked the flight times for my flight. Our flight departed Dallas Love Field Saturday morning at 7:15 A.M. with an arrival at 11:00 A.M. General travel tip: Saturday morning departures tend to be less expensive than Friday night departures. We like flights that depart in the morning going to a destination and flights that depart in the early evening coming home. This way you get the most time at a destination without having to pay for another night stay in a hotel. Our flight from Washington Reagan Airport departed Tuesday evening at 5:55 P.M. We would have almost 4 full days to visit Washington D.C. & Southern Virginia. 

One negative to an early flight to a destination is you must get to the airport 90-120 minutes before departure. We needed to be at the airport by 5:15 A.M. on a Saturday morning. OUCH!!! In addition, we were using Dallas Love Connection remote parking so we needed to be there by 4:45 A.M. Good thing we were excited about our trip or else this would have been VERY difficult for us to get there on time.  We live about 2 1/2 hours from the airport, making it difficult to drive in before our early morning flight.  Instead we opted to stay in a hotel near the airport the night before our flight. 

The Hotel:
The hotel for our night before the flight was the one night I spent the most time researching online.  Traditionally hotels near airports are hit or miss.  The ones that are not, tend to be priced out of my budget.  Paying in the ballpark of $200-$300 per night was more than I was willing to pay.  The hotel we ended up choosing, we literally spent 8 hours there & we showered & slept.  We left before breakfast & did not even turn on the TV. After much research & reading blogs I selected the Sleep Inn Dallas Love Field. We had never stayed in a Sleep Inn but we had stayed in a Choice Hotels sister property, Comfort Suites during our recent trip to the Pacific Northwest & liked it.  The price for the hotel was considerably less than other hotels closer to the airport (Embassy Suites).  Sleep Inn Dallas Love Field was a brand new hotel that just opened in April 2017.  The reviews were stellar on several websites I visited so I booked it about three weeks before our trip.  General travel tip: Make sure to select Easy Cancellation when you book your hotel room.  You can cancel IF the rates drop before your trip, and they usually do. A few days before our trip I checked the Choice Hotels website to see what my room rates were & the price had dropped to $105 per night, a savings of $35! Yippee! I cancelled my original reservation using the Choice Hotels website & booked the room at a cheaper rate.  
Sleep Inn Love Field Medical District Dallas
We arrived around 8:30 P.M. to find a well lit parking lot & a hotel with nice curb appeal.  The neighborhood looked to be in a business area with warehouses nearby, but at 8 PM in the evening you really cannot tell. We  were greeted by the front desk clerk who gave us a room as requested away from the elevator on the top floor. The room appeared to be clean & the beds were comfortable.
The room was clean & the beds were comfortable. The AC & surrounding neighborhood NOT GOOD!
I found the towels to be of lesser quality than I am accustomed to at other hotels. We experienced difficulty with the AC. Even though we had the thermostat set to 68 degrees we found the room to be hot all night long. All of these things would not have kept me from giving the Sleep Inn a higher rating. What keeps me from giving this hotel a higher rating is what we encountered as we left the hotel around 4:30 A.M. When we entered the lobby we saw a strange looking guy loitering about as we checked out. As we left the hotel, there were 2 ladies of the evening standing in front of the hotel. They HAD to be prostitutes based on the fact we could see more undergarments than we could see clothes. The two women then went into the hotel in the direction of the strange loitering guy. Feeling very uncomfortable, my husband opted not to go back into the hotel to get a cup of coffee. As we drove away, within 2 blocks from the hotel there was some sort of altercation where 2 police cars were detaining people. To call the neighborhood sketchy at 4:30 A.M. would be an understatement. Next time I will find a hotel in a better part of town. Next time I believe I will try the Embassy Suites Love Field. By the way, I tried to post this review on the Choice Hotels website & they never posted it.  Goes to show, you cannot trust all reviews get posted on hotel websites.  Seems to me like Choice did not want my review to be read by others.

The Flying Fish Irving Blvd. Dallas, Texas
The night before our flight we had dinner near Love Field at The Flying Fish Irving Blvd. Menu offerings include fish, shrimp, gumbo, chicken, crab, & a variety of desserts. The atmosphere was fun & the staff were friendly.  The food was plentiful and tasty.  We met family for dinner & enjoyed good fellowship in a welcoming environment.  We highly recommend The Flying Fish restaurant!
The Flying Fish Irving Blvd - good food, good atmosphere, good staff!

Airport Parking:
If you choose to park in the parking garage at Love Field Airport you will pay anywhere from $13 - $24 per day. This really begins to add up when you will be gone several days.  Some nearby hotels will offer stay & park free but after doing the math the price was still out of my budget.  Then I found Love Connection remote parking.  The cost is $6 per day.  There is a free shuttle to the airport.  The parking lot is well lit with an attendant on duty 24 hours a day 7 days per week. The only negative would be there is no garage. We have used Love Connection the last 3 times we have flown & have never had to wait for the shuttle to the airport.  We literally get out of our car & the shuttle is waiting for us. Maybe we were just lucky but it is nice not to have to wait. The shuttle ride is about 5-7 minutes to the airport.  You are dropped at the entrance into the airport where you check your bags. The attendant even helps you get your bags on & off the shuttle bus. For our trip back from the airport, we have never had to wait for the shuttle for more than 5 minutes. We highly recommend parking at the Love Connection
Love Connection parking is $6 per day!

Reasons to LOVE Love Field:
Love Field Dallas, Texas
We like flying from Love Field better than DFW because:
  • Size.  Love Field is MUCH smaller than DFW. 
  • Restaurants. Love Field has a variety of tasty restaurants passed security.
  • Charging stations are easy to find.
  • Cleaner.
  • Friendly. The staff at Love Field seem happy to work there.
Southwest Airlines:
Southwest Airlines boards the plane by groups.  Check in early to get the best seats.
We are frequent Southwest fliers for a variety of reasons. First you can check 2 bags FREE! Most airlines nickel and dime you for every little item you wish to carry with you.  NOT Southwest! While some airlines might offer lower ticket prices, by the time you add on baggage fees you are usually paying more than flying Southwest to begin with. Southwest has some really GREAT SALES! I frequent the Southwest web page checking for sales.You sit anywhere you want on the plane.  If you want to sit together as a group, make sure at least one of you purchase the Early Bird ticket add on for $15 each way so you are automatically checked in for the flight 36 hours before departure. If you do not purchase Early Bird, then make sure you check in at exactly 24 hours before your flight so you get an early boarding group. Southwest boards the airplane in preassigned groups.  Those who are in the A group will get their choice of seats.  Those who are in the C group will get the leftover (middle) seats. Remember check in at the 24 hour mark prior to departure so you can get an early boarding group. A final reason we like to fly Southwest is the staff.  The flight attendants just seem to be in a better mood than some other airline flight attendants.  This helps make an otherwise long flight comfortable. 

Below is a map of the places mentioned in this blog post in the order we visited.

I hope this blog has helped you plan your next vacation.  If you are trying to decide where next to go, check out the menu to the right for some other family vacations on a budget we have taken over the years. 

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May God bless you on every adventure of your life.