Historic Sites in Northern Virginia for Student Travel Tours to Washington DC

Often when student travel groups decide upon Washington D.C. as their destination, the tour leaders have specific sites in mind for a visit. Many of the sites that student travel groups request the most are just outside Washington D.C., in Northern Virginia. In order to include these historic sites in a student travel tour, advanced planning is required. Usually, I advise educational travel groups to plan one year ahead for trips to the Washington D.C. area. Depending upon the site visited, special advance procedures to clear student visitors may be required.

An educational travel company needs to be retained to plan and execute an effective itinerary for Washington D.C. If popular historic or governmental sites in Northern Virginia are requested, the itinerary will accommodate these sites on one special day, or combine them effectively with other destinations on the student tour.

Here is an overview of some of the popular Northern Virginia sites for educational travel groups:

Pentagon Tour

The Pentagon is located just across the Potomac River from Washington D.C. in Arlington, Virginia. Many student travel groups are eager to see the headquarters for high-ranking officers of the U.S. Military and their aides. Because the Pentagon was attacked on September 11th, and it houses critical military personnel, it is a sensitive site. Despite the challenges to security, the U.S. government still provides student travel tours led by a uniformed and trained member of the U.S. Military. This tour has been provided to the public since 1976, when it was first initiated in celebration of our nation’s 200th anniversary. With proper advance notification, an educational travel group may schedule a one-hour tour of the Pentagon that includes about one and one half miles of walking through Pentagon corridors and grounds and a view of the highlights.

Arlington National Cemetery

Arlington National Cemetery is another historic site that fascinates and intrigues educational tour groups. Arlington National Cemetery was dedicated as a military cemetery on June 15th 1854. Veterans from all of the wars, both foreign and domestic, are buried here and the gravesites number around 300,000. The National Park Service administers Arlington House and its immediate grounds. The U.S. Army oversees Arlington National Cemetery and Soldier’s Home National Cemetery. Educational travel groups touring Arlington National Cemetery may have the opportunity to attend a Wreath Laying Ceremony or take a Tram tour, with advance planning.

Mount Vernon Estate and Gardens

Mount Vernon, the historic estate of George Washington lies just across the Potomac River from Washington D.C. a mere 16 miles distance from the nation’s capital. Mount Vernon is exquisitely preserved. Educational travel groups will be greeted at a brand new building, the Ford Orientation Center, and will tour The Donald W. Reynolds Museum and Education Center which houses 25 new theaters and galleries that narrate the entire story of George Washington’s life. The Reynolds museum displays 500 original artifacts, and offers 11 videos and Immersion Theater as a way of learning about our founding father.

Student travel groups can experience living history by observing a working 18th Century farm and gristmill, as well as other educational programs. Student travel groups may tour the mansion, gardens, working farm, and more.

Educational travel to Washington D.C. is greatly enhanced by trips to Northern Virginia historical points of interest. Places like the Pentagon, Arlington National Cemetery, and Mount Vernon should not be ignored on a student travel tour of the Washington D.C. area. For more information on specific points of interest in the Washington D.C. area for student travel groups, visit educationaltravelconsultants.com

Adventure Travel Wilderness and Hiking Trails Fees Rise

The good news for adventure travel and wilderness hiking trails is that the USA has protected some of the most unique and incredible places to see on earth. Our National, State Parks, Monuments and Wilderness Areas are awesome, but for years there have been reduced number of visitors. Many citizens have said that a four-year program to increase national parks entrance fees to make them more uniform may discourage some Americans from visiting their national parks such as the Grand Canyon, Yosemite, Zion and Yellowstone.

The National Parks have been faced with a budget crisis. The parks are struggling to protect the historic, cultural and natural resources that the parks were created for. The parks are short of funds for operating facilities, repairs to roads, bridges, trails and buildings. There was an 814 million dollar shortfall in 2006. There are almost 400 areas of protection covered by the National Parks Service. Almost every park has fewer full time employees now than in 2001, while there were over 273,000,000 visitors to the parks in 2005. The park service needs more funding to provide education, interpretive and for the safety requirements of their visitors. This is a time of controversy about park fees, current plans for oil, gas and mineral exploration in our parks and of course removing the O’Shaughnessy Dam to restore the Hetch Hetchy Valley in Yosemite.

Recently the federal government has moved to replace the National Park Service’s $50 annual pass with a new $80 multi-agency pass. Some people think that the fee increases are getting out of line. The park service raised entrance fees at 34 parks over the past two years and plans to raise them at another 124 parks in 2008 and 2009. At Glacier National Park in Montana and Joshua Tree National Park in California, the fees will go up twice, and beginning in 2011, park officials plan to increase fees every three years, based on inflation. There is a proposal to double entrance fees next year at Crater Lake National Park, now $10 per car. Will it drive the local visitors away? In 1997, when the park service began raising fees, the number of national parks visitors has fallen 1% while entrance fee revenue has gone up almost 16%. Many of them are from outside the United States and love to visit the American protected lands.

Will the National Park Centennial Act to rescue our parks before 2016 – the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service? The acts purpose is to eliminate the annual operating deficit and maintenance backlog in the national parks. If it passed, it was to create a check off box on American tax returns to fund the parks. As H.R. 1124 and S 886 it did not get passed in 2006. In spring of 2006 the Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued a report about our National Parks based on research, to the House Interior Appropriations Subcommittee that found that funding had not kept pace with need, requiring park managers to reduce services including, “reducing visitor center hours, educational programs, basic custodial duties, and law enforcement operations, such as back-country patrolling. Additionally, the park system has been forced to close campgrounds, shorten operating hours, eliminate many interpretive programs, lay off many seasonal rangers, and eliminate many of the parks’ scientific studies programs.

So where’s the good news? Being an outdoor writer and avid traveler to our parks and wilderness areas Bob Therrien, President of TrainingPASS Sales, Inc. has created an outdoor recreation message board, he commented “The hardest part over the years, for me has been the research about which parks, hikes, climbs, locations and activities I want to visit with my family and friends. Exploring federal then state website after site, then mapping the distance from each area of interest is inefficient and many times lacking in information. To solve that inefficiency we have collected all the basic information about our parks, wilderness areas and national monuments and put them into one website. I don’t personally have a problem with the new park fees. It cost’s me more to take my family to the movies, and I’d rather enjoy a full day or two at a place like Denali National Park.

The USA has incredible adventure travel wilderness and hiking trails. To promote these areas AdventureZoneTOURS created a forum for sharing trip reports on National Parks, State Parks, National Monuments and Wilderness Areas.

The Outdoor Adventure Message Board opens up to reveal a listing of U.S. States, separated into travel regions. Click on any state region and there are sub forums for all the parks, monuments and wilderness areas in that region. Many times there are several interesting choices to pick from within a state region. For the activity-specific minded, AdventureZoneTOURS.com encourages users to share trip reports for a variety of outdoor activities from hiking, climbing, canyoneering, geo exploring, photography, ghost towns, mines, and cave to water sports such as boating, fishing, jet and water skiing, tubing, rafting, and scuba. Winter travel sports such as snowmobiling, skiing and snowboarding are featured. Hunting locations, ATV and horseback trails as well as the most scenic areas for outdoor photography are also available as individual topic posts. To research or share your favorite adventure travel location, and to share and promote outdoors, join us today!

How to Deal With Outrageous Airline Travel Taxes

Nothing is as annoying as the taxes you have to pay while traveling internationally. In earlier years, you had to queue outside small kiosks situated in the airport to pay for the taxes, and then you would be required to retain the ticket as proof that you have paid for the taxes. Nowadays, the process is a lot simpler as the taxes are added to the total price of your airfare. This happens in all countries apart from a few that carry on with the kiosk tradition.

These taxes termed as departure or entry taxes, are in essence a method used by countries around the world to take advantage of travelers so as to gain profits from travelers. Since most countries now include the taxes in the fare, most travelers tend to forget about the taxes when it comes to traveling to countries where taxes are still paid in kiosks.

Airport departure fees vary in amount. They range from just a small amount of the local currency to costs as high as over $100 USD. This is the case for North American and Australian travelers traveling to Argentina, as they have to pay for the “reciprocity fee,” which is a form of tax that is equivalent to the fee that Argentine citizens have to pay to acquire a visa to their country.

Therefore, American travelers traveling to Argentina or Chile have to pay $131. This is equal to the price that any Argentine or Chile traveler has to pay, so as to acquire a visa to the United States. To be sure if the country that you are traveling uses departure taxes or not, you have to verify online for any country specific information on airport fees. Travel Nation has also made a compilation of a practical list of all the countries that require you to pay airport taxes in person. However, you should always be ready for any changes on the amounts and the tax prices in general.

It is therefore advisable to consult with the US Department of State Country Specific Information so that you can acquire sheets giving you the latest information about all the departure taxes. In addition, it helps to check with each airline for what type of travel tax fees they apply. For example, Southwest Airlines, which flies domestically in the United States advertises that they have no hidden charges. However, in most cases the taxes are not exempt because they are considered a charge from the government, not the airlines. Either way, travel taxes must be taken into consideration when planning a vacation that involves air travel.