Washington DC Travel Tips

DC Area Travel Tips for the Holidays

November 26, 2019 | #travelwithcompass | By: The Goodhart Group

The DC region can be tricky enough to navigate any time of the year. Travel becomes even tougher during the holiday season with the roads and airports jammed packed. We decided to curate some of our locally themed travel tips for getting around the DC area during the holiday season.


In the Car 

If you’re going to be traveling on highways chances are there may be toll roads or Express Lane possibilities that you can use to save time. Make sure your EZ Pass has enough money on it before you hit the road. The last thing you want to do is sit in the Cash lane on the highway. If you don’t have an EZ Pass, you can easily purchase one at many retail locations in the area, including most Giant grocery stores in Northern Virginia.  

There’s also the new 395 Express Lanes that opened a couple of weeks ago to contend with as drivers now have the option to pay to hopefully save some time. The lanes have opened to some mixed reviews, but can hopefully save some time during the holiday travel season. You can also put in your entry and exit points into the Express Lanes app to see how much your trip could potentially cost.

Also, make sure that your car emergency kit is up to date. Common items often include a flashlight, extra batteries, car phone charger, drinking water, and common first aid items. Also make sure your spare tire is properly inflate plus that you have working jumper cables available too if needed. 

In the Air

If you’re flying during the holiday season, the biggest tip as always is to arrive at the airport a little earlier than you may typically arrive during other times of the year. The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) recommends arriving 2 hours prior to departure time for domestic flights and three hours for international ones. 

One thing to take advantage of is that both Reagan National and Dulles International are offering free parking in their respective garages for up to 60 minutes to help alleviate some of the congestion on the roadways around the terminals. This is a great thing to know if you’re picking up friends or loved ones from either airport.

There are also tons of apps available to help make your trip a smoother one. There are the DC Airports apps that show terminal and parking info for both Dulles and National airports. The airlines apps are also great resources as they update in real time if there are delays, cancellations, or gate changes. The can also track your bags for you if you checked them with the airline. Be sure to download these apps before you head out the door (For more on apps, be sure to check out our must download apps and accounts to follow as well!).

Additionally, here are some of TSA’s biggest tips to know during the holiday season travel rush.

If you’re headed to Reagan National and are packing light, consider taking Metro instead of driving or using rideshare apps. With the heavy construction around the airport, lengthy delays are expected around the roadways surrounding the airport. The airport’s Metro stop is on the Blue and Yellow lines and is connected directly to the airport terminal making it a very convenient option!