Get close (enough) to the inauguration

You want to witness the dawning of the age of “hope” and “change” first-hand. You want to be their in person when President-Elect Barack Obama drops the second half of his current title. But, there’s a problem. You’re not alone. In fact, as many as two million people are expected to attend the inauguration, and hotel rooms are disappearing as far away as Pennsylvania, according to the latest from the Wall Street Journal. Airlines are adding flights. To make sure your trip to Washington goes smoothly, however, you’ll need to do more than grab a room and arrange travel to our nation’s capital. Heed the WSJ‘s tips, and you’ll start this new era without a hitch.

Whether you get a great spot close to the Capitol for the ceremony or a street-side view along the parade route, bring a sandwich – and nothing else. Umbrellas and strollers, it seems, are particularly prohibited. Metal detectors will be in abundance, and I suspect that patience will be in short supply. So, be prepared for some degree of inconvenience. I’m not talking the mild irritation of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade (to draw an example from my neighborhood). This is serious, much-worse-than-holiday-flying aggravation.

A lot of people are excited to attend the inauguration and related events. After the jump, you’ll find a video that shows the level of excitement involved, as well as a few tips on finding a hotel room (yes, it is possible).

Your chances of finding a reasonable hotel rate are pretty slim. Hotwire, everyone’s favorite anonymous deal website, is tapped out. The hotels have no excess inventory to move. But, you can find some action on You may have to be a bit flexible, especially in regards to how far you’ll have to stay from the festivities. And, it won’t be cheap. The closest hotel with rooms open is the Doubletree Hotel Bethesda, with rooms fetching more than $900 a night.

Maybe it would be easier to visit his old hometown instead …

[Thanks, Wall Street Journal, for the story and Fox News for the video]

Leap-year-themed travel discounts

This year, we get an extra day of life to enjoy. It wouldn’t be the WSJ online, if they didn’t suggest how to spend February 29th wisely and cost-efficiently.

Here are some travel leap-year themed bargains from the WSJ:

  • 29 Kimpton Hotel & Restaurant properties are offering discounts and packages. At seven Kimpton hotels in Washington, D.C., for example, guests who book two nights during the last weekend of February (Feb. 28-March 1) get Feb. 29 free.
  • In Portland, Oregon, guests born on Feb. 29 can get a $29 room rate on Feb. 29, and all other guests can get 29% off at Hotel Monaco and Hotel Vintage Plaza.
  • The Westin Aruba Resort has a “Leap Into Spring” package, available Feb. 29 to June 29, which includes 29% off each night booked. At the Las Palomas Beach & Golf Resort, Puerto Penasco, Mexico, guests booking two or three consecutive nights this month can get a third or fourth night free through Feb. 29.

Don’t take this as a hint to have 29 drinks next Friday. (Only if you were born February 29th.)

What strange things have been found on planes?

Click the image to read the bizarre story…