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June 24, 2010 12:53 PM   Subscribe

We are flying back to Colorado from Washington Reagan (National) Airport [DCA] at 1:55 PM on July 6. We just got into an hour-long White House tour at 11 AM that day. Question: What should we do with our stuff during the tour?

Difficulty: Items that can be brought to White House are very limited - not even a purse is allowed. We can't check bags for our flight until 4 hours before the flight, i.e., 9:55 AM. We could do that, but there doesn't seem to be any storage at the airport for our carry-ons, which include a laptop. Right now the plan is to leave all our stuff at the hotel in Alexandria, take a taxi there after the White House tour, and take a taxi to the airport. Realistically, when would we get to the airport if we leave the White House at noon? Is there some place close to the airport where we could store our bags?
posted by lukemeister to Travel & Transportation (14 answers total)
You can usually check bags for a few in the airport, at certain locations throughout the airport (not with the airline). I've done this with huge things, like bikes. It can be a little pricey, as they're preying upon people with tight schedules, like yours.
posted by alex_skazat at 1:09 PM on June 24, 2010

Also see if a nearby train station has the same type of storage.
posted by alex_skazat at 1:10 PM on June 24, 2010

Alternatively, you could slip some money to the front desk people at a hotel near the White House to store your bags. (You'll have to wait for someone from DC to tell whether this is feasible, and/or which hotels would be best.) Or lie and say you just got into town and are checking in later; I'm not sure whether they'd check.
posted by madcaptenor at 1:11 PM on June 24, 2010

To follow up on alex_skazat's second comment, there is baggage storage at Union Station, which is the main train station for the city of Washington; see here for phone number if you want to call them, as I'm finding mixed results about whether it's available to people without train tickets, for example here.

But that won't help you, actually, mostly because Union Station is not that close to the White House. Alexandria to Union Station to the White House to Union Station to DCA is 18.9 miles, 48 minutes driving in four legs, while Alexandria to the White House to Alexandria to DCA is 18.9 miles, 44 minutes driving in three legs.
posted by madcaptenor at 1:19 PM on June 24, 2010

Could you rent a car for the day, to return at the airport, leave your stuff in the car?

I know DC is crazy for parking, but it seems like it might be the most efficient way to deal with your stuff and getting to the airport afterward.
posted by galadriel at 1:32 PM on June 24, 2010 [2 favorites]

You will be very tight on time if you have to go to Alexandria and back. Renting a car is the best idea I have seen. There are parking garages in the vicinity, but if you get there early you should be able to find 4 hour meter parking.
posted by procrastination at 1:54 PM on June 24, 2010

Renting a car does seem like the best idea - maybe something like ZipCar, rather than a full rental?
posted by alaijmw at 2:00 PM on June 24, 2010

18.9 miles, 48 minutes driving

This is cute. I don't recommend basing ANTHING on Google's driving times in DC.
posted by inigo2 at 2:02 PM on June 24, 2010

Luke! Bleh, the area around the White House is tough. Grabbing a car is a good idea, if you can swing it, as is dropping your stuff off at a hotel baggage check. The Hay Adams is closed for repairs, but you might try at the Sofitel at 15th and H. You could also try the Corcoran Gallery at 17th and E. The Natural History Museum at 12th and Constitution has storage lockers with keys.

Do not end up wandering around between Union Station and the White House, or the airport and the White House.

Your plan is not that bad, either. It's not, in DC terms anyway, a terribly long or roundabout route. You could probably get to the airport by one at the latest. It's just twenty minutes or so from the White House to DCA, though, so if you can figure out somewhere to stash your goods, you'll be much better off.
posted by peachfuzz at 2:36 PM on June 24, 2010 [1 favorite]

inigo2: okay, the number of minutes is a lie. My point was that the two plans were quoted at similar amounts of time, so might actually take similar amounts of time, even if the amount of time they actually take is much longer.
posted by madcaptenor at 2:51 PM on June 24, 2010

Well, the best way to get to the airport from the White House is probably going to be the metro if you don't have too much stuff. The airport is on the blue line. And luckily, so are the metro stations close to the White House! There is a Hilton Garden Inn that has luggage service on H and 14th St NW (one block down from the I St McPhearson Square exit of the metro!). From there, the White House is just a few blocks away. If you do decide to take a cab out of the city, 14th street is the route to be on because it's the easiest exit to the GW parkway and of course you'll find lots of cabs on it.

Good luck!
posted by whitetigereyes at 3:02 PM on June 24, 2010

Most hotels will hold bags, there are a bunch within walking distance from the white house.
posted by Hurst at 3:58 PM on June 24, 2010

Yeah, there are a lot of hotels around the White House. I think the W might be the closest. You could try calling them to see if they would hold your bags for you, for free or for a fee.

Cab rides are fastest on a good day, but you never know about the traffic; there could be some sort of diplomatic parade or something that slows everything down. Metro is pretty efficient to get down to DCA, so you can also look for a hotel near the MacPherson Square or Metro Center metro stations as well.
posted by bluefly at 5:53 PM on June 24, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks, everyone. I think we're going to rent a car. The next question is whether we can rent it in Alexandria or downtown DC instead of the airport. (Of course, we'd be returning it at the airport.)
posted by lukemeister at 11:37 AM on June 25, 2010

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