Disclaimer—I’m a Type A Planner. I plan most of my trips a year or more in advance. So when I have to throw together a trip in just 2 months, it seems very last-minute to me!
Last month, I explained why returning to Russia for a visit is complicated. My family made plans to update my boys’ Russian passports sometime this year so that we could jump on cheap flights to Russia when the opportunity arises.
I started working with a Russian passport agency to help translate our passport applications and get the ball rolling on visiting a Russian consulate in the U.S. In the process, the agency told me it would be much easier to renew my oldest son’s passport before he turns 14. He turns 14 this May, which doesn’t give us much time.
I had planned on traveling to Houston with my boys this summer to get it done, but based on this new information, I decided to move up the process. I did not want to pull my boys out of school to do this because they will already miss three days of school for our upcoming Hawaii trip.
My kids have one Monday off school in April for a teacher work day, so that would have to be the day. Except I couldn’t get an appointment at the Russian Consulate in Houston. The agency asked me if we could make it to the Russian Embassy in Washington, D.C. that day instead.
Why yes, we CAN go to Washington, D.C.! I have some airline miles and hotel points to help us out. Apparently, only one parent is required to go to the Embassy appointment, so I will travel with my boys and leave my husband home with our daughter to save on trip expenses (i.e. airport parking, pet sitting, points for extra people, etc.)
Flights to Washington, D.C.
Luckily, flights to Washington, D.C. for our desired weekend in April were not too expensive. Both American Airlines and Southwest had flights for around $220 round-trip.
Because my husband kept his Chase Sapphire Reserve and I have a Chase Ink Business card, we had some Ultimate Rewards points I could use to book our flights. I debated between booking AA flights in the CSR travel portal vs. transferring points to Southwest. I loved the idea of having reserved seats in AA since my boys are too old for family boarding on Southwest.
In the end, I decided to transfer points to Southwest in case the fare went down. The fare has already gone down once, so I was able to get some points back. Each round-trip ticket costs around 12,000 Southwest Rapid Reward points.
Hotels in Washington, D.C.
My first thought was to use my husband’s stash of Hilton points for the weekend. Hilton has a lot of properties right in the thick of everything. The cheapest price I found was 60,000 points, which was a little steep.
Next, I turned to my favorite brand, Hyatt. Leana mentioned a new Hyatt House property she was considering in her recent post for 8000 points per night. Unfortunately, that location has since raised its points price to 12,000 points per night and only King bed rooms that fit 2 people are available on points.
Hyatt has a few other choices in the downtown area. I remembered that one of our readers stayed at Hyatt Place Washington DC/National Mall. Free breakfast, great location, great reviews. Done! I was going to use a Points + Cash rate of 6000 points + $75 per night, but I found a low cash price to use instead so that I can conserve my Hyatt points for an anniversary trip next year.
I always thought we’d take our kids to DC someday, but not someday soon. I remember going when I was about 7 or 8 years old and I was bored to tears. But, my boys are 10 and 13, and I think they will actually enjoy the trip.
We land around noon on Saturday. We will take Uber or the Metro to our hotel to drop off our stuff before we begin exploring the city.
The great thing about Washington, D.C. is that so many things are free! I started looking at all of our options, and it’s overwhelming.
For sure, we will go to the National Air and Space Museum. It’s just a short walk from our hotel. I’d also like to see all of the outdoor monuments and possibly Smithsonian’s National Zoo. My younger son loves pandas, and that is one of only four zoos in the U.S. that has pandas.
We will have half a day Saturday and all day Sunday to sight-see. Our appointment at the Russian Embassy is on Monday morning, so we will have Monday afternoon free before our evening flight back to Dallas. The trip will be a whirlwind, I’m sure. We will likely be too late to catch the peak cherry blossom season, but you never know.
I haven’t broken the news to my daughter that the boys and I will be taking a trip without her. I thought about bringing her, but honestly, traveling with just 2 kids is so much easier than traveling with all 3. Plus, I do think she would be bored at least part of the time. I will take her to Washington, D.C. by herself in a few years so that she doesn’t miss out on the same experience. I am a real stickler about treating my kids fairly.
Tell me your favorite D.C. restaurants and attractions or any tips you have for my trip!
Nancy lives near Dallas, Texas, with her husband and three kids. Her favorite vacations include the beach, cruising and everything Disney.