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I use a travel agent to take student groups out of the country. And I've had students out as far as Yellowstone NP in this country. Oops, I just noted your interest in the Grand Canyon. The time of year and the amount of time you stay all figure greatly in planning your trip. Especially the time of year for the Grand Canyon. You're going to have to fly and then take a bus or rent something. Moreover, the economy of scale doesn't necessarily work for larger groups. And I simply won't go if I can't spend two weeks out west someplace. For the price, you might want to consider something cooler, with more to do, like Rocky Mountain NP or Yellowstone.

Most recently I have also taken groups to the Caribbean. Either way, don't expect a travel agent to save you money on air fares. The main utility of an agent (for me, at least) is to have someone who knows the system if you get into a real jam. This has happened to me twice and my agent saved our butts each time by going around the system to get us back in the air. AND, air travel used to be fun. Due to airline incompetence and partly due to the security stuff, it isn't anymore. For any significant travel (and especially if it involves young persons with questionable judgement) it can be a really ugly chore.

PM me and I'll give you details.


If you're thinking about DC, price the cost of travel by AmTrak. It is a really good way to go if you can get to the station, I'm not sure how close you are to the tracks. You won't need an agent at all. Just price it online.

Once you're in DC, you can use your legs for nearly everything except, maybe, Arlington. That's worth the cab fare or bus fare.

If you're interested in a good first experience, call ahead and try to find a church or something in DC that will let you use their basement or a rec room for sleeping. DC has a LOT of great stuff to do. If it was me, DC would be my choice. Fun, safer, much easier, and probably a lot less expensive.(This message has been edited by packsaddle)

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Packsaddle, thank you for your information. I'm not sure that we're ready to travel out west yet. I think DC sounds great to me, but I'm not sure that the boys are going to go for it. Did your boys enjoy this trip? What are some highlights that might appeal to the boys that I'm not thinking of? I happen to be a nerd and think that going to the White House and Congress is just neat.

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For a place to stay in DC....




If you've got bikes, you can cycle into DC from Mt. Vernon




For transportation, AmTrak is a fair way to go. I'll be headed to California shortly via train, about 3 days from my location to Sacramento. Then a short jaunt to Stockton to pick up a rental and on to Yosemite....the fair is a little over 300 for a roundtrip, about the price of flying a one way business class ticket...

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I actually know one unit that is also planning to go this December either right before or after Christmas. The highlights are nearly everything about the Smithsonian, some of the monuments (hard to predict reactions), the mint, the subway. Me, I enjoy visiting my relatives planted in Arlington. And I REALLY like the Reagan gargoyle on the national cathedral. ;)

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