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Travel Tips

Whether you are a first-time visitor or a returning guest, be sure to review our list of resources before you travel to Washington, D.C.

LOCAL TIME

Eastern Time - ET

Daylight Savings Time in the US will begin on March 9, 2014. During ICA 2014, Washington DC will be 4 hours behind GMT (GMT-4).

Approximate Sunrise/Sunset times:

DateSunriseSunset
Mar 30, 20146:56 AM7:30 PM
Mar 31, 20146:54 AM7:31 PM
Apr 1, 20146:53 AM7:32 PM
Apr 2, 20146:51 AM7:33 PM
Apr 3, 20146:50 AM7:34 PM
Apr 4, 20146:48 AM7:35 PM

CONVERSIONS: DISTANCE AND TEMPERATURE

Distances throughout the United States are given in miles.
1 mile = 1.6 kilometers
10 miles = 16 kilometers

Temperature is given in degrees Fahrenheit.

40 degrees F = 4 degrees C
50 degrees F = 10 degrees C
60 degrees F = 16 degrees C
70 degrees F = 21 degrees C
80 degrees F = 27 degrees C

Several Smart Phone Apps for weather also offer conversion options for Fahrenheit/Celcius, such as The Weather Channel, AccuWeather, NBC4 Weather. These apps are available for download from The Google Play and Apple Stores on Iphones and Androids.

CURRENCY AND FOREIGN EXCHANGE

The United States currency is the Dollar.

An up-to-date currency converter is available.

Foreign currency can be exchanged at most commercial banks

Standard Banking Hours:
Monday – Friday: 9:00am – 5:00pm
Saturdays: 9:00am – 12:00pm
ATMs are widely available and are mostly open 24 hours a day for cash withdrawals.

Further tips are available for trying to conserve money while visiting Washington, D.C.

DRESS CODE

The dress code in Washington, D.C. is mainly casual and smart casual, except in some restaurants and clubs that require more formal attire.

At ICA 2014, business casual attire is suggested for the meeting sessions and the Sunday evening Welcome Reception. It is best to wear layered clothing as meeting rooms tend to fluctuate in temperature. Please dress in business attire for the Thursday evening gala dinner.

Casual attire appropriate for the various ICA 2014 tours; with a respectful degree of cover requested for any visits to churches, memorials, cemeteries, and other similar formal public spaces. Please be sure to wear comfortable walking shoes for all of the tours.

ELECTRICITY

120 volts, 60Hz, A&B plug

EMERGENCIES

Dial 911 for Emergency services, and dial 311 for Non-Emergency services.

SMOKING

Smoking is banned in public buildings in Washington, DC (and most US states) and on planes, buses and trains in the US unless explicitly indicated.

The Marriott Wardman Park  is a no-smoking property in all of the meeting rooms and interior spaces, but has limited smoking areas just outside the “24th Street tour bus entrance” and just outside several of the other doors.  Smokers please inquire at the hotel upon arrival for more details.

FACILITIES FOR THE DISABLED

All US airports provide passenger aid units for the disabled. All US public facilities also provide aid to the disabled. The larger rental car agencies can provide vehicles with hand controls.

LANGUAGE

The United States official language is English.

MEDICAL SERVICES

Emergency care is excellent and widely available in Washington, D.C. The United States has no national health scheme, so it is advisable to purchase travel insurance that will cover medical expenses during the period of your stay.

MEDICATION

Should you require regular medication, make note of the generic (official) name. This is consistent internationally, whereas the brand (marketing) name can vary between countries. Indicate your usual strength and dose. A doctor's letter and prescription should ensure you have no problems at customs.

Determine prior to departure if your medication is readily accessible at your destination (over-the-counter vs. prescription). Carry all-important medication in your carry-on luggage to avoid problems should your checked luggage be lost or delayed en route.

PASSPORTS AND VISAS

Passports must be obtained in your home country. A Visa may be required for entry into the US from your home country. Check with your embassy or consulate for more information.

PETROL (GASOLINE) FILLING STATIONS

Gas stations are conveniently situated throughout the country. Most filling stations in major cities are open 24 hours a day. U.S. filling stations accept credit cards, debit cards, and cash.

RULES OF THE ROAD

Washington, D.C. is known for a high level of commuter traffic. It is much easier to make your way around the city by way of public transit or taxi. Renting a car to drive yourself is highly discouraged, however should you decide to drive, please review the Washington, D.C. traffic laws.

An alternative to driving is using the Washington Metro.

SAFETY AND SECURITY

Your safety and well-being are of utmost importance to Americans, but, as always, travelers should take a few basic precautions to ensure a safe and pleasant visit:

  • Never leave personal property unattended
  • Store valuables in your hotel's safety deposit box
  • Keep your hotel room locked
  • Do not stand close to the Metro platform when the train is not in station
  • Avoid displaying expensive jewelry
  • Do not carry large sums of money on your person
  • Stay away from dark, isolated areas
  • When travelling by car, plan your route in advance
  • When parked or driving, place valuables out of sight in the trunk
  • Never give strangers a lift

SALES TAX

Sales Tax rates vary by state. Check with any states you plan to travel to for their current sales tax rates.

Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C., has a sales tax rate of 6.00%. The tax is imposed on sale of tangible personal property and selected services. A 10% tax is imposed on liquor sold for off premises consumption, 10% on restaurant meals (including carry-out) and rental cars, 12% on parking, and 14.5% on hotel accommodations. Groceries, prescription and non-prescription drugs, and residential utilities services are exempt from the District's sales tax.

Maryland
Maryland has a 6% state sales and use tax, with exceptions for medicine, residential energy, and most non-prepared foods. The selective sales tax on alcohol is 9%. An 11.5% tax is imposed on short-term passenger car and recreational vehicle rentals.

Virginia
Virginia has a sales tax rate of 5.00% (4% state tax and 1% local tax). Consumers are taxed on every 'eligible food item.' For example, fresh local produce sold at farmers markets and grocery stores, or basic, unprepared cold grocery foods, are taxed 2.5% (1.5% state tax and 1% local tax). Cities and counties may also charge an additional "Food and Beverage Tax" on restaurant meals, up to an additional 4% in counties and 6.5% in cities. Virginia also has a tax on alcohol of 11.5%.

SHOPPING

There is great shopping all around Washington, D.C. Here are a few key areas for great shopping and links to their websites:

TELEPHONES

U.S. telephone dialing codes:
International: 011
To call internationally out of the U.S., dial 011 and then the country code.

TIPPING

A comprehensive guide for tipping hotel staff, taxi drivers, etc. is available online.

It is customary to tip waiters, bar tenders, taxi drivers, porters/bell hops, and other service providers. Depending on the service, the amount should be around 15%-20% of the bill.

TRAVEL HEALTH INSURANCE

This is very important: take time to choose a suitable policy that provides adequate cover (including possible medical evacuation). Ensure that you understand what the policy covers and how it works (read the small print), as well as relevant contact details.

WEATHER

  • Local Weather
    The weather in Washington, D.C. is fairly mild in March and April. Below is the average high and low temperatures and average precipitation for these months.
    March = Low: 38F High: 56F Precip: 3.48 inches
    April = Low: 47F High: 67F Precip: 3.06 inches
  • Sun Protection
    The sun in Washington, D.C. can be strong. Sunscreen with a sun protection factor of 15 or higher is recommended.

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