Johns Hopkins University, located in the historic, vibrant city of Baltimore, is also in close proximity to both the nation’s capital and one of the largest cities in the nation, Philadelphia. Though traveling to a variety of cities from Baltimore is possible and quite easy, I am going to focus on the most convenient, Washington DC.
First, I would like to dispel three classic misconceptions about traveling while in college: 1) Yes, you should travel. As busy college students we can often come up with countless reasons not to explore another place, but one must remember that getting away is important. Traveling enriches the individual with valuable knowledge and experience. 2) Traveling can be easy. By planning ahead and doing your research traveling can be a stress-free experience. It can be intimidating to venture to a new city for the first time, ask your friends who have traveled there for recommendations. Research transportation options online and make an itinerary for yourself; even if limited this planning is crucial to maximizing your experience. 3) Traveling can be cheaper than expected. By planning ahead and asking for recommendations, as aforementioned, one can gain significant insight into the most cost-effective transport and dining options. Make sure to pack the essentials and book tickets in advance, when applicable.
Overview: Preparation -> Packing -> Transportation -> Arrival
Select your dates, decide on the duration of your trip, consider the activities you wish to pursue in Washington DC, research your transport, and book lodging if you plan to stay for more than one day. I start by searching for a weekend that is free, knowing that I will have to complete assignments and other commitments beforehand so that I have plenty of time to enjoy myself. Then, I research any special events occurring in Washington DC; there are always festivals, shows, and other events occurring.
Examine the weather. Make sure to bring all that you may need with you to avoid unnecessary purchases. I find a small duffel and my school backpack to be perfect for a weekend trip. Some items I always make sure to bring are a reusable water bottle, sunglasses, snacks, a light jacket, my portable charger, and a pair of headphones. I try to pack light so that there is less hassle with transport.
There are multiple options to travel to the nation’s capital, varying in time and cost. My personal favorite is the MARC Train. Running from Baltimore’s Penn Station to Washington DC’s Union Station, tickets each way cost only $8 and travel time is about an hour. One can find the schedule for the MARC train here. To get to the MARC train at Penn Station from the JHU Homewood Campus, one has even more options including UBER, the MTA bus, the Charm City Circulator, and the JHU JHMI, with the last two being free options. I take the Homewood-Peabody JMHI which runs approximately every 15 minutes to an hour depending on the day. As mentioned, it is a free option that conveniently picks up by the Barnes and Noble adjacent to campus and stops right in front of Penn Station. The JHMI Schedule can be found here. In addition, the app TransLoc conveniently syncs with the JHMI and a handful of other JHU transportation options, it can be found here.
After one arrives in the capital, there are even more options for transport around the city. I find the Washington DC Metro to be the most cost-effective option, with UBER filling the gaps. I use the transit option on my IOS Maps App to navigate the metro as it proves to be very trustworthy. Walking around the National Mall is a pleasure and something most visitors will be doing a lot of. Washington DC, like Baltimore, is a city filled with rich history, culture, and great food. Take your time and savor this wonderful city!
My Pro Tips:
Add a fair amount of money to your Washington DC metro card if you plan on using the metro to travel around; I always add around 10 dollars for the day.
When buying tickets for the MARC train at Penn Station in Baltimore purchase as many tickets as you will be traveling to and from. Tickets can be used either way and on any day. For example, if you plan to head to Washington DC two weekends in a row, buy four MARC train tickets in Baltimore so that you can just walk on the train and not have to worry about waiting at the ticket machine.
Give yourself between 30 minutes and an hour to get to Penn Station from the JHU Homewood Campus. This accounts for travel time, buying tickets at Penn Station, and finding the loading dock for MARC train.
When you plan to return to Baltimore, navigating Washington DC to arrive at Union Station can be difficult. Give yourself about an hour to get to Union Station accounting for travel time on the metro, switching lines, and finding the loading dock for MARC train, which is significantly more confusing in Union Station.
If you plan to tour the museums at the National Mall you will be walking a lot. Reusable water bottles are critical to saving money, being more sustainable, and staying hydrated. The Mid-Atlantic can be quite variable in its weather, try to plan outfits in advance that can be adapted to the climate. Hence, some must-haves include comfortable walking shoes and a reusable water bottle, while checking the weather in advance.
My Experience with Washington DC:
I absolutely love visiting Washington DC, it is an extremely interesting city with a bounty of activities. Whenever I visit I go for the weekend and visit my wonderful high school friends at Georgetown University. Thank you for always hosting me Andrew, Mary Kate, and Zach! My favorite things to do include touring The National Gallery of Art, The National Museum of the American Indian, The National Air and Space Museum, the United States Botanic Garden, Theodore Roosevelt Island, and Capitol Hill. The neighborhood of Georgetown is where I spend most of my time with its phenomenal dining and shopping. Since I frequent Washinton DC, I always have a couple of MARC train tickets on hand. A sample of the travel route I take to visit my friends at Georgetown University can be found below along with a few photos from my visits. Safe travels!
From Johns Hopkins to Georgetown:
(1) UBER from JHU Homewood Campus to Baltimore Penn Station (~10 minutes) or Homewood-Peabody JMHI (~15 minutes)
(2) Take MARC train (buy tickets at Penn Station) from Penn Station Baltimore to Union Station DC (~1 hr)
(3) Take DC Metro from Union Station to Metro Center, RED Line Toward Shady Grove (6 minute ride, comes every 10-15 minutes)
(4) Take DC Metro to Rosslyn Station (Options include: Silver (Toward Wiehle Reston East), Blue (Toward Franconia-Springfield), or Orange Line (Toward Vienna Fairfax-GMU)). (9 minute ride, periodic times)
(5) Exit Rosslyn Station and take UBER to Georgetown front gate (~10 minutes)
From Georgetown to Johns Hopkins:
(1) UBER from Georgetown front gate to Rosslyn Station
(2) Take DC Metro from Rosslyn Station to Metro Center (Options include: Silver (Toward Largo Town Center), Blue (Largo Town Center), or Orange Line (Toward New Carrollton)). (9 minute ride, periodic times)
(3) Take DC Metro from Metro Center to Union Station toward Silver Spring or Glenmont (6 minute ride, comes every 8 minutes)
(4) Exit Metro Station and take MARC Train Northbound from Union Station DC to Penn Station Baltimore (~1 hr)
(5) Exit Penn Station Baltimore and take UBER to JHU Homewood Campus (~10 minutes) or Homewood-Peabody JMHI (~15 minutes)