If you’re following me on Facebook, Instagram and/or Twitter then you know I just returned from our nation’s capital to take part in the White House Travel Blogger Summit on Study Abroad and Global Citizenship. Here’s how my trip panned out.

Natalie and I flew in a few days early so she could see some of the sights and so I could attend USA Today Travel’s Frequent Traveler University (FTU). We flew in and out of Reagan National Airport (DCA), which is by far the most convenient airport for traveling to DC since it’s only a few miles from the city. On top of that, it’s a beautiful airport—especially at Christmas time (see photo above).

Hyatt Regency Crystal City
Saturday night, Natalie and I stayed at FTU’s host hotel, which was the Hyatt Regency Crystal City at Reagan National Airport. The conference rate was only $99 and they have a free shuttle to and from the airport. The hotel was decent and I loved using their Web Check-In service, which emails you when your room is ready and then allows you to bypass the front desk by using one of their kiosks to receive your room keys.

Taking In The Sights
The following day was forecasted to be the only sunny day for our four-day trip. We took an UberX from the Hyatt to the Ritz-Carlton Pentagon City, checked into the hotel, left our bags with the bellman and hopped back in the same UberX. We had the driver drop us off at the Lincoln Memorial (total ride cost was $16.89). We walked to some of DC’s major sites including the Korean and Vietnam War Memorials, The Washington Monument and, of course, the White House. By that time, we were freezing and after making a pit stop at the White House Visitor Center to use the loo, we jumped back in another UberX to our hotel.

Ritz-Carlton Pentagon City
The Ritz-Carlton is one of my favorite hotel chains in the world so when a friend who works there offered me an incredible rate, I couldn’t turn it down. Pentagon City caters mostly to government employees since it’s right across the street from the Pentagon but I did see a lot of locals enjoying Afternoon Tea and having a weekend escape. I love that it’s conveniently located in the Fashion Centre Mall, ten yards from the Pentagon City Metro so it’s only two stops from downtown DC and Reagan Washington National Airport. Or you can take a taxi or an UberX the three miles to the heart of DC.

The White House Travel Bloggers Summit
Talk about the invitation of a lifetime. When the invite came into my email, I thought it might’ve been a brilliant phishing technique as they asked for my social security number. After cross-checking Facebook, I found that I had a mutual friend with the person who’d sent me the invitation and she confirmed that it was all legit. The White House invited some of the top 100 travel bloggers and digital influencers (the entire list is below) from around the world, not just the country.

They also brought in some heavyweights to speak to us, including: Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker, Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes, Chief of Staff to Michelle Obama Tina Tchen, Assistant Secretary of State Evan Ryan, Director of the White House Social Innovation and Civic Participation Jonathan Greenblatt, and Peace Corps Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet.

Unfortunately, I got food poisoning for only the third time in my life so I missed the actual summit. However, I rallied and sucked it up (literally) for the tour of the White House to see their Christmas decorations. It was beautiful but security was so tight—even for those who had appointments—that everyone had to stand out in the freezing cold rain for about an hour. Tours are open to the public but have to be reserved well in advanced. If you go for a White House tour in the winter months, be sure to dress warm and bring an umbrella and your ID.

Although I missed the whole summit, there are some resources online including a YouTube of the first three speakers. The whole summit was about the importance of studying overseas. The White House hopes to get more students to go overseas. Currently, fewer than 10 percent of students take part in study-abroad programs and of the ones who do, 76 percent are white. According to the Washington Post:”Legislation has languished on Capitol Hill to create a federal grant program to motivate universities to help achieve a national goal of 1 million U.S. college students studying abroad by 2020, and to more “nontraditional destinations outside Western Europe.”

At 3:00 PM today, (Thursday, December 11, 2014) the White House will have the Federal Government pushing out one big synchronized social media blitz using the hashtag #StudyAbroadBecause. To kick off the conversation, Hyperactivate’s Mosaic has created the tool below to get people engaged.

Sadly, I didn’t study abroad and it’s one of my big life regrets but I did go from Connecticut to California to study so that’s almost like studying abroad since the two states felt like countries apart to me – and it meant leaving my family. But to those students who do study abroad or who want to, I can promise them and their parents that it will make them a much better person. They will gain a cultural sensitivity and global awareness, which is very important and even essential to a career. As Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker said, “Exposure to people outside of the U.S. can have profound effect on a person.”

List of Attendees:

  • Aaron Wodin-Schwartz
  • Alex Ayling
  • Alex Beauchamp
  • Alison Tatham
  • Amelia Tseng
  • Anastasia Dellaccio
  • Andrea Leitch
  • Angela Ferragamo
  • Anna Irwin
  • Audrey Bergner
  • Ayesha Gilani
  • Barbara DeLollis Contreras
  • Beth Santos
  • Brad Bernard
  • Bradley Halpern
  • Brandon Lewis
  • Brendan Kownacki
  • Brian Whalen
  • Britt Hysen
  • Brooke Burdick
  • Cameron Hogan
  • Carol Cain
  • Caroline Makepeace
  • Caryn Davidson Schlossberg
  • Chris Christensen
  • Chris McGinnis
  • Chrysula Winegar
  • Claudine Halabi
  • Clifford Chiet
  • Colleen Lanin
  • Corina DuBois
  • Craig Makepeace
  • Darla Phillips Martin
  • David Lee
  • Deborah Harris
  • Dennis Lamme
  • Donald Wildman
  • Elena Sonnino
  • Elizabeth Thorp
  • Elizabeth Whitman
  • Emily McKhann
  • Erin Lowry
  • Ezekwin Mosby
  • Geraldine DeRuiter
  • Glenn Azuma
  • Greg Hubbs
  • Gregory Staley
  • Jaime Fraser
  • Jennifer Burden
  • Jessica Plautz
  • Jessie Voigts
  • Jodi Bettencourt
  • John Arundel
  • John DiScala
  • Juan Luis Reus
  • Justin Herman
  • Kara Williams
  • Kate McCulley
  • Kelly Craighead
  • Kelly Lewis
  • Kelsey Timmerman
  • Ken Roberts
  • Kenneth Calvert
  • Kevin O’Leary
  • Kimberly Evans
  • Kristen Rein
  • Kristin Musulin
  • Lara DiPaola
  • Laurie Wooden
  • Leslie Magraw
  • Leticia Barr
  • Lillie Marshall
  • Marc Fischman
  • Mark Ayling
  • Mark Overmann
  • Mark Van Der Heijden
  • Marlene Johnson
  • Mary Anne Potts
  • Matt Long
  • Matthew Karsten
  • Mehdy Ghannad
  • Melissa Wildman
  • Michael McColl
  • Mickela Mallozzi
  • Nadine Sykora
  • Natalie Bahadur
  • Nathaniel Boyle
  • Netanya Trimboli
  • Nicholas Namba
  • Patricia Rojas
  • Paula Froelich
  • Pauline Frommer
  • Perrin Doniger
  • Phillip Datcher
  • Polly Palumbo
  • Ricardo Gomes
  • Rob Fenstermacher
  • Robert Reid
  • Rolf Potts
  • Russell Hedge Jr.
  • Samantha Brown
  • Sarah Swaisgood
  • Stefanie Michaels
  • Talia Salem
  • Taralynn McNitt
  • Terry Heick
  • Vanessa Chiasson
  • Yasmine El Baggari
  • Claudia Palma

Patent pending, Hyperactivate
DCA Airport
Dinner at Clydes
Hyatt Regency Crystal City Check-In Kiosk
Hyatt Regency Crystal City Check-In Kiosk
Attending FTU in DC
Driving by Washington Monument
Lincoln Memorial
Lincoln Memorial
Lincoln Memorial
Lincoln Memorial
The Korean War Veterans Memorial
Walking to the Washington Monument
Outside of the White House
Outside of the White House
Vietnam Veterans Memorial
Vietnam Veterans Memorial
Crisp fall day in Washington DC
Ritz-Carlton, Pentagon City
Ritz-Carlton, Pentagon City
Ritz-Carlton, Pentagon City
Ritz-Carlton, Pentagon City
Ritz-Carlton, Pentagon City
Afternoon Tea at Ritz-Carlton, Pentagon City
Club Lounge at Ritz-Carlton, Pentagon City
Turndown treats Ritz-Carlton, Pentagon City
U.S. Capitol
Supreme Court Building
Russell Senate Office Building
The Washington Harbour in Georgetown
Fiola Mare in Georgetown
Dinner at Fiola Mare in Georgetown
At the White House
Tour of the White House Christmas Decorations
Tour of the White House Christmas Decorations
Tour of the White House Christmas Decorations
Tour of the White House Christmas Decorations
Tour of the White House Christmas Decorations
Tour of the White House Christmas Decorations
Tour of the White House Christmas Decorations
Tour of the White House Christmas Decorations
Tour of the White House Christmas Decorations
Tour of the White House Christmas Decorations
Tour of the White House Christmas Decorations
Tour of the White House Christmas Decorations
Tour of the White House Christmas Decorations
Tour of the White House Christmas Decorations
Leaving the White House
Watching the White House Travel Bloggers Summit

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6 Comments On "My Trip To Washington DC for the White House Travel Bloggers Summit"
  1. Everybody Hates A Tourist|

    I don’t see the list of attendees? I’d love to see who was there since I’m always on the lookout for more travel bloggers to follow.

    1. Johnny Jet|

      Sorry for the delay — I just added the list.

  2. Jessica @ The Dining Traveler|

    Sorry you got sick but glad you at least got to see some of the sights of DC! I just love living in a city that makes me feel like a traveler. I watched the conference while it streamed online and it made me feel proud that I got to do my whole master’s program abroad. Hope more students have access to such a great experience!

  3. teo|

    I have been planning for a World tour, and my wife and I purchased some attractions tickets, for the Colosseum and BonAppetour dinners (a dining experience with locals) and many more. Check out the site, we have hosts for different places throughout the World.

  4. Mark Pinheiro|

    Hi Johnny,

    Sorry to hear about the food poison event! It must have been an awesome Summit to attend. I hope one day I will be on the top 100 to be able to join you ;-).

    You mention the guest list in your post, but I did not find it. Where can I get a list of participants?

    I also got a press release from Turkish Airlines saying they invited all of you to their Travel Blogger Summit in Istanbul. I bet it will be great as well!

    Safe travels,


    1. Johnny Jet|

      Sorry for the delay — I just added the list.

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