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I simply love planning vacations.  From picking the destination to researching hotels and activities it’s a big adventure to me, even before I step on the plane or set foot in my car.  To be planning two separate vacations is just double the fun.

In December we’ll be taking a road trip to Washington, D.C.  After reading blogs like The Points Guy I’ve decided to sign up for a few new credit cards since none of our cards earn any type of travel rewards.  One of the cards I got was the Hilton Reserve which will now give us a free 5th night when we stay 4 nights in a row at a Hilton hotel.  Because of this we decided to extend our stay in D.C. from 3 nights to 5 nights and I’m so glad I did because I’ve found a ton of things I want to visit while in our nation’s capital.

After researching activities in D.C. I never realized how many attractions there are free.  FREE!  That word is music to my budget-minded ears.  I sent off an email to our Congressman to set up tours to see the White House and US Capitol, both of which are free to US citizens.  The US Capitol tour could be set up immediately but the White House has to be requested with a range of dates and then we will find out about 2 weeks before our trip if we can go.  I assume this is because current events can change the availability of the White House to the public and therefore they can’t plan anything too far in advance.  Completely understandable.  Still, I’m really looking forward to seeing the White House decorated for Christmas.  Other free activities we plan on doing are visiting the Smithsonian National Zoo, the National Air & Space Museum and of course the National Mall.  We’re planning a child- and dog-friendly trip so we plan on taking Oso with us around the National Mall, though dogs are not allowed under the covered areas of the monuments so we will have to take turns with that.

In regards to our trip to Germany we decided that we would again use Hilton’s 5th night free offer and stay 5 nights in Munich and then take a train over to Paris for 3 nights.  We were considering other cities such as Zurich, Prague, and Vienna but Paris won out and I’m really looking forward to seeing the City of Lights.  Whilst in Munich we plan to take two days trips to Neuschwanstein Castle and Salzburg, Austria.  I am still researching activities to do in Paris but our vacation budget can only stretch so far and we might have to cut some activities from our itinerary based on how much we’ve saved.  So far my list consists of the Louvre, Arc de Triomphe, Eiffel Tower and perhaps a hop-on hop-off bus tour around the city.  Since this will be Lottie’s first international trip I don’t want to pack too much into our days.  I like to think of this trip as a little introduction to western Europe and nothing more.  Since we plan to come back again some day I don’t really feel the need to do everything in 9 short days.

I’m so excited that everything is starting to come together for our trips.  D.C. just needs a few more tweaks to the itinerary and then it’s done and I can really dive head first into our European trip planning.  

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