The fanny packs are coming: 8 million tourists to D.C.

Photo of the open Metro doors Tuesday morning between the Van Ness and Tenleytown stations. (Courtesy Monica Arpino via Twitter)

Andrew Mollenbeck,

WASHINGTON – Fold-out maps and fanny packs are coming to a Metro line near you.

According to the American Public Transportation Association, 8.3 million visitors will arrive in Washington this summer.

“Of those 8 million people, about six out of 10 will be using public transportation to get around to see some of the sights,” says Mantill Williams, a spokesman for APTA.

The survey, conducted in mid-May, projects an increase in the number of people visiting the national capital region.

Only Chicago ranks ahead of Washington for the country’s top summer tourist destination.

Of those who are planning a summer trip to a city nearby, nearly 60 percent plan to use local public transportation to save money and avoid the hassle of driving and parking a car in a downtown area, the nationwide survey found.

Williams gives the annual reminder about the summer seatmates on Metro.

“Instead of sitting next to someone with a suit, you might be sitting next to someone in shorts and flip-flops or someone that might engage you in conversation,” he says, joking about the Washington norm of reading a paper or checking mobile phones during the commute.

APTA is providing tips for tourists on how to “Travel like a local” to make it easier for both tourists and locals. Check them out below:

  • Visit www.publictransporta to find out information on the local public transit system in the city you will be visiting.
  • Use the system’s trip planner, or Google Transit to plan your routes.
  • Choose a hotel near a public transit line; you can eliminate or significantly reduce your need for a car during your trip.
  • If arriving by plane or train, look for ways to use local public transit to get from the airport or train station into the heart of the city – this is usually significantly cheaper than a taxi and you can check out what’s going on in the city rather than worrying about which turn to make.
  • Consider buying a day or week pass rather than paying by the trip. These passes are often more affordable, and allow you to get to your destinations quicker since you won’t have to stop and pay a fare each time you ride.
  • Utilize that smartphone. Many systems have apps available that make using their systems even easier, helping you locate stops on a map, telling you when the next train or bus is coming – it’s like having a personal assistant.
  • Travel off-peak to avoid the crowds. You will also avoid making all the worker bees jealous of your care-free vacation mode demeanor.
  • Wear comfortable commuter shoes – fashionable ones of course. Remember you will be doing some walking and getting exercise as you visit the sites.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask. The drivers and staff are there to help you, and most fellow passengers are happy to help as well.
  • Have fun! You’re on vacation after all. Use the time you are riding to your next destination to plan where to dine, what exhibit to see or what to do next.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)

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