How to go to Washington



I was hanging with a friend the other night who did not, as I did, spent her formative years climbing into 4:00 am buses, cars, trains, and on a few memorable occasions in rented U-Haul trucks with hay in the truck bed for shock absorption (yes, it was illegal), going to DC for this, that, and the other demonstration.  She is, however, going to the Women’s March on the 21st.  We talked about what to take/wear, and what not to take/wear, and she asked if I’d be willing to share these ideas on this blog.  Well, you betcha! Feel free to share if this is helpful and to add ideas in the comment section if you want.

  1. Wear comfortable shoes. You’ll be on your feet all day.
  2. Wear thick socks.  See above.
  3. Dress in layers. The forecast right now is calling for 50’s and cloudy, so that’s good, but be prepared if it goes lower, because standing around for 6-8 hours in 40-ish degree weather can put a chill in your bones.
  4. Bring a hat, and gloves, even if you think you won’t need them.
  5. Do not, however, bring a backpack. Or a big purse. Nothing that you can be grabbed by, and, alas, nothing that can be pickpocketed. You see this March as a way to express your lefty opinion. The opposition sees it as a way to protest your expressing that opinion. And crooks see a crowd as a golden opportunity. That backpack on your back is too big a target for both those guys.
  6. If you need something to carry stuff in, a diagonally-slung fanny pack is your best bet. Into it, or into your pockets, you want to put:
    1. Your ID — driver’s license, that sort of thing.
    2. About $100 in cash.
    3. One credit card.
    4. Your insurance ID (I know, but shit happens).
    5. Whatever medication you can’t live without, a 24-hour supply in a prescription bottle.
    6. Your DC Metro card, which I hear you can buy in advance on the DC Metro site.  Whenever you buy it, make sure to load it with enough money to get you back to your hotel or meeting point after the March.  Otherwise you’ll be standing in a very long line.
    7. Your cell phone, and a spare battery charger for same.
    8. Sunglasses.
    9. Lip balm.
    10. Whatever you use for energy snacks. I’m partial to Lara Bars, myself. There won’t be much opportunity to buy food along the route or at the Mall, or wherever we end up.
  7. In another pocket, put a piece of paper with your name and emergency contact number(s). If either you or your cell phone keel over, and/or your fanny pack goes missing, this will be useful. Also, if you get arrested (see below) they’ll take your cell phone.
  8. Water? Opinions differ, but I’m against it. It’s just another thing to carry, you’re not likely to dehydrate to the point of danger in 6-8 hours on a cloudy day, AND:
  9. There will be very, very limited opportunities to pee. Do not head to the March straight from your Vente Latte. A word to the wise.

Now: in case of trouble?

  1. Keep an eye out for people in green baseball caps that say either “Legal Observer” or “LO.” They’re there to keep an eye on law enforcement. If you get arrested, try to get your name to one of them. They’ll track you through the system so you don’t get lost.
  2. Do not resist arrest. If the cops haven’t specifically noticed you when they’re doing a sweep kind of thing and you can run away, by all means be my guest. But once a cop has decided to arrest you, resisting either physically or verbally is like arguing with an NBA official. It never changes their minds and can get you in worse trouble.
  3. Be polite to the cops. Call them “sir” and “ma’am.” Do what they tell you. You’re out there because you’ve chosen to exercise your First Amendment rights. They’re out there because the brass told them to be, and the day before we get there, these same cops will have worked the inauguration. They’re not the enemy.

See you in Washington!




  1. Marge says:

    You GO GIRL! Out here in Los Angeles County, it’s surprising how many of your suggestions will work for us as well. Although, while layering and good footwear makes sense, water will be part of the plan here because we could end up with a warm, sunny day. (Hopefully peeing in the bushes won’t be part of the day. But, I’m willing. It’s been done before.) Foiling pick pockets and having the ticket for the return train are especially useful suggestions. I wish I were going to be in D.C. that day. On the other hand, I’ll be a part of making this officially a coast-to-coast demonstration.
    What sign will you be carrying? I’m thinking of a two sided one: “Hey, Twitter Twit: WORDS MATTER” and “KINDNESS + STRENGTH = JUSTICE”

  2. Dana Cameron says:

    This is awesome–thanks so much! And a link to the DC Metro site–they advise buying a card before this Friday (Jan 13) to get it before the Inauguration.

  3. Kaye Barley says:

    Included in the FAQs on the Women’s March webpage is a list of items you can and cannot bring.
    Regarding buying a DC Metro card – the checking out as a guest feature is iffy and down more than not. It’s quick and easy to register on-line to purchase your card ahead of time.

  4. Kaye Barley says:

    oops – here’s the link for the FAQs – NO SIGNS ON STICKS ALLOWED.

  5. Leah canzoneri says:

    Great list…a friend also suggested a Mylar blanket from Target. It’s folded down to a 5 inch square and a disposable rain poncho too

  6. Shirley Garcia says:

    Marching in Santa Ana, CA. Thanks for suggestions.

  7. Justine says:

    As both a veteran of the marches SJ mentioned, as well as a Washingtonian of many years, let me add the following: take a good look at the Metro Map and look for alternate stations, since the most obvious ones may have long lines, even if you have a Metro card. Also, check the Metro web site for a list of stops that may be closed for the March (if any, a number are closed on the 19th, not sure about the 20th). Check the Smithsonian website to see if museums will be open, those are usually the most reliable places to pee. The ones near the march side of the Mall include the Air & Space museum, Hirschhorn, African Art & Sackler Asian Art museums, and the Castle. It’s possible that the Independence Ave entrances will be closed, but the Mall entrances open. Unfortunately, the Independence Ave side of the Mall has very few places to eat that will be open since they mostly cater to office employees who will not be at work. There are usually a number of good food trucks on Maryland Ave off 7th St SW, one l bock off the March route, but, again, I don’t know if they’ll be there on a non-work day. Good Luck! Venceramos!

  8. Justine says:

    Correction–a number of Metro stops are closed on the 20th (Inauguration Day), not sure about the 21st (day of March). Also, I forgot one museum on the March side of the Mall closest to Capital Hill–the Native American Museum, which is supposed to have better food than the usual.

  9. SJ Rozan says:

    Justine — The Native American Museum has terrific food! Don’t know about depending on the museums that day, though. Good advice about checking the Metro closing schedules.

  10. I’ll be there with bells on! Thanks for the tips. I am going to a workshop on being a peace keeper in a protest situation. By the way, I also heard write a lawyer’s name and number on your arm with a marker!

  11. SJ Rozan says:

    Sujata — will look for you! Thanks for the tip.

  12. Jeanne says:

    A wrung out washcloth or hand towel in a plastic bag was the only thing we used to carry in case of tear gas. Didn’t need a lot of the other stuff because technology wasn’t an issue in the 60’s and 70’s… just a thought to share.

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