If you’re anything like us, then you’re understandably very, very excited for the Women’s March on Washington D.C. on Saturday, January 21st.
Originating as a Facebook page from concerned women and eventually becoming much, much more — the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Planned Parenthood, and the NAACP are official partners, just to name a few — the Women’s March on Washington (as well as its global grassroots sister marches) is ready to show the world that “women’s rights are human rights,” with the official website’s principals standing for everything from dismantling the criminal justice system to affordable abortion and birth control to equal rights for the LGBTQIA community.
And while HelloGiggles has already given you six things you need to know about the March itself, as the big day grows nearer, we’re being inundated with emails and text alerts about safety and security concerns, D.C.-area closures, and general, additional ~ things to know ~ before we go.
So on that note, here are 11 last-minute steps you should totally take before you leave for D.C.
1 Make sure to sign up.
If you plan on heading to Washington, make sure you fill out this form in advance. You don’t need to have a ticket with you, but letting the March know you’ll be there helps ensure they’ll have the proper services — like, you know, porta-potties — available for the right number of people.
2 Carry toilet paper. Yes, seriously.
As we noted before, you’ll be very limited in terms of how much you can and should carry to the March — backpacks aren’t allowed unless they are clear, and they cannot be larger than 17″x12″x6″ (if you don’t already have one, we recommend this tote bag, available on Amazon for $8.89).
In said bag, though, be sure to come prepped with some TP and hand sanitizer — because porta-potties will be available along the March route, but for obvious reasons, you probably shouldn’t count on them to have everything you’ll need in an emergency.
3 Make sure you have PLENTY of fuel for the day.
Though of course D.C. has plenty of restaurants, keep in mind that literally hundreds of thousands of people are projected to attend these events, meaning at some point, you and 200k-ish people are going to get hungry at the same time in the same location. So in case the Subway has a line around the corner or the McDonalds runs out of Snack Wraps, be sure to bring light, transportable, and preferably healthy snacks like fruit and granola bars to whip out in case of an emergency, or a sugar crash.
4 Dress for the low, not the high.
This probably goes without saying, but be sure to pack for the day’s low when you’re getting ready, not its high. If you step outside in the morning and you’re even a little bit chilly, add more layers.
We plan on wearing sturdy running shoes (boots are also fine) due to the physical demands of the march, then several layers of moisture-wicking clothing under our winter coats — because even though a high of 61 in D.C. sounds pretty amazing right now, standing outside for hours will affect how that actually feels. And if you sweat a lot from walking in close proximity to thousands of others and your clothes get wet as a result … well, let’s just say don’t let that happen.
If you look like you’re about to head out for a run in Iceland or an alpine day hike in Switzerland when you leave your house in the morning, then you probably did a pretty solid job.
5 Your phone might not work, but you should bring a portable charger (or two!) anyway.
Hundreds of thousands of people making calls, sending texts, and probably trying their darnedest to Snapchat all in one location will likely mean disastrous things for cell service. Still, you should definitely pack a portable charger for peace of mind, and to have your phone fully juiced in case you get separated from your tribe and need to find a meeting spot.
6 And on that note, make sure to pre-plan meetup locations in case you get separated from your group.
All of the above being said, with cell phone service sure to be a mess, meet with your group beforehand — especially if you’re coming from out of town, and relying on someone else for transport — to coordinate meeting points along the route. All Metro stations in Virginia, D.C., and Maryland have banned buses dropping off passengers on the day of the March, which means your group leader (if you’re going with a bus, at least) has likely already come up with an alternate plan to get you near the city.
So before you leave, know where and when you’ll be dropped off, where and when you’ll be picked up again at the end of the day, and where you should wait if you get separated from your group. It’s more work now, but it’ll save you a major panic attack in the long run.
7 Know your talking points.
Marching for Planned Parenthood? Research the organization first, so you’re up-to-date on the latest updates in women’s health. Heading down with Moms Demand Action (raises hand), Black Lives Matter, or the NAACP? Same, because knowing exactly what you’re marching for will make you a much better ally for your movement.
8 … But be careful who you speak to.
Moms Demand marchers were recently sent a warning that James O’Keefe, a conservative activist who records undercover audio and video encounters with progressive activists and political figures, then edits them to make it appear as if his subject has said something they did not, is planning to attend the D.C. March to cause harm to organizations like Planned Parenthood, with him and his followers using a shell organization called “Breakthrough Development Group” to approach protestors for interviews.
This hasn’t been confirmed by O’Keefe or any of his lackeys, but it’s a given that many counter-protesters will attend the March, and some of them might even try to use O’Keefe’s approach … so use extreme caution if you choose to be interviewed on camera, and if someone tells you that they are a journalist, make sure they can give you valid press credentials.
9 Order a metro card in advance.
If you are taking the D.C. Metro, if at all possible, purchase a preloaded SmartTrip card in advance. They can ship them straight to your home, or if you happen to miss the deadline, you can have a D.C.-area friend purchase one for you, to avoid waiting in the massive lines that disappointed travelers at the last couple of inaugurations.
10 Make sure your signs are legit.
We already told you not to put your sign on a wooden signpost, because security will confiscate literally anything and everything they can that looks remotely like a weapon.
However, also be sure to make your signs out of foam core, not poster board — foam core is more durable, and will stand on its own.
11 Know your rights.
This one is important. Organizers are expecting a peaceful march, and have been coordinating with local and federal authorities to ensure that this is the case. They’re also setting up a legal hotline for marchers who are detained or arrested, as well as for concerned family members inquiring on behalf of someone arrested — but in case you’re one of the (hopefully) unlucky few who ends up on the law’s bad side, study up on your rights in advance.