Life / Travel

Metro’s survival guide for the Women's March on Washington

Is this your first political rally? Here's what you need to know.

The election of Donald Trump has awakened a new spirit of activism in the United States, and women are stepping up to lead the way.

JASON REDMOND/AFP/Getty Images

The election of Donald Trump has awakened a new spirit of activism in the United States, and women are stepping up to lead the way.

Tens of thousands of people are heading to the U.S. capital on Jan. 21 for the Women’s March on Washington. Hundreds of cities are holding similar events in solidarity. Many will be attending a political rally for the very first time. We asked the pros what you need to know.

Next week, the United States will be swearing in a president who has called women “dogs” and “fat pigs,” made fun of menstruation and bragged about sexual assault.

The day after Donald Trump’s inauguration, women will be descending on Washington D.C. to express their displeasure. But what do you pack for a march? What’s the etiquette? We asked for tips from Tori Cress, a veteran indigenous political organizer in the Idle No More movement, and Marissa McTasney, who is organizing bus trips to D.C. from Canada. Here’s their best advice, in a handy format you can stick on the back of a sign. 

Packing and prepping

Andres Plana/Metro

Dress for the weather

In January, Washington D.C. is usually between -2 and 6 C and damp, so you’ll need warm layers and winter boots you can walk in. Check the forecast to see if you need an umbrella, Cress said. McTasney recommends disposable hand warmers.

Have a smooth border crossing

Whether you’re travelling by land or air, find out what you’re allowed to take to the U.S. Have all your medications, passport, and travel documents in a safe and accessible place, like a zippered bag in your carry-on. You don’t want to hold up your whole bus at the border, McTasney said.

Be comfy on the journey

The drive to D.C. could be 10 hours or more, depending on where you’re coming from. So pack slippers, a blanket, a neck pillow and something to read, McTasney said.

Stock up on snacks and a water bottle

Choose things with protein to keep your energy up. Cress suggests granola bars, nuts, and jerky.

Dos and Don'ts of demonstrating

Tori Cress

Torstar news service

Tori Cress

Tori Cress is a seasoned pro at political action. If you are attending a march next Saturday, here’s her best advice:

Keep up to date

Any last-minute changes are usually posted on whatever website or social media service the group is using to get organized, so check it often.

Stay out of trouble

Be aware of hangers-on around the sides of a march route, saying hateful things and trying to provoke a reaction and get you off-message. “Don’t engage,” Cress said.

Respectfully coexist

There are going to be large gatherings with many different groups with various agendas. “I usually just stick with my own crowd,” Cress said. “We do all have our own issues, and they’re all important. You don’t want to try to make your issue more important.  It’s all white supremacy and patriarchy that we’re fighting. It affects us in different ways.”

Follow the leader

Stick to the route that’s been planned, and if there’s a designated person in your group who communicates with the local authorities or police, leave them to do it. “Trying to take the lead and step over organizers is a common mistake that new people make,” Cress said.