do not underestimate the need to NOT be tired when starting the tournament. Do not drive up morning of. Go up the day before.. and enjoy one of the local events or go out to Ed's place and play his amazing arcade collection (coin op hof). Last year, we got to hotel, check'd in.. did the badge pickup when they offered it.. and then headed out to Ed's. But we also left early Wednesday so we could avoid traffic, be relaxed, and have time to do things on Wednesday up there. Heading up after work on Wednesday kind of nukes all that.
Park your car for the week.. and leave it. The bus/train station is right there for downtown hotel people and is the cheapest way to park in downtown. Uber or walk everywhere else. There is plenty within walking distance for food during breaks, dinner, partying, etc.
Plan to go home Sunday... morning or later will just depend on your energy level.. but stay the last night. Then you get some replay time and not stress about stuff.
Plan whatever you need to stay comfortable in a loud environment and on your feet. The noise level is grinding as is standing around a lot. Shoes, shoes, shoes. I bring headphones to help fight back the overall noise level.
Make sure your smartphone or tablet is full of power and consider bringing a battery pack. You will be on your phone all the time checking the website for groupings, etc.
Pinburg is far more about FUN... its a cool format because you meet so many people and you get 'guaranteed' play until the cutoff.
If you haven't booked a hotel yet, do it asap. I haven't heard anything about the availability within the blocks in a long time.. but downtown is not cheap, but the group rates were really good.
Commuting in from outside the city is perfectly feasible for just tournament play.. but would probably suck after hanging out all late. We really didn't go back to the hotel room much during last year's event.. but it is nice to have as an option.
Consider rooming up with someone. See if any of your friends are going. Once you start socializing with other players in the area, room sharing is far easier and drastically reduces your costs.
Be warned... ReplayFx is not a cheap trip. This is not like going to Allentown or York. Between lodging, travel, entry, food, partying, etc.. It's a mini-vacation kind of expense. But it is worth it. I skip PAPA now and doubledown on Replay.
Don't skip the seminars... last year some of them were really good (and its easy to forget/skip). Eugene Jarvis was hysterical and so approachable. The farsight talk was enlightening.
There are several driving paths to get there from the DC area including ones that bypass the tolls... I'm still lazy and just take the turnpike. The tolls aren't that bad.
If you want any more specifics.. feel free to PM me as well. The larger collective of FSPA/DMV people have been going to PAPA since Kevin restarted it and we have lots of people and trips up there. If you are the drinking type.. we do lots of that too