Riding the Rails

For my most recent weekend jaunt to Charleston, SC I decided to spice things up a bit and take the train. At first glance airfares we’re decent (meaning $200 range), but they also meant 5:45am departures, which with security and everything else just sounded like one giant headache to me. So looking into the train, I was pleasantly surprised that the prices were significantly cheaper than even those early flights (and then I had the added bonus of 10% off with my AAA membership). Putting the final tab around $160.One of the perks of the train too was timing. My train left at 6:17 pm, so I went to work all day Thursday and literally rolled up to the station 15 minutes before the train was set to leave. I was welcomed multiple times by the staff, given my seat assignment and a fresh pillow. Most importantly the leg room was heavenly!
While traveling through the night was easy (especially thanks to my dose of Tylenol PM), I almost wish the trip was longer (as is, it was 11 hours). I was so productive with my laptop (unlike an airplane, there’s an outlet at each seat so you’ll never run out of battery power), I had to force myself to turn it off to get some zzz’s. Also, when you arrive at 5am at your destination and it’s still dark, it means you don’t get to enjoy the views along the way. My return trip was even better, as my train left around 10pm, and my 8am arrival made it even easier to sleep through the night (and feel rested as I went straight in to work yesterday).A few tips for riding the rails

  • Tylenol PM or Melatonin are your friend!
  • Bringing an eye mask (like the ones they give you on overseas flights) is VERY helpful, because while the lights are turned down, they’re also a bit annoying if you’re trying to sleep
  • They give you a complimentary pillow (airline style), but I highly recommend bringing a mini travel pillow / blanket if you have one (I have a great pair my mom gave me from Restoration hardware)
  • Bring a pair of socks – especially if you’re traveling in summer, you may be wearing flip flops, but you’re feet definitely will get cold on the train
  • Laptops are great for the train if you want to watch movies, and there’s an outlet at each seat so you don’t have to worry about using up all your battery power
  • While food on the train isn’t cheap, I’m definitely excited to try out a real meal in the dining car for the true experience
  • Once you get outside of the Northeast Coordinator the train is a very financially viable option

ALL ABOARD!!! Click here to visit Amtrak online.

2 comments

  • Glad to see someone is riding American trains. I hope they make a comeback some day. It’s nice to have legroom and power outlets and be closer to the ground. It’s too bad the fares are still a little high and the routes limited.

    Another nice train ride is between Portland and Seattle.

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