Family Travel, General Travel, Transportation, US Destinations

Traveling via Amtrak Train

Once deemed it an out of date way to travel, the train is becoming a more desired form of transportation to flying or driving. I can’t think of one person who enjoys the idea of going through TSA Security at the airport, can you?
Our family first experienced train travel when we relocated to Germany for a tour of duty with the US Air Force. We took the train all over Europe.

With clients taking the Amtrak train for their upcoming vacation I wanted to share an overview of my experience from Williamsburg VA to Washington D.C. The Amtrak station in our small town also doubles as the bus station.

For our small station passengers can wait inside the building where there are wooden benches, decent restrooms, and vending machines available with snacks and beverages.

Once the train is announced then passengers need to get to the platform as the train is not like an airplane. You may hold a ticket but if you aren’t there when the train arrives then you will miss your opportunity to board.
I was quite surprised to see how many people took the train.

You will board the train car by class of ticket – first class or second class. Once on board you will put your luggage in the holding space at the front of each car.

There is a quiet car and a reading car – which they take seriously, be quiet in the quiet car or you will be asked to relocate.

The seats are comfortable, larger than a motor coach and similar to an airplane with much more leg room. There is a place to plug in your electronic devices and a seat back pocket in front of you.

Complimentary WiFi is available on board the train for your entertainment. There is also overhead space to store your smaller luggage type items such as a back pack, computer bag, or carry-on bag.

A train conductor will come through the cars checking your ticket and making sure you are on the right train with a valid ticket. This happens after the train has left the station. If you’re on the wrong train then you will have to make a change at the next station, which could be a while.

Now it’s time to sit back and relax for the journey. It’s not a faster mode of transportation but it’s a much more relaxing one. In this case it beats driving in traffic and having to navigate the roads to a destination. Another plus side is you get to see the countryside that you normally wouldn’t see if driving to your destination.

Sometimes the train will slow down or stop to allow another train to pass or because there is a train in front of your train going slower. A bit of a train traffic jam, but no worries because you aren’t the one driving.

Unlike air travel, you can get up and walk around the train to the other cars. You’ll discover the beverage car to purchase snacks and drinks, or if your train is for longer journeys then try the dining car with meals for purchase. Restrooms are at the end of each train car (including accessible restrooms).

Train stations are similar to airports with the proper facilities for travelers. This is Union Station in Washington D.C. When you are waiting on your train to depart there is a waiting area for you, just like at an airport.

Sounds good but what about luggage? I recommend you review Amtrak’s policy on baggage on their website. Amtrak Website

Lastly, we as travel professionals can create an entire itinerary via rail. Amtrak Vacations, and others such as Rail Europe, Railbookers, Grand Canyon Railway, and Rocky Mountaineer work closely with travel partners to provide you with an enjoyable vacation experience. All are great options for traveling by rail.

Did you find information helpful? Are you interested in experiencing an Amtrak Rail Vacations for yourself? Then consider booking your next vacation with us at Sail & Sand Travel. We are here to assist you with expert advice and personalized service.

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