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Top Ten Things ~ Train Travel July 27, 2012

Posted by nrhatch in Food & Drink, Travel & Leisure.

This month, I traveled round-trip to New Jersey via the Auto Train  which  clickety~clackety~clacks, forth and back, on tracks from Sanford Florida  (northeast of Orlando) to Lorton VA (south of Washington DC).

The Top Ten Things I/we enjoyed about Train Travel:

1.  At the train station, we left everything packed in the car . . . except for a small overnight bag with pj’s, snacks, and toothbrush.

2.  No one asked us to take off our shoes, disrobe, endure a patdown, or pass through an onerous metal detector at a TSA checkpoint before boarding.

3. Amtrak offered wheelchair assistance for mom (who is recovering from spine surgery). The person who helped her out of the car came and found her when we needed to board the train.

4.  We enjoyed a free wine and cheese reception as soon as we boarded the train and stowed our belongings in the sleeper car.

5.  While nibbling on fruit, nuts, veggies, and cheese, we enjoyed panoramic views of sleepy towns in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia through expansive picture windows . . . with no tractor trailers to mar the scenery.

6.  We avoided 900 miles of tedious interstate driving on the I-95 corridor while still being able to use my packed-to-the-rafters Honda to transport mom’s clothes, meds, toiletries, etc., from NJ to FL.

7.  Friendly stewards served us dinner (salad, rolls, entrée, dessert, wine) at  a spacious table in a dedicated dining car . . . rather than passing us a tray of insipid airline food to eat while strapped/trapped in an assigned seat.   Mom had grilled salmon with lobster sauce.  I chose four cheese spinach  lasagna.

8.  Delicious desserts!  We both ordered the Raspberry Lemon Cheesecake ~  best tasting dessert I’ve had anywhere this year.  Sadly, we were too full from dinner (and the wine and cheese reception) to finish it.

9.  During dinner and in the lounge car, we met passengers of all ages from all walks of life ~ including an active duty Coast Guard officer relocating to Cape Cod Massachusetts from Florida, a veteran of the Korean War, and lots of excited children thrilled to be traveling to/from Disney World via train.

10.  Instead of being cramped in a crowded car, legs crossed between ill-timed Rest Stops, we remained free to move about cabin . . . with food, beverages, and bathrooms (!) available at all times.

Aah . . . that’s better!

Related post:  Trains, Planes, and Automobiles (WP Daily Prompt)


1. Piglet in Portugal - July 27, 2012

This sounds a far better form of transport! I hate the affect the air pressure has on my ears and it Squishes my digestive system.
Your Mum has a lovely happy face. I hope she enjoys her stay…perhaps she can start her own blog?

nrhatch - July 27, 2012

Thanks, PiP. Maybe I’ll let her do a guest post now and then . . . while she’s busy writing her autobiography. 😉

2. Judson - July 27, 2012

Sounds wonderful. Curious … What are the economics compared to flying and renting a car once you get there?

nrhatch - July 27, 2012

Not bad if you’re traveling close to either terminus.

I paid $267 for a coach seat, meals, and car transport on the way north. We paid $663 for a sleeper car (with private bath), meals, and car transport on the way south.

3. sufilight - July 27, 2012

Lovely seeing your Mom. :)Sound like a much, much better traveling experience! I wonder if business has increased for Amtrak since the airlines are getting more and more unpopular. How long did the trip take from Florida to New Jersey?

nrhatch - July 27, 2012

Thanks, Marie. The trip takes 18 hours, plus loading and unloading time.

Both directions are the same ~ boarding at 2:30 pm for a 4 pm departure . . . arrival at 9:30 am the following morning. It does take an hour +/- for all the cars to be unloaded.

Both times, I arrived at the train station about 12:30 pm one day and left the other station about 11 am the following morning.

Barefoot Baroness - July 27, 2012

Great photos that tell the story alone. What a great scrapbooking project they would make. Ilove to travel by train. How absolutely wonderful to learn that Amtrek is so disabled friendly. We’ve been thinking about a long extended trip, sleeping on the rails I love.

Thanks so much for sharing BB

nrhatch - July 27, 2012

Our sleeper car, like most, was on the upper level . . . but Amtrak does have a few accessible bedrooms on the lower level at a reduced fare.

4. Sandra Bell Kirchman - July 27, 2012

I once traveled across Canada by train and absolutely loved the experience. What a beautiful panorama of scenery from coast to coast!

Your mom looks like a fun person and quite capable of producing…you! 😛

nrhatch - July 27, 2012

Traveling across Canada must invove spectacular vistas! Mom’s sense of humor seems to be coming back . . . I think that’s because mine is contagious. 😉

5. Richard W Scott - July 27, 2012

Ah, yes. The train! We went to Minnesota and back (Northern California), and loved it (pretty much) the whole way.

nrhatch - July 27, 2012

I cannot claim to have slept well in either direction . . . but I don’t always sleep well even in my own super comfy bed. So no real complaints there.

6. bluebee - July 27, 2012

It is a wonderful way to travel. I did a trip with my Mum years ago from Johannesburg to Cape Town and we had a lovely time. Would love to take her on a train trip across Europe or Canada. Hope things are settling down for you all.

nrhatch - July 27, 2012

Sounds like a lovely trip across South Africa, BB. A train adventure through Europe or Canada sounds grand.

Things are smoothing out a bit . . . fewer and fewer rough edges and snags to get hung up on.

7. Irene - July 27, 2012

Nice! I’m going to keep this in mind if I ever have to travel south!

nrhatch - July 27, 2012

Definitely an interesting way to travel between DC and Florida, Irene.

8. Jas - July 28, 2012

This sounds much better. Seems like a very nice trip.

nrhatch - July 28, 2012

Much better than cruising along I-95 watching drivers “misbehaving.” 😉

9. jannatwrites - July 28, 2012

Sounds like a nice ride, and yes, much better than being cramped in a Honda 🙂

nrhatch - July 28, 2012

It’s lovely to be able to stand up and stretch your legs . . . while traveling at 70 mph. 😎

10. Tammy - July 28, 2012

It really is a great way to travel!

nrhatch - July 28, 2012

I would do it again anytime I needed my car at the other end. Probably not worth it for a weekend getaway . . . but it definitely made sense for a 3-week sojourn.

11. wightrabbit - July 28, 2012

You’ve described a very pleasant trip, Nancy, I feel as though I’ve taken a relaxing journey with you! I’m impressed by the customer care you experienced ~ we don’t get that on British trains, which tend to be expensive, cramped, and impersonal, either too hot or freezing cold! Thank you for the interesting comparisons and the lovely photos of your Mom! 🙂

nrhatch - July 28, 2012

The temperature on the train was perfect . . . not too hot and not to cold. Just right!

12. granny1947 - July 28, 2012

That sound so great Nancy. Don’t think we have anything like that here…not where you can take your car with you…we do have the Blue Train but it is very expensive.

nrhatch - July 28, 2012

The Auto Train between FL and DC is the only auto train in the U.S. ~ for other destinations, passengers and their vehicles must travel separately.

13. Don - July 28, 2012

What a way to travel! Sounds wonderful.

nrhatch - July 28, 2012

It suited my plans to a T (for Train?).

14. Crowing Crone Joss - July 28, 2012

there’s something very relaxing about travelling by train, and the good meals and service sure do beat what you get on an airplane!

nrhatch - July 28, 2012

It’s been ages since I’ve flown . . . and even longer since I’ve had a memorable meal on a plane. 😀

15. pattyabr - July 28, 2012

Intrigued by this auto train. Never knew of it’s existence until your post.

nrhatch - July 28, 2012

Lots of “snowbirds” use it each year when they fly south for the winter and want their autos with them. The longer you stay, the better the value of transporting a car with you.

16. Team Oyeniyi - July 28, 2012

I love train travel! It is something I will have to do with my family, but first we need to take the ferry (and car) down to Tasmania to visit my sister. She and her family still have not met my husband and the children! :((

I have travelled to Adelaide on our train several times and I love it!

nrhatch - July 28, 2012

Hope that you and the wee bairns get to meet your sister soon. I prefer trains to planes . . . but I like boats best of all. 😎

17. johnell74 - July 28, 2012

An amazing piece of service in this day and age, Nancy.
We couldn’t do that trip n the UK. No two places are that far apart!!
Thank you

nrhatch - July 28, 2012

Aah . . . but you have so much to see within your smaller circumferance. 😀

18. Pocket Perspectives - July 28, 2012

What a practical alternative to flying….and so much less stressful than driving!

nrhatch - July 28, 2012

I agree . . . absolutely perfect for my needs this month.

19. cuhome - July 28, 2012

Loved our Amtrak trip in a sleeper car — romantic, too!

nrhatch - July 29, 2012

Hmm . . . perhaps if I had been with BFF, we would have enjoyed the romantic nature of travel by rails.

20. Maggie - July 29, 2012

The next time I go somewhere, I think I want to take the train!

nrhatch - July 29, 2012

Plan a short get-away from Point A to Point B. Relax. Enjoy the chug chug on the choo choo.

21. Rufus' Food and Spirits Guide - July 29, 2012

Looks like a pretty nice way to travel.

nrhatch - January 10, 2013


22. Booksphotographsandartwork - July 30, 2012

So interesting. I haven’t travelled by train since I was three and can’t remember it! My dad says that I was perfectly good on the trip and seemed to have fun.

You and your mom have been through so much. It’s good to see her smiling.

nrhatch - July 31, 2012

Thanks, Linda. Maybe you should plan a journey by train with your grandson?

23. Perfecting Motherhood - July 31, 2012

That sounds like a fun trip, considering the circumstances. My kids and I once watched a documentary (for kids) on traveling in a sleeper car from Toronto to Vancouver I think. What a great trip!

nrhatch - July 31, 2012

I wonder if CA offers a train ride up the coastline? That would be beautiful.

Perfecting Motherhood - July 31, 2012

It does but I don’t think there are sleepers. That would be a long train ride, especially when it took us almost 4 hours to get to Disneyland from San Diego when it’s supposed to take about 2 hours. And not a single explanation or apology from Amtrack. Who said only airline companies were bad?

nrhatch - July 31, 2012

I expect that the track record for the Auto Train is better because it’s the same route every day . . . only one departure a day . . . and only one stop in each direction.

24. judithhb - August 1, 2012

i have always loved train travel and have been on some famous ones around the world. Much better than travelling by air.

nrhatch - August 1, 2012

Especially these days with all the TSA and baggage restrictions on how much shampoo and conditioner you can pack. 😉

25. Tokeloshe - August 1, 2012

Great post!

I wouldn’t mind if I could travel to South-Africa by train.

nrhatch - August 1, 2012

Taking a high speed train across the Atlantic and Pacific? Coming right up. Choo choo.

26. Val - August 11, 2012

Your mom looks happy! 🙂

nrhatch - August 11, 2012

She had FUN on the train . . . some of the time, anyway. Finding suitable pastimes for her has been a challenge since she doesn’t hear, see, comprehend, remember, or walk well.

She does like EATING . . . especially ice cream. 😉

27. CMSmith - August 14, 2012

Sold! Where do I get my ticket?

nrhatch - August 14, 2012

If you’re ever traveling between DC and FL, give Amtrak Auto Train a google. Definitely beats 900 miles of driving on I-95. 😀

28. aawwa - January 13, 2013

It looks like it was a great journey! Thanks for letting me know about it 🙂

nrhatch - January 13, 2013

Hope you get to traverse Australia via train . . . sounds like a FUN way to see the continent.

29. mithriluna - June 26, 2013

Wonderful post! This is my dream to travel via Amtrak with my husband someday. I’m glad you had a wonderful experience!

nrhatch - June 26, 2013

I hope you have a chance to ride the rails with your husband. It is far more relaxing than driving . . . and better scenery than flying at 500 mph.

30. Joanne Sisco - May 12, 2018

There is something so special about travel by train. There is a sense of adventure – perhaps a romantic throwback to earlier times.
However, I don’t understand point 6. I guess I don’t have the context of what this journey was for. I got the impression that you brought the car with you on the train! That can’t be right … is it?

nrhatch - May 12, 2018

Yes. This is an auto train ~ your auto, left packed, is loaded onto the train in a special “car car” and you get it back at the other end so you can continue your journey.

Joanne Sisco - May 12, 2018

I have never heard of such a train! That is so cool!

nrhatch - May 12, 2018

I loved it ~ such a relaxing way to travel.

31. joyroses13 - June 11, 2019

This made me even more excited, thanks so much for sharing this post! It made me hungry too! Awesome that they have great food! I bet they have great coffee too! LOL! 🙂

nrhatch - June 11, 2019

Glad that your excitement is now at “maximum velocity.” Enjoy every minute!

joyroses13 - June 11, 2019

It is, are the beds comfy? 🙂 Now if only the suitcases would pack themselves, LOL!

nrhatch - June 12, 2019

I didn’t sleep well in either direction . . . but I don’t always sleep well even in my own super comfy bed. So no real complaints.

On the way there I dozed off & on in a reclining seat. On the return trip, I gave my mom the bottom bunk, climbed up to the top bunk and decided it felt a bit claustrophobic. Then she decided that she couldn’t sleep lying down (due to back pain) so I had the porter come back and turn the bed into a sofa again. Not a great night sleep. I expect you’ll do better.

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