Before planes were a viable and cheap enough option, a lot of people chose to travel by train. While the concept is not super popular in the United States it should be considered as an option. Traveling on Amtrak can take a little longer than by car but it makes direct stops between cities, and like flying there’s nothing much for you take on past boarding besides relaxing for the trip. Here are some things to know about traveling on Amtrak.
Plan With Plenty of Time
Booking Amtrak tickets a month before a trip can actually save you up to 50 percent on ticket prices compared to within two weeks of a date, and that’s quite a deal especially when you’re traveling with the family. Sleeper cars can also book up, so you want as much notice as possible to guarantee you get what you need.
Always Look For Discounts
In addition to booking in advance, you might be able to save money on your journey by looking for current discounts. Examples of these might be special offers right on the Amtrak website. It’s worth keeping an eye on, especially if you’re a little flexible with departure times. There are also great discounts available at all times for students, veterans, seniors, children, etc.
Joining the rewards program can also be a great way to save. You can earn points for Amtrak rides as well as hotel stays, which is certainly worth it if you ride the train a few times each year.
Consider Traveling in a Station Lounge
There are ways to upgrade your travel experience on Amtrak, which can be done by purchasing a ticket to one of the Station Lounges. It won’t be as nice as flying first class for example, but some of the upgrades provide access to things like wi-fi, wine tastings, different food options, etc. There are also quiet cars on some trains if you don’t like the potential of being seating next to a chatty seatmate for the duration of your ride.
Plan For the Length of Your Ride
If you’re going to be taking a long train ride you want to be prepared with food and activities. They do provide food on the train but the options are limited and you might be better off packing your own snacks for at least part of time. Also consider that you might get cold and could use some layers, and that without wifi games, books, music, and magazines are great options for passing the time.
Use the Baggage Handling Service
There is a baggage handling service available to all Amtrak riders if you need some help getting your luggage onto the train. (And off.) It’s called the Red Cap service and it’s free, you just need to find someone to show your ticket and they will escort you onto the train and stash your bags for you. The service is free but tips are encouraged.