summer a few months away, there is still time to plan that perfect
family vacation. Maybe you already know where you want to go. Perhaps
you have been dreaming about a particular vacation spot for some
time, or the kids have their hearts set on that special theme park.
Wherever you head this summer keep in mind that how you travel is
just as important as where you travel!
everyone has a story about rushing to the airport, rushing to the
hotel, running ragged for a week, rushing back to the airport, flying
for hours to get home again, only to rush to work the next day feeling
exhausted. No matter how much fun you had on the trip you can't
help but wonder if maybe you would have been better off just staying
home and taking a week long nap. Or worse yet, you pile everyone
into the family SUV and drive thousands of miles to Grandma's
house. The number of times you hear "are we there yet?"
is second only to the number of times you hear, "I have to
go to the bathroom."
year, why not try something different? Instead of flying or driving
the family car, consider taking an Amtrak train. Traveling by Amtrak
has its special benefits and by planning right you can add extra
elements of fun to an already exciting trip. Some of the best reasons
to ride the Amtrak include the chance to see scenery you might otherwise
miss, the opportunity to catch up on your sleep before you arrive
at your final destination, affordable pricing, freedom to get up
and walk around without delaying your trip, continuous access to
restrooms (a real plus when traveling with children), and a variety
of traveling accommodations. Depending on the rail carrier, you
can ride coach, sit in club cars, visit dining cars, or spend the
night sleeping in a comfortable sleeper car.
the United States, Amtrak provides inter-city rail travel throughout
the country. Short specialty rail lines will take you places like
the Grand Canyon in Arizona or the Pacific Northwest. Within the
larger metropolitan areas, light rails and commuter lines can open
up neighborhoods you've never visited or provide alternatives
to driving to crowded areas, even in your own hometown. Whether
riding across the country or across town, taking thetrain adds a
unique twist to summer trips.
tips to remember:
Plan plenty of extra time to get where you are going. Part of the
reason rail travel is so relaxing is because it takes a while to
get there. Planning your connections too close or arriving on the
day of a special event instead of a day early can add extra stress
to any trip.
2. Bring lots of reading material. Books, magazines, crossword
puzzles will keep your mind occupied while your body rests.
3. Check the availability of food for purchase on your rail
line. Almost all Amtrak rail lines and most of the smaller ones
have a dining car offering restaurant quality cuisine. Club cars
offer the convenience of pre-packaged food you can heat in the microwave.
Pricing varies between rail carriers however dining cars are typically
more expensive than club cars. Amtrak allows you to bring food on
board so if you are more comfortable bringing your own picnic, enjoy.
4. Expect and appreciate delays. Several areas of the country
are developed with what the industry calls "single track".
This means there is only one set of track between two points. Freight
traffic is what keeps the economic engine of this country moving,
and as such, freight takes precedence over passenger traffic. If
you find yourself sitting still on the tracks it may because you
are making way for a freight train further up the line. Enjoy the
extra time you have to read, play card games, or take that nap you
have been craving.
5. Wear comfortable clothing. While the coach seats recline,
it is always best to dress loosely and bring toiletry items in your
carry-on bag if you plan on riding the Amtrak over night.
6. Check your baggage. For security, check your larger bags
into the baggage car and keep only your tote or carry-on with you.
You'll be able to bring more with you and ensure it arrives
safely at the same time.
7. For trips longer than one day get a sleeper car. While
more expensive than coach, sleeper cars provide you with access
to a shower, turn-down service on the bed, your own private room
with window seating, and with Amtrak three meals per day in their
delicious dining car are included.
8. Bring toys and games for children. The club cars have
tables and long bench seating that are perfect for card or board
games. It is a perfect way to lounge away the hours.
a few extra moments to plan an Amtrak train trip can mean the difference
between that so-so vacation and the one your family talks about
for years. While the final destination is always fun, getting there
on the Amtrak will make it fantastic.
Related tags:Do it Yourself, amtrak travel tips