Good morning from the Amtrak train to Kingston, Rhode Island (final destination, Newport). This morning I’m thinking about all the reasons why train travel pretty much trumps any other form of travel, as I use the free wifi, sip my coffee and relax in the comfortable seats as we speed along coastal Connecticut.
I love the fact that trains often drop you off right where you need to be, as opposed to planes which take you to an airport that’s a costly taxi ride away from your destination. I also love the freedom of showing up 10 minutes before your train leaves and not having to deal with lines, baggage check or security. And while the bus can be a more wallet-friendly option, let’s face facts – no one wants to take the bus or sit in traffic.
So if you’re ready to plan your next trip on the train, read below for my 5 tips for an affordable + amazing ride!
1. Book your trip well in advance, even if you aren’t sure you will be going. The Amtrak ticket from NYC to Boston is as low $49 each way – that is, if you book a couple months in advance. The reason why many people don’t do this is because they prefer to plan such a short getaway closer to the time of departure. With Amtrak, have no fear: you can usually get your ticket refunded as long as you cancel at least 24 hours before departure. Book your ticket and lock in a great price now, worry about everything else later.
2. Research more affordable routes and discounts. This morning my train journey to Newport cost me $40 – a steal. But the ticket price from NYC was $85. How did I get my costs down? I found that instead of taking Amtrak the whole way, I could take the Metro North commuter rail from Grand Central to New Haven, Connecticut for $15 and transfer to the Amtrak train there ($25) for $45 less total. I am also an AAA member which saved me an additional $3 (every little bit counts, right?). Lesson learned: don’t just book blindly – see if a bus or local train to a nearby station will save you $$$, or if you are eligible for any savings.
My LeSportsac carry on
3. Bring the following with you: your phone charger/computer charger (yes, there are plugs!) and a sweater. It gets COLD on these trains! If you are traveling overnight or longer, make sure you bring a toothbrush, portable face and body wipes (there’s no shower!), some dry shampoo and a change of clothes. And of course, don’t forget your deodorant on an overnight train – your seat mate will thank me.
4. Look out the window! Don’t glue yourself to a movie or book the whole ride. There’s beautiful scenery on many train rides. You might travel along the coast or through mountains that you won’t want to miss. For some of the coolest train trips in the US, check out this article in National Geographic.
5. Pack healthy snacks and a bottle of water. The temptation to buy something from the snack car can be overwhelming, especially when you are bored on a long trip. But there’s few healthy options and everything is overpriced. I like to pack things that won’t spoil, like bananas, apples, and almonds.