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Riding the Rails

By Mark A. Lavery
Provided by WorldNow

Outside of the Northeast, train travel may not be an option. If you can travel the rails though, it can be the most efficient way to get from A to B around the holidays. Some things to remember:

  • You’re going away for the week. You’re not moving. My experience with Amtrak is that some folks send out change of address cards for the 3 hour train trip.  Just because you are allowed to take many more things on the train than you can on a plane doesn’t mean you have to. Trains are still quite crowded during the holiday season. Porters will be busier, so the likelihood of someone helping you transport your three footlockers through the station is lessened. In short, you should travel as light as possible for your own comfort as well as the other passengers on the train.
  • Get a reserved seat. If you’re not familiar with train travel you may not be aware that there are unreserved trains. Amtrak may oversell unreserved trains. If they do, you could stand from Baltimore to Boston. No matter who you’re going to see, are they worth that ordeal? Make sure your ticket is reserved.
  • Bring snacks. Just like the car or the plane, you should have some basic things to keep you hydrated and to keep the wolf away from the door. Yes, there is a dining car on most trains. No, I would not recommend it. Yes, it’s still expensive. No, that doesn’t make sense.
  • Like everything else, trains can and do run late. Some rail stations do not have indoor waiting areas. Be prepared to wait for your train and if the station is outdoors, make sure you’re dressed to deal with that.
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