Auto Train Experience
Amtrak’s auto train is the only one in the country. It originates from Lorton, VA or Sanford, FL. The concept is simple, travel from Virginia to Florida with your car but you don’t have to do the driving. There are coach seats and roomette. It’s an overnight trip with dinner and continental breakfast in the morning. You are assigned one of three dinner times based on your arrival time. There were 38 cars on our ride down with 15 of them being for passengers. There were 452 passengers with 181 cars. I didn’t get the numbers on the ride back because I wasn’t paying attention and our kids were too excited in the sleeper car. In total, they can transport up to 300 cars per trip. We choose to ride in the coach car on our way to Florida. The ride was very smooth and seamless. Our car wasn’t full so the kids were able to spread out and it definitely made for a more pleasant experience. The seats recline to a comfortable angle and we had plenty of space for backpacks and snack bags. There is overhead storage as well if needed. Dinner was good both ways and the kids loved the coffee cakes for breakfast. If you are traveling with someone that can not get to the dining car, you can order your food for delivery.
Pros: It was cheaper for our family of four to take the train with our van than flying to Orlando and renting a car. We enjoyed the experience. The kids had a blast and enjoyed the sleeper car much better than the adults. The food was actually not bad. The customer service is great. The staff on board are engaging and information is shared as we pass different locations. This can go either way: you get to bond with your kids. We played board and card games. Yes, they wanted electronics after a while, but you can’t play board games on a plane. There is free WiFi onboard. Keep in mind that it will be spotty because of the cell towers. It’s stronger in the lounge car which is where we spent lots of time. Cons: It takes a long time. The ride is 16 hours. Always overnight from 4 pm to 8 am. Arrival depends on rail traffic. Leave some wiggle room in your schedule to allow for late arrival. We didn’t arrive at Sanford till 9 am. There are no security checkpoints. This was on my mind because of the climate society is in. However, I didn’t let it damper the experience. Overall, this is definitely a way to travel to many Florida attractions and we will do it again. There are other train vacation options available but don’t include taking your vehicle. Is this a mode of transport you can see yourself utilizing? Contact me for more details on booking your next family getaway. Check out my Facebook page for videos and more pictures.