By Lisa K. Berton
There's a unique rhythm that only comes from riding a train. It may feel like a heartbeat or reverberate like a drummer keeping time. It has an air of romance and in contrast, a bit of old western movie nostalgia.
Riding the rails is stress-free when compared to driving long distances. Avoiding traffic and potholes are certainly pluses. No one needs to frantically search for public restrooms because they're always within a few feet.
Whether you take Amtrak's Pacific Surfliner from San Luis Obispo to San Diego or the Northeast Regional from Boston to Virginia Beach (both lines have many stops in between), it seems like train travel is a fantastic option. Here are some tips to make your experience even better.
- Bring food and beverages. Passengers are permitted to bring snacks, drinks, and meals on board. The Café Car sells snacks, alcoholic drinks, and sandwiches. Make your entourage happy.
- Put your luggage away. Larger and heavier suitcases fit nicely into storage near the ends of each car. Small bags go in the overhead compartment. Keep bags out of areas marked for wheelchairs.
- Stretch your legs. Because it is so easy to sit for hours at a time, make a point of getting up every 45 to 60 minutes and walk through a few train cars. Your legs and gluteus maximus will thank you.
- Lock the restroom door. Pull the door shut and slide the knob. The door is locked when the orange light glows. We all thank you.
- Let them carry your bags. Red Cap service is available free of charge at select train stations. Rather than standing in a long line, get on your train before everyone else. Amtrak staffers will take your bags down for you. Don't forget to tip $2-5 per person in your party.
- Stay busy. Being occupied consequently makes time feel like it has sped up. Take knitting, a book, crossword puzzles, quiet toys, and headphones for your electronic devices. Look out the window and relax.
This article is neither sponsored nor endorsed by Amtrak. It is based on personal experiences.