Return Trip of Amtrak Auto-Train: ‘Really Not That Bad’


Following their trip to the Irish Catskills and big brother TJ’s house for the christening of Little Miss C, sister Kate and clan hopped back on the Amtrak auto-train for the long schlep from lovely Lorton, Virginia to outside Orlando, Florida.

Kate and hubbie Brian gave the auto-train mostly high marks on their trip north–fairly comfy seats, decent food, and a sincere effort by the Amtrak staff to make the ride pleasant for all.

The return trip, hauling 140 cars, 50 vans, a motorcycle, and their respective owners, proved to be more of the same. In fact it was an overall better ride, thanks to some pointers the Kates picked up on their first trip, such as hoarding as many free snacks as possible before the train even departs.

Brian also proved to be a pioneer in the field of train interior design, creating a privacy screen with an Amtrak blanket, a strategically placed hotel key card wedged into the ceiling, and a spent piece of MacGyver’s bubble gum. Apparently other riders were asking Brian to erect a similar screen around their seats too.

Kate said after the first leg that your fellow riders will make or break your trip. This time around, the girls had three young Disney-bound playmates to frolic with right up until sleepytime, which needless to say made for a much more pleasant ride for mom and dad.

Brian gave the veggie lasagna the thumbs-down on the northbound, and went with the Choo Choo Chewies chicken fingers that his daughters were so raving about. Alas, the dyspepsia was every bit as intense. Surely an overnight stank wafting through the car that Kate called “tuna mixed with sauerkraut” did not help matters.

On the bright side, the Amtrak pulled into Sanford, FL a full hour earlier than expected. Even after waiting 40 minutes to be reunited with their minivan, the Kates were still on the road before they were even supposed to pull into the station.

The final verdict? “It’s really not that bad,” says Kate. “We’ll probably do it every summer.”


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3 Responses to Return Trip of Amtrak Auto-Train: ‘Really Not That Bad’

  1. Matt Masi says:

    Have you tried the upgrade to first class, it makes the train ride feel alot different. My wife and I, with are two children (10 and 12 at the time) upgraded from lower level coach to first class on the way home from Sanford, and it was a world of diffrence.

  2. Jim says:

    Amtrak in general isn’t that bad. It is what it is, Union employees working like… well union employees. They work long days, (12 hour days) and you don’t have the same crew your entire trip, so do’nt get too used to the same person all day. BUT… remember this, these people make regular wages, nothing huge, and they are like you and me, only when they go to work they leave the state and come back tomarrow.

  3. Nelson says:

    I think Amtrak holds great promise for the United States and our long neglected rail system.

    I’m glad you told us about your favorable experience and I think with some concerted effort, perhaps “stimulus” it could be made even more efficient and positive.

    Me personally, I look forward to riding an Amtrak bullet train or even Mag Lev, if we ever get there.

    And @ Jim, yes good solid union jobs are what we need, with some more care and attention our rail system could provide many more.

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