A Ticket to Ride

A Ticket to Ride

When my sister in law mentioned we take a day trip by train travel, my eyes immediately lit up with stars. I mean I know I am not the only one who is imaging the Amtrak as Hogwarts Express, right? I am convinced it is a pretty common fantasy. Ok, so it is not exactly like Harry Potter’s train world of witches, wizards and magical creatures but I do think that the Amtrak train does have a certain kind of magic – a special kind on its own.

My first train ride was quite lovely. It was with my two sister-in-laws, Julia and Stephanie. We took the train from Austin to Denton for a day trip on the Amtrak’s, Texas Eagle. Let me say that when one thinks about travel you usually think about going by car or flying, but train for travel is a great alternative to your typical options. Anyways, we boarded the train so excited for the experience! My sister-in-law, Julia, is quite the planner and has ridden the train numerous times before so she had me and my other sister in law, Stephanie, all set. We had playing cards, books, comfy blankets and snacks – we were ready!

We went straight to the café cart and grabbed some coffee (a must!) and had some snacks all while enjoying each other’s company and soaking in the view of the historic Texas towns we passed through along the way. Once we finished with our coffee and snacks we headed on up to the viewing cart and enjoyed much more of the beautiful Texas scenery. We eventually headed back to our seats for a little cat nap before our arrival. In case you’re wondering, sleeping on a train was actually more comfortable to me than sleeping on a plane or car!

I am so glad I had the experience of train travel and look forward to planning many more adventures. Since talking about my train travel experience with others, I have had several ask me about what I thought. I am no expert on train travel whatsoever, but I do have a few tips and thoughts for you future train travelers based off of my own experience.  Traveling by train was stress free and was a good way to see the diverse Texas landscape and personalities through a train window. There is no assigned seating and when planning a train trip keep a few things in mind:

  1. Plan your route
  2. Buy your tickets at https://www.amtrak.com/home
  3. Keep in mind that trains run late just as planes do – so don’t be in a rush – delays happen. This is helpful to know in case you’re planning a short trip. Helpful tip: sign up for the free text alerts when you buy your tickets so you can get updates on delays or early arrivals.
  4. Download the Amtrak app. You can show your ticket, find your station and check your train status all on your phone!
  5. Disconnect – I don’t remember having cell service and I am not sure if all train rides will be like the one I took, but it was nice to disconnect from the world for a bit. I was able to sit and enjoy the world around me – it was refreshing and rejuvenating.
  6. Another thing to note is it is easy to change your ticket. My sister-in-laws and I were planning on riding the train out to New Orleans from Houston, but unfortunately there was a 3 to 4 hour delay- it would have been faster to just get there by car so we made the choice to cancel our train travel to New Orleans and just drive the rest of the way. We were refunded our money I believe pretty instantly. Check the fine print because there are probably certain circumstances to refunds – but if you absolutely have to cancel talk to Amtrak and  see if they can help you with a refund or credit .
  7. Our luggage consisted of two carryon bags, a blanket and laptop bag/personal item for each of us, if I remember correctly (you can always go the Amtrak website for more accurate information, but it was plenty for our little day trip)
  8. There are two places you can eat: the café cart and the dining cart.  Reservations are only required in the dining cart, however I did not get to experience the dining cart on my trip so I can’t speak so much on the quality of the food and such.
  9. The bathrooms are compact, but definitely better than most plane bathrooms in my opinion.
  10. Your things are safe! I had no issues or concerns with the safety of my belongings at any time during my ride.
  11. I would also like to add that riding the train for a day trip is a good “Mom Vacay” because it gives you the option to leave a vehicle at home for the family – if needed.

I encourage you to visit Amtrak.com for more information and to plan your next trip via train ride!  Riding a train was both interesting and fun, and definitely an experience I think everyone can enjoy. If you do decide to book your own train rude adventure, my biggest advice to you is to sit back, grab a book and enjoy the ride!

Life is a journey after all – Happy travels!

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