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All Aboard! Taking the Amtrak Autotrain
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When our move to Florida was set in stone, we started exploring options on how to get ourselves and our car down. Initially, we thought of flying and shipping the car down but the more we looked into it, the more we were drawn to the Amtrak Auto Train! We figured it would be more relaxing than driving and an experience the family will remember forever! Here is our experience!
What is the Auto Train?
The auto train runs from Lorton, VA to Sanford, FL once a day. The train leaves at 4pm and arrives in Florida at 9am. You car is boarded on special train cars and arrives in Florida right along with you!
What are the Accommodations?
You have several options when on the Auto Train:
Reserved coach seat – a standard train seats. Seats are 2 across
Roomette- tiny room that is a little wider than a seat and fits 2 people
Bedroom – Small room. Fits 2-3 people and has an attached bathroom
Family Bedroom- fits 4 people and spans the width of the train car. Seats convert to 2 lower and 2 upper beds at night.
You can also pay $65 for priority vehicle offloading. This ensures that you car is one of the first 30 vehicles off. At capacity, the Auto Train holds over 300 cars, so we paid for this and thought it was well worth it. We had our car in less than 10 minutes!
We arrived at the Lorton train station around 1:30pm. Last call for cars is 2:30pm and we wanted to have ample time. You pull your vehicle up, give your name and they attach a magnetic number to your car. They also visually inspect the car and record any scratches or dings. You take out your belongings (you are allowed 2 carry ons) and say “see you in Florida!” to the car.
We elected to stay in a family bedroom and I was surprised at how roomy it was! It spanned the entire length of the train car and we had plenty of room to spread out. The only downside do the family bedroom was that our bathroom was down the hall but the train was quiet and it really wasn’t a big deal.
All sleeper rooms have dinner and breakfast included in the fare. We were given the choice of dining in the dining car or in our room and given current conditions, we decided to eat in our car.
Dinner was pretty decent (think airplane food)– my kids had the chicken tenders and mac& cheese. They liked the tenders but not the mac (and loved the bread that came with it). My husband and I both had the chicken was was ok. The cheesecake dessert was really good!
Our room attendant brought our dinner and turned over the room to sleeping arrangements when we asked him to.
We found the train ride itself to be pretty smooth with the exception of some bumps overnight. My husband and I kept saying “this is so much more relaxing than driving!” In the morning, our room attendant brought us breakfast- cereal, crumb cake, coffee and milk.
Before we knew it, we were in sunny Sanford, Florida ready to start our new adventure! The drive to our Orlando suburb was around 30 minutes so this would be a great option if you are heading to Disney or just want an alternative to flying.
Here are some final tips if you are taking a trip on the auto train:
Priority offloading of your car is worth it!
Bring long sleeves- our cabin was very chilly, especially at night
Make sure your phones are charged before you board. The outlet in our cabin was not sturdy and our phone charger wouldn’t work in it.
Bring your own pillows- my husband and I brought our own while the kids were fine with the ones provided
Overall, we loved our experience on the auto train! If you are heading to Florida, give it a try. It is a trip you are sure to remember!
Welcome! I’m Krista- a 30-something mom who loves to shop and find a great bargain! I scour the internet daily to bring you handpicked sales, hot new products and must haves for your everyday life.