The travel challenge: Find the easiest and cheapest way to get from southwest Virginia to Newark, New Jersey. Answer: Amtrak. This meant a new travel experience for me. I had never ridden the rail before (unless, of course, you count the family fun trip on Tweetsie Railroad).
I questioned some seasoned travelers to learn more about train travel. The Q&A went something like this:
Q. What is check-in like?
A. There isn’t any.
Q. If there’s no check-in, who do you give your ticket to?
A. Someone will come by and ask you for them once you are under way.
Q. You mean it’s just like Harry Potter minus the chocolate frogs?
A. Uh, yes.
Q. What about the bags? Does TSA check the bags?
Traveling on Amtrak was super-easy and pretty much hassle-free. Everything friends told me about train travel was true and then some. I spent a lot of time people-watching easily learning from other passengers what to do and what not to do.
Over half the people heading north that day showed up about 15 minutes before the train arrived. (I had been there an hour early—unnecessarily.)
Train travel seemed to be one of the easiest ways to move family members from one destination to another. The seats were roomy and plentiful. The aisles were wide enough to pass through comfortably and there overhead storage was ample, as well as space beneath the seats.
The atmosphere was relaxed and easy. People of all ages seemed to be enjoying themselves. It was so very different from traveling by air. Now, I can’t wait to take my kids on a trip by train.
Best of all the train had free WiFi AND a power outlet. Not only could I get some work done during my 9-hour trip, I could also keep my phone charged.