In less than eight hours, I'll be traveling about 100 mph in a metal box alongside 500 fellow Amtrak riders including college kids, screaming babies, and such businessmen. All of this for the low, low price of $300 R/T. How else would I get home to see my family (and fellow Jetlag Hag Staci!) for Thanksgiving? The BUS?!?
Some people actually fly back, but those people are idiots. For the same price ticket, you can go to the bathroom all you like and use your phone whenever you want on a train. Most importantly, you can show up 10 minutes before departure and fill your whole damn suitcase with liquids if you so choose.
Not that Amtrak comes without problems (Penn Station for starters), but I do like leg room and the ability to switch metal boxes. If I hate everyone in my train car, I can usually retreat to an empty booth in the cafe car. (Note: this car doubles as actual seating during peak holiday travel hours).
Here are a few things I do to improve my Amtrak adventure:
Penn Station is gross for a number of reasons. One of which is that its always 100 degrees for no apparent reason. Add in the dim corridors, 6foot ceilings and sprinting Long Island residents crossing directly in your path in every 2 feet, and you get the feeling that its some sort of sensory endurance test.
Unfortunately, there's nothing to be done about the nightmare that is someone's idea of a floor plan. I can, however, suggest that you strip off all of your clothes the second you enter the station (or at least the top layer). This will save you from a drenching sweat and subsequent gross hair.
Since seemingly no one can regulate temperature on transportation, that top layer you took off will come in handy.
Pro Tip: Feel free to ignore my advice and be as gross and you wanna be. You'll have a better chance of sitting alone.
BRING KINDLE (OR COMPARABLE DEVICE)
Train rides to Baltimore can vary from three to four hours, and let me tell you, there's no in-flight entertainment so bring your own. Otherwise, you'll be stuck watching a college kid write their midterm paper. Fun fact: I've never not seen this happen on a train during Thanksgiving week.
Pro Tip: Turn your phone into a TV using the tray table hook! Find out how to here.
GRAB A SNACK
Amtrak does have a snack car, but just smelling that food makes me nauseous, so I bring my own.
Pro Tip: Don't bring anything that smells. Everyone will hate you, and I will publicly shame you via this blog.
I don't have any tips on finding a decent seat mate. That's up to the Amtrak gods. Lucky for me, my cousin Gabby will be joining me on my journey back to Charm City, so I'm all set.
I can't wait to see my family, hang out with old friends, and most importantly, eat ALL THE KUGEL!
HAPPY TURKEY DAY!