We kicked off this adventure to our nation’s capital not traveling by car or airplane, but rather by TRAIN!!! This is something the boys have always wanted to do, and something neither Honey or I have ever done so we thought… “why not?!” We booked our tickets for the Amtrak Crescent Line that originates in New Orleans and hits Atlanta, Washington D.C. and New York, among many other smaller stops. The portion from Atlanta to D.C. is about 14 hours long in an overnight ride from 8PM – 10AM.
Since we were traveling in the Sleeper Car, we had a “first class” waiting area at the train station and were the first to board when our train arrived. We were giddy and almost running down the platform to see what was in store! We were cheerfully greeted by our host, Grady, and shown to our accommodations. Here is what it looked like inside… a narrow hallway with sliding doors to each room.
We booked two Viewliner Roomettes for our trip. They are designed for one or two passengers, with large seats on either side of a picture window. At night, the seats convert to a bed and an upper berth is lowered down from the ceiling. There is also a sink and a toilet, as well as storage space for one piece of luggage. There were a lot of options for lighting – from nightlights to reading lights to full on LIGHTS. Overall, it was smaller than I expected but comfortable for an overnight ride and well laid out space-wise.
We were promptly escorted to the dining car for dinner almost as soon as we put our stuff down and checked out our accommodations. We thought the dining car was just the bees knees.
For those of you that have read the Christmas Train, I was curious and intrigued by the social aspect of train travel portrayed in the book. I can tell you that it was SO true!! I absolutely loved that part about our train travel. Everyone is chatty and friendly and that is just encouraged (if not forced) in the dining car. You are seated in the order in which you arrive and they fill up a table before moving to the next. Everyone chats across tables as well. Funny enough, we met a Coke Exec that I had exchanged numerous emails with in my time at Coke but never met in person! He was also a GT alum!
I got so many questions around the food and drinks on social media! Well, food in the dining car is included in the cost of the trip for the sleeper guests, otherwise it would have been pretty pricey for what you get. The service was wonderful and the food quality was okay. I mean, you’re on a train :-) It is definitely better than airplane food. They do serve beer and wine, and have a full bar as well. Alcohol is not included.
When we returned from dinner our roomette had been prepared for bed. It was so small that it was hard to get a good picture for you.
Our roomette was directly across the hall from Honey and John. We could easily talk between the two rooms with a normal volume level. The two early birds did a little reading and then were off to sleep… Oh, and another question I’ve been asked a lot about this adventure is “how did you sleep?” The boys were out like a light. Honey and I didn’t get a lot of sleep. I was prepared for that – I honestly don’t sleep well the first night or two anywhere I am. I have to reach the point of sheer exhaustion.
We woke up the next morning and checked the Amtrak site right away to see where we were – Lynchburg VA!! We loved that the train had wifi and that we could track where we were and where we were headed next throughout the trip.
While the night was fun and festive with dinner and the newness and novelty of the whole thing, morning was almost surreal sipping coffee and having breakfast as we rolled through Virginia.
Speaking of which, Whit and I made it to breakfast before John and Honey and were seated with a dad and his daughter traveling from Atlanta to DC for spring break just like us. We loved meeting them, exchanging stories and talking about our week ahead. He is the director of the Mock Trial program for the state of Georgia and his daughter is in 5th grade. Did I mention that we love meeting people?!
Almost too soon and our adventure was over! We arrived in the beautiful Union Station in Washington D.C. and were ready to hit the ground running!!!
My thoughts and tips on the train…
- First things first, I recommend it and I would absolutely do it again if the right opportunity presented itself. It was something I know for certain my boys will never forget.
- Book early! I booked us last summer for travel this April. The Sleeper accommodations do sell out.
- Travel in a sleeper car is no cheaper than flying. We did the train one way and then flew home. The cost was the same.
- I believe that train travel will work for certain types of people and circumstances. Here’s what I mean…
- I mentioned this above, but the train was very, very social. Nearly everyone left the sliding doors to their room open (unless sleeping) and people strolled by, said hi, started a conversation or just smiled. The dining car just promoted this even further. If you prefer to get on a plane, put your headphones in and take a nap until you reach your destination a couple of hours later then I don’t think you’d love the train.
- The train takes a long time. You have to have time in your trip schedule to do it. I don’t think it would work for a short weekend getaway.
- We were some of just a few others that we met that were first times. Train travel is like a whole sub-culture of people that do this frequently for various reasons (fear of flying, like the social aspect, enjoy the adventure, etc.)
- The train was tidy and clean, but not a luxury five star accommodation. It was kind of like glamping, maybe, if I had to compare it to something.
- There is a shower in the sleeper car (for everyone to use) and we did use it. (oy!) We knew our room wouldn’t be ready at the hotel and we were due at the National Archives just a couple of hours after arrival. So… we did it. It was part of the adventure.
- Something I did not know is that trains are notoriously late and unreliable. Our train was delayed on arrival by over an hour. We arrived in DC just 30 minutes late, as they made up some time over night. I would not plan something immediately after arrival at your final destination.
- You can check bags on the train and I would definitely do so! There was room in an overhead nook for only 1 carry-on size roller bag. You would literally be sitting with you feet on your bag if you had much more than that. Honey and I each had one additional bag (large purse for me and backpack for him.)
- You have your very own potty in your teeny-tiny room. I was not expecting that. Just putting it out there. It was a little awkward so be aware. :-) You also have a sink and mirror. That was handy. They provide linens, soap, toilet tissue, towels, etc. If you’re curious, I will say the quality of those items was also in the “glamping” category. They worked just fine for us.
- Since everyone kept their doors open, I now know that there are other larger, more spacious sleeping rooms as well! I guess none of these were available when I booked because I had no idea.
I am happy to answer any other train questions to the best of my ability! Ask away!
As for the rest of our trip, I’d love for you to follow along or catch up here!
Part 2: Washington D.C.
- Day 1 – National Archives, Arlington, Le Diplomate Dinner
- Day 2 – Easter at National Cathedral, Georgia Brown’s Jazz Brunch, American History Museum, Natural History Museum, Round Robin Bar, Old Ebbitt Grill
- Day 3 – Ford’s Theater, Spy Museum, Holocaust Museum, Ted’s Bulletin
- Day 4 – Capitol Tour, Georgetown, Founding Farmers
- Day 5 – White House Tour, Cherry Blossom Festival, Astro Doughnuts & Fried Chicken, Air & Space Museum, Nighttime Monuments Bike Tour, The Hamilton Dinner
- The Historic Willard Intercontinental Hotel
Part 4: Historic Triangle
I’ll update the links in our itinerary as I take y’all along on our trip.
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