Bumping because our next Amtrak adventure awaits.
We need to visit the parents in Florida - the adult kids have decided that this is something we need to do several times a year, as they are not doing all that well.
Since my husband and I are closest, physically (if a thousand miles might be described as “close”), we can actually drive - and did so, in April. My son came along in April, and with 3 drivers, we did it in one day. We were not sure about having him come along on the next trip, plus Labor Day weekend is the best time for me to go (having blown most of my vacation time already, see above!); I’ll work while down there, but at least this gives me one day off while down there.
Household members were certain that my assessment of traffic on the Saturday as “not likely to be that bad” was insane - my argument was that most people would have travelled on the Friday. Oh well, we’d have dealt with it anyway.
We looked at taking the train - but it’s a solid 24 hours (I’ve taken it before), and the hassle of renting a car. Then a went off: AUTO TRAIN.
We happen to have taken this before - 3 times, so this’ll be the 4th. We live very close - less than 15 minute drive, unless it’s afternoon rush hour (and if it’s afternoon rush hour, we’ve already missed the train!).
The downsides are: we have to arrive well over an hour before departure (to give them time to load cars), and it’s typically an hour at the other end for cars to be offloaded (we could spend $ to get priority unloading). That’ll entail waiting in pea-soup humidity outdoors (or staying inside in the A/C with the morons who don’t believe in masks). Plus, it’s about a 3 hour drive once we get down there (and a 3 hour drive to get back to the station for the return trip). I cheaped out and just got us a single roomette each way - the extra cost just didn’t seem worth it for one night.
- We can bring tons of stuff, that would not be possible if we flew (given schedule insanity, and COVID, that is NOT happening) or took a regular train. Since one of our aims is to bring a countertop dishwasher for the parents, that’ll help.
- No hotel expense in either direction (with 2 drivers, we’d likely want to break the trip up).
- Less food expense in either direction (dinner and breakfast are provided; we’d need to buy lunch in Florida, both ways).
- It’ll put me over into the next tier level on Amtrak Rewards, for what that’s worth
- TRAIN TRAIN TRAIN TRAIN.
The cost winds up being (roughly) a wash, if we figure the car cost using the IRS mileage rates. 200 miles from Sandford to the parents, versus 1000, so 800 miles at 60 (roughly) cents a mile = 480 dollars each way, plus hotel and food for each drive - say 150 each way. Add all that together, and we’re paying a bit more in fare than those costs, but there’s less wear and tear on US.
Interestingly, if we travelled a day earlier (leaving on the Friday), a bedroom would have been cheaper than a roomette. Bizarro. Still more than the Saturday.
BTW, I got that same survey, and it also cut me off at about the same point. That may simply be all there was to the survey.