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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Take the train

Posted By on Tue, Apr 27, 2010 at 8:52 AM

My husband and I love the train. You get plenty of room, you can plug in your electronics and use your cell phone, the people watching rocks, there's a snack bar — complete with beer, wine and cocktails — and a dining car. And, if you want to spend the extra dough you can get a sleeper car. Another real bonus is there is hardly ever a line at the ticket counter or much of a wait to get seated. For those of you who only travel by air, you'd be amazed at how efficient Amtrak can be.

One more thing: If you're a student, a veteran, a AAA member, etc. you qualify for a discount. (Check Amtrak.com for details.)

After idling for decades, train travel in the United States, while not quite out of the station, is beginning to work up a healthy head of steam.

And experts say that is thanks largely to the mounting hassles and tacked-on costs of traveling by air.

"Clients paying extra for checked bags, carry-on bags, blankets, pillows, headsets, food, drinks and, in the case of Ryanair, even to use the toilet, are looking for a less expensive option," she said. "It's nice to see the resurgence of a travel experience that had seemingly lost its luster."

Read more from MSNBC.com and Reuters here.

To be fair, however, there are a few cons to train travel. The train usually arrives in Charlotte in the wee hours of the morning, which isn't ideal. The train station's parking lot is tiny. The train doesn't go everywhere you might want it to go. You definitely need to consider bringing a pillow, a blankey and an eye mask ... and maybe some noise-canceling headphones.

However! Even with all of those cons in mind, we still plan to take the train whenever possible. It's a great option if you're traveling up or down the east coast. And, it can be an ideal alternative if you're only heading to Raleigh.

Look into the fine details and price your ticket at Amtrak.com.

click to enlarge Conductor Scooter in Charlotte, circa 2008
  • Conductor Scooter in Charlotte, circa 2008

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