We made plans to visit family in Florida and were weighing our options for the mode of travel. We had several legs planned for this trip, so the car was an important consideration. We decided to take the Amtrak Auto Train from Lorton VA to Sanford FL. There was a sale which made it a little cheaper than the last time we traveled by Auto Train and getting a sleeper car seemed COVID safe. It’s not for everyone under every circumstance but it’s a viable option for some. Many are curious about the experience so I thought I would share our journey from Lorton to Sanford on a weekday recently.
The trip is scheduled to leave at 4 PM and arrive around 8 AM the next morning. Upon arrival at the station in Lorton, we checked in with just our names. We were given some sanitizer, a dinner menu and dinnertime options. Most of your luggage is in your vehicle so you just take what you need for overnight. Then we waited in the open airy station with plenty of outside seating for a couple of hours while the cars were being filmed for documentation prior to loading them onto the train.
Our porter, Daniel, showed us our sleeper car which in small but not claustrophobic (at least for us). Three or four of the other sleepers in this car were occupied, about half total capacity. The train aisles are narrow and rocky as expected if you’ve ever seen one of those Lucy episodes!
Our dinner was delivered on time and still warm. It was not gourmet, but it was not bad (certainly better than a McDonald’s chicken sandwich!). We each had the chicken which we ate at the table in our sleeper, knee to knee but that was very manageable. The porter came to set up the bunk style beds and the train motion rocked us to sleep. Breakfast was available the next morning though we did not partake.
We actually departed and therefore arrived almost an hour early. Bathrooms and showers are available. There are also roomette style accommodations complete with their own bathroom/sink etc. Or, you can choose to ride coach style such as on an airplane.
As I said, it’s not for everybody on every occasion. Lorton VA is a long ride from Cape Ann, but only about 5 hours from our home in New York. Amtrak is offering a number of fare reductions for summer travel which we are considering. It’s great to have your car full of your own stuff packed any old way you prefer….especially if you need to transport more than you can carry. It’s worth consideration and I think we may do it again someday.