Tamela’s Travel Tips #1 TRAINSPIRATION

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Tamela’sTravel Tips #1 TRAINSPIRATION

Tamela’s Travel Tips #1 TRAINSPIRATION

“It’s my experience that most folk who ride trains could care less where they’re going. For them it’s the journey itself and the people they meet along the way. You see, at every stop this train makes, a little bit of America, a little bit of your country, gets on and says hello.” David Baldacci, The Christmas Train

Tamela’sTravel Tips #1 TRAINSPIRATION
Annelore Harrell boarding the train.

This is the first in a series of travel blogs intended to inspire and encourage your adventurous side. The itinerary in this TRAINSPIRATION article covers 4 days, June 30-July 3, 2017, costs only $116 plus rental car (2 days $130+) and hotel (3 nights) and will take you from Savannah to St. Augustine to Tampa and back to Savannah.

Train travel offers a few advantages over other modes of travel. It’s not always less expensive than flying, but it’s cheaper if more than one person is “on-board.”AND IT’S FUN!

Pros of Train Travel:

  • No 50 lb limit on luggage
  • Roomy recliner seating
  •  Dining cars are great when available
  • The VIEW (some trains have special all-glass viewing cars)
  • Cozy roomettes – go to sleep and wake up at your destination
  • Wifi
  • Electric socket by your seat to keep your devices charged
  • Trains are rarely canceled because of bad weather
  • New friends: other passengers and pleasant Amtrak staff
  • The soothing chug, chug, chug of the train
  • Train travel is just plain FUN

Cons of Train Travel:

  • If a commercial train needs the track you are on, your train will have to wait
  • Some train routes have a dismal record of being delayed (if you love trains, you get used to it)
  • Some trains don’t have dining cars – BOO HOO
  • If your departing afternoon train arrives late you might miss the deadline for reserving your spot in the dining car – DOUBLE BOO HOO
  • Roomettes are lovely but expensive
  • Scheduling can be tricky – take into consideration distance of Amtrak station from things like car rental, hotel, airport, cruise line – not all cities have Uber, taxi or Lyft – some small towns have limited car rental options and some are closed on Sunday – check the schedules of car rental offices before you book your train tix
  • If you have a cruise connection – go a day early just in case
  • You can bring heavy luggage, but be prepared to carry it yourself
  • Dining cars are usually by reservation only and sometimes fully booked before you have a chance to reserve (no, you can’t reserve until you are ON the train) ALWAYS BRING YOUR OWN FOOD AND DRINK JUST IN CASE

I love train travel. I care about the things that can go wrong and they can be annoying, but what goes right is worth it. If you don’t have an Amtrak account – that’s the first step. Go to www.amtrak.com and sign up. Look around the website. Call customer service if you have questions that aren’t answered online. Plug in some dates and play around with the schedules. Don’t forget to add discounts you are entitled to. You can also call and ask someone to help you make a reservation to make sure you don’t miss anything that isn’t obvious to a newbie. If you aren’t into saving money, but love convenience, there are Amtrak trips that aren’t cheap, but are relatively hassle-free and include hotels, cars, cruises, etc. You can even request a trip which is custom designed just for you. However, if you want to save money, learn how to patiently watch and wait for the deals that pop up from time to time and be ready to grab them.

Tamela’sTravel Tips #1 TRAINSPIRATION
L – R: Brenda Scott, Karleen Vankeuren, Tamela Maxim

NOTE: I chose train + bus for one of the segments between Palatka and Tampa even though a straight train ride was available. Why? Because the train would have arrived and departed at 8 am and the ONLY rental car company in town (Enterprise) is not open until 9 am on SATURDAYS. (No Lyft, Uber or taxi in Palatka) AND I also did not choose a Sunday train ride because the rental car office is not open on Sunday. It’s the little details that make it nice when someone else figures all of this out for you. Another FYI – coach round trip projected Amtrak ticket prices for this trip are Senior: $116, Adult: $136 and AAA: $122. Savannah Amtrak 912.234.2611 Amtrak 800.872.7245 (call the national number before you leave home to check and see if your train is on time)

PACKING CHECKLIST: Besides all the usual items like clothes, toiletries, jewelry,raincoat, cell phone, e-reader, device chargers, swimsuit, travel pillow, sunglasses, hat, umbrella – do a last minute check to make sure you have your ID, credit card used for reservations, and if you have a Handicap placard and a walking stick bring those along too.

4 Day Multi-City Train Adventure For As Little As $500 Per Person

Tamela’sTravel Tips #1 TRAINSPIRATION
Nicholas Maxim saying goodbye at the station.

Summary of Trip:

Friday, June 30th
Savannah to Palatka (by train)
St. Augustine – 1 night in a hotel

Saturday, July 1st
St. Augustine to Palatka to Tampa Bay(by car rental, train, bus)

Saturday, July 1st to Sunday, July 2nd
Tampa Bay – 2 nights in a hotel
Uber, Lyft, taxi or any public transportation from Tampa Train Station to hotel and back

Monday, July 3rd
Tampa to Orlando to Savannah (by bus or train)


SAV = Savannah, Georgia
Palatka, Florida
Tampa, Florida
Orlando, Florida
Priced at Senior 62+ rate Coach

Cost Estimate: $116 (train) + $200 1 night St. Augustine + 2 nights Tampa $400 + $300 meals etc. = $1016 (two people cost about $1016 + $116 + $300 = $1416) Hotels in St. Augustine and Tampa are relatively expensive – you can reduce your cost significantly by bidding on your room at the last minute – for example Priceline.com’s Name Your Own Price or by staying for only about $100 per night in a nice hotel that is not right in town.

Cost Estimate: (with reduced hotel and less on meals/entertainment):
1 person $116+$100+$200+$100 = $516
2 persons $332+$100+$200+$200 = $832/$416 per person

The Details:

Walk 2 blocks to Enterprise at 500 Reid St. to get rental car or arrange for pickup. You can call 386.329.8999.

Palatka To St. Augustine – 29 miles/40 minutes by car

Overnight to St. Augustine

St. Augustine to Palatka – 29 miles/40 minutes by car

Walk 2 blocks to Enterprise at 500 Reid St. to get rental car or arrange for pickup. You can call 386.329.8999.

Saturday, July 1, 2017 – 91 Silver Meteor PAK (ORL $26.35)

Tamela’sTravel Tips #1 TRAINSPIRATION
Tampa Public Trolley

Palatka To Orlando – 105 miles/2 hours 9 minutes by train
Departure Time: 10:40 AM
Arrival Time: 12:49 PM
Dining car available

Saturday, July 1, 2017 – 6097 Thruway Bus ORL to TPA (included in price shown above PAK-ORL)

Orlando To Tampa – 95 miles/2 hours by bus
Departure Time: 1:30 PM
Arrival Time: 3:30 PM

Upon arrival in Tampa take Uber, taxi, Lyft or public transportation to hotel.

2 Overnights in Tampa

On day of departure take Uber, taxi, Lyft or public transportation from hotel to station.

Monday, July 3, 2017 – 6098 Thruway Bus (TPA – ORL $54.40)

Tampa to Orlando – 95 miles / 2 hours, 20 minutes by bus
Departure Time: 12:30 PM
Arrival Time: 3:50 PM                                                                                                                 

Monday, July 3, 2017 – 98 Silver Meteor (ORL – SAV included in the price listed above TPA-ORL)

Orlando to Savannah – 279 miles / 5 hours, 48 minutes by train
Departure Time: 1:35 PM
Arrival Time: 7:23 PM

My heart is warm with the friends I make, 
And better friends I’ll not be knowing, 
Yet there isn’t a train I wouldn’t take, 
No matter where it’s going.”
Edna St. Vincent Millay

Tamela’s Travel Tips #1 TRAINSPIRATION
Article Name
Tamela’s Travel Tips #1 TRAINSPIRATION
Maybe you are already a savvy train traveler –or maybe you’re still waiting to get your Amtrak “WHEELS.” Either way, there’s always something new to learn about riding the rails.
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Premier Lowcountry Digital Marketing
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