View Full Version : Taking the train "home" from New England

05-23-2003, 09:35 AM
We are planning a March visit to BCV, and are considering taking the Amtrak autotrain. I have a few questions, and know the answers are in the forum somewhere, but can't get through to search...

1. We'll be driving from NH to VA to get the train -- I figure it
will take about 8 hours. Is that a realistic estimate?

2. Do you need to take a sleeper car, or is it possible to
sleep in the coach (my children are 11 and 13)?

3. When we get to Sanford, is there a "best" way to get to

4. We're thinking of doing this to save money and have our
own car in Florida -- it seems to save money over flying
if we ride in coach -- it's more expensive if we take the
sleeper car, and it still involves 16 hours of driving, to
and from NH to VA. Has anyone done this more than once
and have some suggestions?

Pointing me to other posts would be great, if this subject has been covered sometime in the recent past.

Thanks very much...

05-23-2003, 09:41 AM
You may find info on the Transportation board about the train.


good luck!

05-23-2003, 09:58 AM

I think a better estiamte to VA would be 10-11 hours driving from NH. Also, I do not see how you will save that much money taking train over flying. If you look for deals(flights and car rental) and use coupons(www.mousesavers.com) you can fly for about the same price. Also, by driving and taking train, you are going to lose almost 3 days of vacation. If you fly, you are there in 3 or 4 hours.

I would suggest shopping around for flights and car rental. I have seen flights to Orlando in the low $200's and a full size car rental for a week w/coupons can be had for about $300.

Just my .02


05-23-2003, 10:15 AM
I priced the autotrain for August of this year, and it was much more expensive to take the train, and the travel time was crazy; 10 hours down, then an overnight on the train, then the same back killed 3 days of our vacation. It was much cheaper to fly and rent a car, even renting a minivan.

05-23-2003, 10:50 AM
Originally posted by briand1023
a full size car rental for a week w/coupons can be had for about $300.

Just my .02


Brian, you can get a full-sized rental car for the week for MUCH cheaper than that unless you're going at XMas or school vacation week:) We just paid $146 total for a full-sized car for a week through Budget! Watch www.biddingfortravel.com on the Orlando rental cars board...you can often get a full-sized or better car for a very cheap rate by researching there and then bidding through Priceline. Also, you can book a lower car class directly through the rental car company for cheap if you have those guaranteed upgrade certificates (buy an Entertainment book for $15 and you'll get a ton of them:D)

05-23-2003, 02:14 PM
Hi nhwanderer, nice to see another NH'er here! My son in law's family lives in Virginia, when he drives down it takes a good 11-12 hours. Have you checked southwest flights out of Manchester, or anything out of Pease? When we fly down, we always get picked up by a towncar service, don't bother to rent a car any more. VERY convenient, then we rely on Disney transportation. Out of several trips, we have had only 1 really bad wait for a bus. Good luck!

05-23-2003, 02:52 PM
Last time we went(and every time in the future) we used ******** as a limo service. I belive it was $100 plus tip($35) to go from airport, stop at grocery store and then onto BWV.

Can't beat it.

Chip 'n Dale Express
05-23-2003, 06:11 PM
When I moved from New Hampshire to Orlando, I took the AutoTrain down. I ended up stopping in CT, and then again in central NY overnight to visit with some friends before I headed down to Lorton, VA... however, my guess is that it would be around 10-11 hours as another poster stated...

I took the AutoTrain because I was driving to Florida anyways, I'd never been on a railroad train before, and it would save me the wear and tear on me and my car.

My journey on the AutoTrain was definetly worth while... I loved it. But then again, I love different forms of transportation. :) I ended up getting a private sleeper berth... I loved it. With kids, I'd recommend the family sleeper room. I didn't take part in any of the movies or things going on in the Lounge car, but I did go to dinner. The food was EXCELLENT.

We arrived about an hour late to Sanford, due to construction on the tracks... but I did get my car quickly, and was on my way. I was in the Disney area by 10:30.

I wouldn't reccommend the AutoTrain to save time/money... but I would reccommend it for the fun and adventure of it.

05-24-2003, 06:54 AM
We took the Autotrain last summer for the first time. It was really an interesting experience. The trip down for us was only 4 hours and that was a bit of fun thanks to the excitement. The train ride in coach was fine, but sleeping was a challenge to say the least. I was led to believe that the seats were similar to first class plane seats ( not that I have ever flown first class, but I know they recline). The Autotrain seats do not recline any more than a normal airplane seat. That made it tough to sleep for sure. Then there is the matter of the noise. People walk back and forth all night long. They are respectful for the most part, but when they open the car door to move to the next car, the noise level increases. My kids, 16, 12, 6, slept through it fine as did my husband, but I was pretty much up the whole night. When returning home, we arrived in Sanford at the time we were told to do so only to be told ,after turning in our car , that there was a 4 hour wait for the train. 4 hours!!!!!!!! Sitting in that little Sanford station crammed with people. It was torture! Then, the ride home after we arrived in VA was hard, all the excitement had gone and we were so tired. All in all, it's not awful and it was very nice to have our car down there, but it took a lot of time from our vacation and was more stressful than flying for me. Good luck with your decision.

05-24-2003, 09:06 AM
I'm on the NH border, it usually takes 8-10 hrs to drive down.
I usually stay over, there is a comfort inn right near the train stations that is reasonable.

Your best bet to Disney is I4.

05-24-2003, 10:44 AM
Thank you all so much for your answers! They really help a lot. We flew Southwest this past March and used Tiffany towncar to get to/from WDW. It worked really well, except that I get anxious when there is a lot of turbulence in the air -- and there were storms all around Florida and the Carolinas when we flew -- the crew said "who needs Space Mountain, when you can fly Southwest!"...

Next March, I'd like to be able to take my kids to Cape Canaveral, and possibly drive to the Everglades, as well as spend time at WDW, which is why I was trying to figure out a good/cheap way to involve a car. I read somewhere (Mousesavers?) that Amtrak has an ebay site where they auction off cheap tickets on the autotrain. It seemed like we could save some money and have our own car that way.

Sounds like the train is a possibility, but would be an adventure all on its own (excellent food is a big plus!)...my kids might like that.

05-24-2003, 11:59 AM
Originally posted by briand1023
I do not see how you will save that much money taking train over flying. If you look for deals(flights and car rental) and use coupons(www.mousesavers.com) you can fly for about the same price. Also, by driving and taking train, you are going to lose almost 3 days of vacation. If you fly, you are there in 3 or 4 hours.

Auto-Train becomes relatively less expensive (compared to flying and renting a car) the longer you stay in Florida, since car rental charges catch up with A-T fares after a time. Someone staying two or three days might well find it cheaper to fly, but stay two or three weeks and having your own car (via Auto-Train) saves a bundle.

That said, Auto-Train's real market is people who would otherwise drive to Florida. Here, the train actually saves vacation time, when the alternative is a two day drive with an overnight motel stop. Price isn't necessairily the driving factor (pardon the pun) for many other A-T passengers, who avoid the increasing hassles of air travel and get to have their own car in Florida (makes packing easier - just toss it in the trunk). If you are looking for a less costly trip, one of Amtrak's conventional Florida trains is far less expensive anyway.

Finally, a word about the Ebay ticket promotion (now more-or-less a permanant offer). Sometimes you can find some real bargains, but there have been cases where the auction price has been actually more expensive than the ticket could have been purchased online at amtrak.com. It certainly pays to do your homework.

05-24-2003, 12:27 PM
The best place to get discounted Amtrak tickets is Railsale

Also there is a 25% off discount which you can use for Autotrain

05-24-2003, 11:49 PM
Ok -- I will print all this out and bookmark the Amtrak and car discount sites. I have now got a short (airplane) and long (train/car) trip in mind. Will work on the details and keep an eye on the prices.

Thank you all again :)