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Old 08-27-2010, 06:08 PM   #751
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they do cancel for bad weather, the train was cancelled last february when we were scheduled to go down, they did reimburse us with no problem, the drove down, and came back on the autotrain, they just cancelled our way down, gave us the money and we kept the way back.
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Old 08-28-2010, 10:16 AM   #752
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I know they cancel in heavy snow. We were stuck in FL an extra week because the train was cancelled during that time. We ended up driving home.
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Old 08-28-2010, 10:23 AM   #753
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they do cancel for bad weather, the train was cancelled last february when we were scheduled to go down, they did reimburse us with no problem, the drove down, and came back on the autotrain, they just cancelled our way down, gave us the money and we kept the way back.
Well, I figured if it were cancelled we would just drive down; not that I would want to with the 3 kids, who do NOT like road trips.

How much notice did they give you?
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Old 08-28-2010, 10:32 AM   #754
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Well, I figured if it were cancelled we would just drive down; not that I would want to with the 3 kids, who do NOT like road trips.

How much notice did they give you?
We got a call the morning we were set to go home at around 9:30 on our way to Boma for a last breakfast. Tropical Storm Fay put a ton of debris on the track and the train we were supposed to take back didn't get into Fl until 7:30 that night. Yes 11 hours late.

At the time we weighed our options:
  • try to leave later - not possible kids had to get to school the day after we got back
  • fly home but realize that a car is not a carry on nor can be checked
  • set the GPS to home and start driving we called ahead for a hotel and stayed some where in NC. We also went to the Amtrak station in Kissimmee(?) to refund our tickets. Before we started to head home
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Old 08-28-2010, 05:25 PM   #755
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How much luggage, well how big a bag, can I take on the auto train?

There are two of us and will be in coach. I am planning a lockable wheeled carryon sized bag and a soft bag with pillows/blankets.
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Old 08-28-2010, 08:00 PM   #756
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In coach I wouldn't bring much more than that, all you need is for overnight plus any meds and toiletries you need or want. For other luggage you can bring as much as will fit in the car.
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Old 08-30-2010, 01:03 PM   #757
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I was thinking about driving down the night before the train leaves, just so I'm not so stressed about getting there on time. DH, who isn't going, has been pushing for this. ( He was recently on a business trip to MD, and was delayed 1 1/2 with road contruction. )

We have to leave after the kids get out of school on Fri, so we won't be leaving until 3:30 pm. I plan on taking US 15 all the way to I-66 and then getting a hotel in Manassas. I am thinking I won't encounter too much traffic on this route?

also, check out is noon, so by the time we load up, grab some lunch,etc, we should get to Lorton station around 1 pm. Is this too early? I don't want to sit around for several hours before boarding if I don't have to.
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Old 08-30-2010, 03:35 PM   #758
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Originally Posted by spima3 View Post
I was thinking about driving down the night before the train leaves, just so I'm not so stressed about getting there on time. DH, who isn't going, has been pushing for this. ( He was recently on a business trip to MD, and was delayed 1 1/2 with road contruction. )

We have to leave after the kids get out of school on Fri, so we won't be leaving until 3:30 pm. I plan on taking US 15 all the way to I-66 and then getting a hotel in Manassas. I am thinking I won't encounter too much traffic on this route?

also, check out is noon, so by the time we load up, grab some lunch,etc, we should get to Lorton station around 1 pm. Is this too early? I don't want to sit around for several hours before boarding if I don't have to.
You will encounter traffic ... just know it and go with the flow. It shouldn't be as bad though as 95/495, so just keep saying that to yourself! If you can pull the kids out just one hour early w/o any penalty, you may want to consider that b/c your drive should be much smoother, less traffic, and quicker. However, if you can't, don't fret. You have all night to get there, right?!

Another idea would be to get a lunch 'to-go' on Saturday and then eat your lunch at the train station. For our first trip, we arrived at 1pm and found that we had lots of time (i.e., too much time). There is a playground (small) that will be fun for the kids at Lorton but if you plan to eat lunch on one of the benches/seats, then play on the playground, and walk around the building, look at the train, etc., this will help make the time go quicker.

Good luck with it all!
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Old 08-30-2010, 10:43 PM   #759
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You have all night to get there, right?!
Well, hopefully, it won't take that long!
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Old 09-12-2010, 10:12 PM   #760
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update on trip

We are here now in Florida!

I was worried about driving down the day of departure, Sat, so I picked the kids up after school and we headed to Manassas, VA.

Driving from PA, we ended up taking US-15 South all the way toI-66. I took about 5 hours but that included a pit stop, ,a short stop for some dinner, slight backup of traffic around Harrisburg and some slow moving traffic due to contruction on I-81. So all in all not that long and it was a really pleasant road trip.

We arrived in Lorton on Sat, nicely refreshed after our stay at the hotel and got logged in around 1:45 pm. We started boarding around 3 pm and left around 4, I think?

There were several seats open near us, so we grabbed them right away, once everyone seemed to be loaded. There was a large family that boarded very late, they must just have hit the cut off, but luckily they were behind us, so we didn't have to move.

We only had choice of 5 or 9 pm for dinner. I heard the one clerk ask about it and the guy said coach was 5 or 9, so maybe 7 pm was gone? Either way, we were hungry so the 5 pm worked well. It was delicious.

We got back to our seats and settled in watching the scenery, reading, etc.
We were all really tired for some reason, so ended up going to bed early, around 9 pm. My
DS didn't sleep well at all, but the rest of us did ok, it's not like sleeping comfortably in your own bed, but we did get enough sleep and the night passed quickly, so that works for me.

They announced fairly early that we were ahead of schedule and would be getting into the station around 7:30. Only one problem, the station wasn't even open yet, so by the time they opened and had there early morning set up, we didn't actually start into unloading until 8:45. BUT, it was still earlier than we would have gotten in, so we were happy to be on our way by 9:45 am.

It was a great trip, and I'm very glad we didn't fly this time around.
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Old 09-13-2010, 10:35 AM   #761
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So you were not bohered by any noise or other people not turning off their headlight?
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Old 09-13-2010, 11:53 AM   #762
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Originally Posted by spima3 View Post
We are here now in Florida!

I was worried about driving down the day of departure, Sat, so I picked the kids up after school and we headed to Manassas, VA.

Driving from PA, we ended up taking US-15 South all the way toI-66. I took about 5 hours but that included a pit stop, ,a short stop for some dinner, slight backup of traffic around Harrisburg and some slow moving traffic due to contruction on I-81. So all in all not that long and it was a really pleasant road trip.

We arrived in Lorton on Sat, nicely refreshed after our stay at the hotel and got logged in around 1:45 pm. We started boarding around 3 pm and left around 4, I think?

There were several seats open near us, so we grabbed them right away, once everyone seemed to be loaded. There was a large family that boarded very late, they must just have hit the cut off, but luckily they were behind us, so we didn't have to move.

We only had choice of 5 or 9 pm for dinner. I heard the one clerk ask about it and the guy said coach was 5 or 9, so maybe 7 pm was gone? Either way, we were hungry so the 5 pm worked well. It was delicious.

We got back to our seats and settled in watching the scenery, reading, etc.
We were all really tired for some reason, so ended up going to bed early, around 9 pm. My
DS didn't sleep well at all, but the rest of us did ok, it's not like sleeping comfortably in your own bed, but we did get enough sleep and the night passed quickly, so that works for me.

They announced fairly early that we were ahead of schedule and would be getting into the station around 7:30. Only one problem, the station wasn't even open yet, so by the time they opened and had there early morning set up, we didn't actually start into unloading until 8:45. BUT, it was still earlier than we would have gotten in, so we were happy to be on our way by 9:45 am.

It was a great trip, and I'm very glad we didn't fly this time around.
Hmm, that's interesting about not having a 7pm dinner service. I wonder if this is new b/c we had one in July and we were in coach.

Glad you didn't have too many problems with traffic. I think it was very smart to arrive the night before.

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So you were not bothered by any noise or other people not turning off their headlight?
I'd say if you are a light sleeper or need a dark room, then you'd want to get a room, not coach. They do dim the lights at 9pm but most adults keep their lights on to read or talk quietly. I'm not bothered by that as it's not in my eyes. Now if you got the seat right next to the stairs, this was very bright. I noticed that those folks hung a blanket up to block out the light and give them some privacy.

Same thing with noise. It's not going to be quiet. You'll hear the train's movements, people talking (hopefully quietly) and a baby crying to get to sleep. Also, the whooshing of the doors opening and closing can be loud if your seat is close to the door; same thing if you got the seat closest to the stairs. By about 10-11pm, everyone in our car seemed to be asleep and you do acclimate to the noise...it all becomes part of the background.

However, people can still be walking through your car to get to their car or to go to the bathroom or lounge car, at any hour in the night.

I consider myself a good sleeper yet I woke up almost every hour. That surprised me. However, I was able to go back to sleep immediately and felt generally rested (might have been the adrenaline!).

Also the train makes at least one stop to change crew or fill up gas/water, empty sewage or whatever they do. The train can also slow down along the way or stop for other traffic. So you may wake up like I did just b/c the change in motion.

I think my problem was I am a tall woman (6') and the seats aren't really made to sleep in for a tall person so my legs would end up falling asleep and that woke me up. Also, I had to share the seat next to me with my DD 16 months, who took up a lot more room than a 23 lb baby should!
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Old 09-13-2010, 01:22 PM   #763
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We only had choice of 5 or 9 pm for dinner. I heard the one clerk ask about it and the guy said coach was 5 or 9, so maybe 7 pm was gone? Either way, we were hungry so the 5 pm worked well. It was delicious.
This is weird because I was under the understanding that if there was only enough people to fill 2 seatings they would not do the 9PM.

Maybe this is an easy way for them to spread out the meals. On our trip I'm pretty sure we picked 5:00 PM and at the end of our meal the servers where singing some sort of "We're glad we served you but please get the heck out of here because we have to setup for the next meal" song.

Though if they wanted to do that why wouldn't they just move the 9:00 PM meal to 8:00 PM.
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Old 09-13-2010, 01:30 PM   #764
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Probably the 7:00 seating was filled by the time the family checked in, I believe it was said, at 1:45. People can check in for the AT starting at 11:30 am and it is first come, first reserve for dinner seatings. Or, since it was stated that only 5 and 9 were available for coach, maybe more spots are held for those who pay for bedrooms.

When we went by AT we had a roomette both ways and there were free snacks around 3:30 to 4 so we would not have wanted dinner at 5. We were able to get the 7:00 seating both times. On the way north there was no 9:00 seating that trip.
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Old 09-13-2010, 01:42 PM   #765
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Probably the 7:00 seating was filled by the time the family checked in, I believe it was said, at 1:45. People can check in for the AT starting at 11:30 am and it is first come, first reserve for dinner seatings. Or, since it was stated that only 5 and 9 were available for coach, maybe more spots are held for those who pay for bedrooms.

When we went by AT we had a roomette both ways and there were free snacks around 3:30 to 4 so we would not have wanted dinner at 5. We were able to get the 7:00 seating both times. On the way north there was no 9:00 seating that trip.
Its possible that the 7:00 PM was filled. Though we checked in at 1:30 for a train that was completely full and still had all three sittings to pick from.

As for holding the tables for people with rooms, there is a separate dining with a different menu then we got in what we called "steerage" aka coach.
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