Getting there on Amtrak is half
By Kandice Crompton
March 16, 2009 | If you're anything like me you've
begun to think about summer. I started hearing the buzz
about summer activities about three weeks ago.
The sun finally showed itself for the first time in
what felts like weeks. The snow started sliding off
the roof of the TSC and the slush on the side of the
road turned an ugly brown. While plans for spring break
were already established, ideas summer activities were
just starting to bloom. I would like to take this column
to suggest a unique and incredibly fun experience that
I think many people miss out on. Who knows, maybe it
can be incorporated in your summer break plans.
The Amtrak train has six stations in Utah, and is
best for travel if you're heading toward California
or Chicago. From California the train goes north or
south, and from Chicago you can explore the East Coast.
Riding the train opens you to people and places you
would never have known existed.
In December 2007, I was moving home to Utah from Washington,
D.C. My roommate, who was moving home to Colorado, decided
that instead of flying home we would like to try riding
Amtrak. I will forever consider it one of the most interesting
experiences of my life.
On the two-day ride home I met a 60-year-old man who
bought me dinner in the dining car. We made friends
with the snack-car attendant, who later crept into the
dining car to sneak us some ice cream. My roommate made
friends with an old man who e-mailed her weekly for
two months after getting home. I slept comfortably in
a seat one night, and under that same seat the next.
I didn't shower for 55 hours. Through Colorado an old
conductor regaled us with stories about the area from
the scenic car. All in all, it was a successful trip.
I can understand why people these days don't ride
trains. While trains were the quickest way to get from
point A to point B in the late 1800s and early 1900s,
the airplane replaced it quickly when commercial airlines
started. To fly from Salt Lake City to Washington, D.C.,
takes six hours and costs $182.80, while riding the
train takes 55 hours, and will cost you $10.20 more
(based on fares from Orbitz.com and Amtrak.com leaving
on June 1). But honestly, who cares about an extra $10.20
when you get the opportunity to see a parts of America
that people often pass by.
Riding the train offers more than just an adventure.
In a time of rocketing airline ticket prices, Amtrak's
rate have not increased since at least 2007, when I
paid exactly $193 for my ticket. Airlines are not only
charging more for tickets but have imposed drastic baggage
restrictions. Many airlines now charge you to check
even one bag. Not Amtrak. Amtrak's baggage policy allows
each passenger to carry on two items, and check three
more at no extra charge. One top of that, you can check
three more bags for only $10 each! This is a great thing
for students like myself who are trying to move across
the country, and don't want to buy all new things once
they reach their destination.
If you have a few extra days, consider riding a train
across the country. The scenery is beautiful, the people
are friendly, and train food is much better than airplane
food! When it comes to your destination, getting there
is half the fun.