Inexpensive Weekend Get-Away’s: Train Rides

Posted by in Articles, personal finance | 5 comments

I’ve always been fascinated with trains. I’m sure that part of that interest stems from our country’s history of westward expansion brought upon by the Transcontinental Railroad and it’s meeting point at Promontory, UT, or maybe it’s because I’m distantly related to the infamous train robbers and outlaws Frank and Jesse James. Either way, I enjoy traveling by train (legally that is.) Short train rides up to a seaside city or through an orchard satisfy my train indulgence, and it’s an inexpensive way to travel quickly and comfortably.

A City by the Sea

I’m lucky to live on the Pacific Coast and can catch a local train that can transport me within an hour or three to Santa Barbara or San Diego. Not only is the view spectacular, it’s easy to haul my bikes on the train’s normally empty baggage compartment. Train travel is really comfortable compared with plane travel; the seats are large and spacious and there’s plenty of leg room. You can also walk around the cars to stretch your legs.

My last Amtrak trip cost under $75 for two people and took about the same amount of time as it would have by car. It also allowed me to take my bikes. And it was great not having to worry about parking or enjoying a few drinks relieving me of worrying about who would be the designated driver.

Scenic Train Rides

Another great train option not far from my home is theme based scenic train rides. About an hour north of me is a town called Fillmore. The town itself is nothing to boast about, but its one tourist attraction are its trains. Most of the trains are historic and offer hour rides, three hour rides, and theme based dinners. Last Fourth of July I took an hour train ride in an open-air compartment through an orchard. It was a great way to see the mountains and valley and a fun afternoon activity. Throughout the year they also offer theme based dinners; both mystery and holiday train rides.

Cross Country Tours

An option I’ve looked into, but unfortunately don’t have the time for, is cross country train trips. Instead of flying to New York or Chicago, I could take a 2- to 3-day train trip instead. It’s much more comfortable, however the drawback is it isn’t any cheaper than flying and takes more time. But, for those with flight anxiety, it could offer a comfortable alternative.

Have you traveled by train? What are the benefits or disadvantages?


Join the conversation and post a comment.

  1. MoneyCone

    That’s actually an awesome idea! I’ve been wanting to take my kid on Amtrak, but don’t want to take a long trip since everyone I talk to tell me about how bad Amtrak is with keeping time!

    But this is definitely on my todo list!

  2. Little House

    @MoneyCone -Sorry you read a half-baked post. My server went down mid-way through posting and I couldn’t edit the rest! As for train travel, I love Amtrak. I took a train to Santa Barbara and it was a great way to relax and enjoy the view. I was also able to easily take my bikes in the empty cargo compartment. You should definitely check it out!

  3. Marcia @Frugal Healthy Simple

    Hey! Found your blog from a comment you made on another blog. Can’t remember which one (so many clicks…)

    Anyway, Amtrak. My MIL and a friend came to visit a couple of years ago on Amtrak. All the way from upstate NY to Santa Barbara. They went the north route via Chicago, Montana, and Oregon (had some friends and family along the way). They enjoyed it so much that my husband, child (then 3 I think) and I took the train from Santa Barbara to just south of Santa Fe, NM to visit friends.

    It was nice and very comfortable, except for the fact that it was a 24 hour trip. We plan on taking the train this winter from NW Pennsylvania to Upstate NY when we are back there visiting family. At $135 for 3, it’s way cheaper than renting a car.

    • Little House

      @Marcia – Thanks for sharing your cross-country Amtrak story! I think it would be a great way to travel in lieu of a car trip. My husband and I have relatives in AZ and have looked into taking the train instead of driving. Our only concern was that Amtrak went to Flagstaff and then a bus would take us to the Phoenix area. Maybe they’ve added new routes since I last looked, but it would be a more comfortable alternative, most definitely.

  4. Moneycone

    @Little House Hey no problem LH! Glad everything’s back to normal.

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