Amtrak was my vehicle of choice today as I traveled solo to visit family in the Orlando area. I picked up several money-saving tips while traveling.
1. Compare prices. My round trip fare from Miami was cheaper than Greyhound and more comfortable than a bus ride. The round trip fare was also cheaper than auto travel if I consider: gas, tolls and the wear-and-tear on our temperamental minivan.
2. Find discounts. I could have saved more by using our AAA membership discount. But the discount applies only if the trip is booked at least three days in advance. There are other discounts for seniors, students, and frequent travelers. It pays to ask.
3. Don't overpack the bags. I traveled with gifts, which were stuffed into a large suitcase. Bad move. The porter told me that my suitcase was 20 pounds overweight. I had to pay $2 extra for a box and in the station, I had to repack and repackage my bundles. What a pain.
4. Budget your time for delays. The train left on time, but arrived two hours late.
5. Pack earphones. My seatmate had a portable DVD player, with a great selection of films, including Pride & Prejudice. I watched in silence (with her approval) and I could have plugged in to listen if I had brought along my own earphones. DVD players were popular items and Amtrak has outlets near each set of seats.
6. Don't drink the coffee. I wasted $1.75 on a cup of horrible coffee. The server was kind but the coffee was a waste of cream and sugar. Amtrak should outsource its coffee bar to Starbucks.
7. Bring work. I worked on a book review and assorted other projects while traveling on the train.
8. Relax & look out the window.
9. Bring your own snacks.
10. Check online for discounts and promotions at www.amtrak.com And when traveling with kids, ask for special rates and give-aways at the ticket counter. In past trips, my kids have received a few cute gifts from Amtrak.
The Frugal Duchess Booktique
The Frugal Duchess of Beauty Store
Book Shop of Fear
The Poetry & Drama Queen
Frugal Jazz & Blues