Atlanta is not a hub for passenger rail; it is in fact only a dot on a singular route (The Crescent) running from New Orleans to Washington DC. But I love train travel, overnight transit options, and whirlwind trips. So I have been spending a considerable amount of time poking around Amtrak.com and related sites in search of a way to make Atlanta’s scant rail offerings into an exciting BlinkPack to one of the nation’s greatest cities.
It so happens that the northbound train departs Atlanta at 8:00 pm, arriving the next morning in Baltimore and DC, and arriving later that day in New York City. These are some serious destinations, and definitely worthy of the BlinkPacking adventurer.
Here’s the rub: A one-way ticket to New York City costs around $176 for a coach seat — more by far than coach bus and likely a greater price tag than jet travel. But I have built overnight train travel into somewhat of a poetic notion. So what is this cheapskate to do?
For starters, I have found that Amtrak offers unpredictable discounts, available online and without much notice, for certain routes. Looks like I need to keep an eagle eye on that portion of the site and keep a bag packed and ready to go at a moment’s notice. In addition, some slightly skeevy characters sell ticket vouchers on CraigsList and eBay for less than half the tickets’ face values.
You will know If I can manage to find a round-trip ticket for around $150, because if I do, you will eventually be reading about the trek right here at the BlinkPacking blog. So stay tuned for tales of a springtime rail ride to one of our nation’s greatest cities. Here’s hoping!
If you have ever traveled by rail in the US, I want to hear about it. And if you have any tips about sourcing cheapskate tickets on Amtrak, please post your thoughts in the comment section below.