The Auto Train, which travels between Lorton, Virginia, and Sanford, Florida, is the longest passenger train in the world, with two engines and 40-plus passenger rail cars and vehicle carriers.
by Margaret Lomenzo
On February 13, 2008, my family and I took the Auto Train to Sanford, Florida. There were seven of us onboard: myself, a senior citizen; three of my grandchildren, ages 11, 6 and 5; my son, his friend and an 18-month-old baby.
Since we are not plane people, we decided to take the Auto Train instead of a road trip to Orlando. Much to our surprise, we had a very pleasant trip. It was an amazing alternative to driving, as the children were able to get up and move around. It was especially great since the baby didn't have to be strapped in a car seat. The only drawback was we arrived in Florida an hour-and-a-half later then expected.
We had Coach tickets and had plenty of room to spread out, as the train wasn't full. We took a small ice chest, which I found later we really didn't need since there were snacks and drinks available throughout the trip. We also took along two DVD players and the children got to watch movies — there were electric outlets to plug in to at every seat. The kids were well-behaved and liked the train experience. However, I would suggest taking along your own pillows for sleeping.
We chose the 7 pm dinner service, since we didn't want to eat right after boarding the train. The food was decent and included with dinner rolls and dessert. There was even wine served with our dinner. In the morning we had a breakfast of bagels, cereal, juice, muffins, fruit and coffee.
When we arrived in Florida, we had only a short wait for our van and we were on our way to a magical vacation.
The trip home was just as pleasant, only we arrived in Virginia an hour-and-a-half ahead of schedule. We had to wait a little longer for our vehicle, but we also arrived in Sanford later then we planned because I got the driver lost with my directions.
We would definitely do this trip again. For someone who hates flying, it is a much less stressful way to travel. It takes longer, but you don't have the mess with baggage checking and all that other mess at the airport.