Instead of taking a plane or a bus from Virginia to New Jersey, I rode a 10-hour Amtrak train.
The seats were comfortable, but there were no seat belts or armrests in the middle of the rows.
I enjoyed being able to eat my own snacks, walk around, and use free Wi-Fi throughout the trip.
I paid $45 for my ticket on a 10-hour train from Virginia to New Jersey.
If I'm being honest, I've never been much of a traveler.
Plane rides give me headaches, and long car rides make me sick. So when I learned about the option to take a 10-hour train ride from Roanoke, Virginia, to Newark, New Jersey, for $45, I decided it was worth a shot.
I was nervous and didn't know what to expect going into the trip. But as we pulled out of the station, the conductor deemed our ride "The Good Vibes Express," and I was able to take a deep breath and enjoy everything Amtrak had to offer.
Here are seven things that surprised me about the experience.
The seats were more comfortable than I expected, but there weren't any seat belts or middle armrests.
Bus and plane seats are usually small, and unless you want to pay an arm and a leg for an upgrade, you're often stuck in an incredibly uncomfortable seat.
However, the train's seats were extremely large and cushiony. They even reclined a little bit.
Even though the seats were comfortable, they were missing a couple of features. They didn't have any seat belts, nor did they have any middle armrests.
When another passenger sat in the seat next to me, it felt like we were cuddling a little bit too closely.
Each section of seats had its own outlets, but the ones on my side of the train didn't work.
I brought all of my electronics onboard to stay busy during my ride, so I was ecstatic to find out that the train had outlets for each set of seats. That is, until I tried to use one.
Unfortunately, the outlets on my side of the train did not work.
A kind passenger sitting on the other side of the train let me charge my phone while my laptop charged on the portable battery I brought as a backup energy source.
The train had a fairly reliable Wi-Fi connection, so I was able to stay entertained throughout the journey.
Another thing I did to prep for my trip was downloading plenty of movies, TV shows, and podcasts to make sure I was thoroughly entertained the entire time.
I immediately saw that there was Wi-Fi on the train, which was wonderful. I was worried that the connection would be unreliable and spotty, but it ended up being pretty good.
I was able to stream a movie without having too many problems. It did get a little slow and spotty in certain areas, but it was strong when we were at the stations.
The train ran on schedule and only stopped at each station for several minutes.
When we stopped at each station, we were only there for a few short minutes. If you weren't on the platform ready to board the train when we pulled up, you probably weren't going to get on.
I liked that the train ran true to schedule because being late makes me feel anxious. It also helped the person who was picking me up from the station in Newark stay up to date on my location.
We stopped for an hour in Washington DC, giving me an opportunity to stretch my legs.
When the train arrived in DC, I expected us to stop for the same amount of time as we did at all the other stations.
However, the conductor announced that we would stop for an hour and were welcome to walk around.
I was so happy I could get out and stretch my legs after spending five hours in my seat. Getting a little fresh air after wearing a mask the whole time was nice too.
I was able to save money by packing my own snacks.
I'm always looking for ways to save some money. So after someone told me I could bring my own snacks on the train, I packed an entire bag full of them.
I was worried I'd get yelled at for having my own food, however, no one said anything since Amtrak allows passengers to bring their own food and beverages on the train.
Other people brought entire meals, and I even saw one person making cocktails a few seats away, though I'm not totally sure the latter was allowed.
I preferred traveling by train over flying or taking a bus.
I'm not someone who travels well. I don't like long car rides, and I hate crowded planes. So, I was worried that I'd hate my train ride to New Jersey.
Not only was I concerned that the train would be overcrowded, but I also worried that I'd feel bored or experience motion sickness.
I was pleasantly surprised when I got the chance to walk around, eat foods I liked, and stay entertained for all 10 hours.
It was great to realize that I can travel comfortably without spending too much money. The train was engaging, fun, and different from any other travel experience I'd had.
I can't wait to take another long train ride.
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