Holiday Travel on the Cheap - Traveling by Train
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Holiday Travel on the Cheap – Traveling by Train

Posted on Wednesday, November 13th, 2013 at 8:00 am
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To learn how to book your most affordable and enjoyable trip check out our tips below:Unfortunately in the age of planes and automobiles train travel has often been overlooked as a way to go see family and friends during the holiday season. We’re here to urge you to reconsider trains as the way you travel. Not only are trains an easy way to travel with large groups, but they also provide one of the most affordable and environmentally friendly ways to see your loved ones!  To learn how to book your most affordable and enjoyable trip check out our tips below:

How to Travel Frugally by Train

1. Book Early!

This pretty much goes without saying for all of your travel plans, but we’re gonna say it anyway: book your tickets early! If you know your destination and a time frame in which you’d like to travel start checking out tickets immediately. However, before you make your final ticket purchase, be sure to check out Amtrak’s Weekly Specials Page to save up to 25% on your tickets! If your fare isn’t discounted on the Weekly Specials Page check out the variety of other everyday discounts offered to particular Amtrak travelers. Examples of special discounts include tickets for: children, seniors, AAA members, NARP members, and many more!

2. Plan for Comfort

If your destination is more than a day’s worth of train travel it might be a good idea to consider upping the class you travel in. On Amtrak there are three classes of seating: coach, business, and first class (which is available only on certain routes). For coach seating you can choose to reserve your seats or have unreserved seating. This class offers the least amenities, but it is definitely the cheapest. It would be wise if you’re traveling longer distances or with a larger group to reserve seats especially if you’ll be riding during a peak holiday travel periods. As for business class your seats will be reserved and you’ll receive complimentary beverages and newspapers for your trip. First class travelers will get more spacious seating, attendant service, at-seat meal and beverage service,  and extra-large tray tables. If you’re planning on an overnight train trip you need not worry  about sleeping arrangements. Amtrak has a variety of accommodations. For more information check out their sleeping accommodations here.

3. What to Bring on Your Trip

Besides packing the essentials of any trip (clothes, toiletries, etc.) train trips are unique in what you should bring and wear when traveling. Regardless of how long your trip will last it’s always a great idea to bring a meal or some snacks. Food cars on the train will be available, but t anything you buy will be overpriced and options won’t be as healthy as your food from home.  Also, since you’ll most likely be sitting for the majority of your trip, you’ll definitely want to wear comfortable and warm clothing.  If you’re planning on traveling with small children, or maybe you get antsy or bored too, be sure to bring some activities, books, or movies to keep them entertained.

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Good Tip: Saving money is important – especially if you have a lot of expenses like bills to pay, loans to pay off, and all the other things that drain your bank account. Figuring out a way to save money can feel tedious to some, and like a punishment to others. U.S. News suggests that you try one of these money saving challenges. The “No Eating Out for a Month” Challenge This one is self-explanatory. The goal is to avoid eating out for an entire month. This might be super easy for people who enjoy making meals at home. People who really enjoy dining out, or ordering food to be sent to their home, may struggle with this one. It’s worth a try because spending money on take-out is more expensive than buying groceries. The Pantry Challenge This one is a variation of the “No Eating Out for a Month” challenge. The goal is to use up all of your groceries before you buy more. It forces you to try and remember why you bought a food or beverage that you don’t know what to do with, and gives you the opportunity to find a way to use it. The one exemption to this challenge is the foods that have expired. Don’t eat them! Throw them in the trash. The “No Spend” Challenge Make a goal to avoid spending money during an entire weekend. The only exemption in this challenge is that you are allowed to pay bills. This challenge is interesting because it requires creativity. You must be creative and find workarounds for problems that you would typically solve by spending money. You may have a different outlook on spending after finishing this challenge.