So, I had a conference in San Diego last month for work (a VA Disability law conference for my work with veterans). Of course, I had to add some Fun Business Travel to the trip! I have been to San Diego several times, so decided not to extend my stay there, but to travel up to Los Angeles after the conference. One of my best friends lives in LA, and I hadn’t seen her in a while. I was planning to rent a car and fight the traffic. My wise friend, however, suggested I take the Amtrak train from San Diego to Los Angeles. GREAT IDEA, which never would have occurred to me!
Now, being from “flyover country,” it is NEVER my first thought to take a train anywhere. I have traveled on a passenger train MAYBE 3 times in my life before this. But, I AM GAME FOR JUST ABOUT ANYTHING TRAVEL-RELATED, so I booked a seat on Amtrak’s Pacific Surfliner. Business Class (since it only cost an additional $17 on the day of travel).
Traveling by train was like air travel, only without so many restrictions. Boarding was simple–line up in order and carry your stuff to the train. Find a seat you like. HINT: I asked another person in the Business Class line, who regularly rides the Surfliner, for advice on where to sit. She made sure I sat on the side of the train that would see the ocean views. She also advised me which seats would face forward instead of backwards. I don’t generally get nauseous, but this was great advice.
Unlike passengers on most airlines, I had free WiFi. Phone calls were allowed, as was texting. I didn’t have to lift my heavy bag into the overhead compartment–they had a special rack in the back of the train car for bigger suitcases. I could get up any time I wanted. Bathrooms and food were available at my whim. My Business Class ticket got me some free food, and we had an attendant who helped with bags, brought food and drink, etc. I could get used to this. And this train had awesome views!
After this comfortable, easy ride (which lasted almost 3 hours), I arrived in LA at Union Station. I had some time to wait for my friend to pick me up, so, because I traveled Business Class, I had access to the Amtrak lounge there. It was a little hard to find, but a great place to relax and eat some free snacks and drink some sparkling water. It was a quiet oasis in Union Station.
My time in LA over the following four days is another fun post, but just let me say that my total transportation for this boondoggle was about $55! Since I went to California on business and had to return from there, my flights were a business expense. I am impressed. For a minimal amount of money, I had this maximum great experience. I am sure there are many complaints from some of you who travel Amtrak on a regular basis, but this was a rare, relaxing travel experience for me.
So, next time you need to get from one place to another, think outside your travel box. There may be an easier way to get from point A to point B, or it just may be more fun!
Alisa Always…Outside Her Travel Box