May 10, 2016

Tips for Better Train Travel (AKA There's Spinach in My Chocolate)

I'm moving to Boston for the summer on Sunday (summer is coming so quickly!) and I'm going to take the Amtrak up again, like last year.

I go/have gone back and forth between NYC and Boston quite often over the years and Amtrak is almost always my choice. It's faster, more reliable, and more comfortable than a bus. It's slower than flying, but if you account for the time spent getting to the airports, which are, unlike train stations, outside of the city, as well as TSA time. It also has less strict limits on the amount of luggage allowed, which is great when the trip will last multi-months and you have to pack a lot.


I would honestly have expected it to be much cheaper than a flight, but it's usually only slightly cheaper. It's still always the overall cheaper option, however, because you can take the subway to the train stations easily whereas airports generally require a cab or Uber ride.

Still, there's no perfect form of transportation. Here are my tips for a better train trip!

Dress in layers.

On some of my Amtrak journeys it has been absolutely freezing the whole time. On other trips, I thought I was in a sauna on wheels. You never know what you'll get, so be sure that you're prepared for anything!

Download movies or upgrade your cellular data.

Amtrak boasts WiFi, but it is S-L-O-O-O-O-O-O-O-O-O-O-O-O-O-O-W. Even if your film would have loaded after a few hours of the swirling circle of doom, streaming sites are blocked due to the limited nature of the WiFi. Amtrak WiFi just can't handle a train full of travelers trying to watch a movie.

Either download a movie (or preferably several) ahead of time, pack DVDs and a laptop with a disk drive, or upgrade your cellular data so that you can turn off your phone's WiFi and watch movies using your own hotspot.

Bring a pillow.

A coat will do, if it's a soft one that you're comfortable bunching up into an impromptu pillow, when you're trying to limit your luggage.

It doesn't matter whether you're someone who can usually sleep on trains or not - I'm not, but it's still nice to have something soft to rest your head on in case you manage to doze off a bit, or even just to be more comfortable and relaxed while you Netflix and chill.

...I know that's not what Netflix and chill means.

Pack whatever medicine you could possibly need.

If you've ever gotten travel sick, pack anti-travel sickness pills. If you've ever felt any kind of pain, pack over-the-counter pain medication. While you'd think they might have these standard items on board, they do not!

Pack snacks.

Sometimes the dining car has pretty solid options. I've enjoyed yummy quinoa salads and great greek yogurt and granola cups. The menu is seasonal and dependent on route however, plus the dining cars are known to run out of popular items at times, so it's good to have enough snacks to tide you over for the trip, just in case.

You don't want to be stuck paying inflated train prices for junk food that you don't even like! I recently tried Appethyl bars and they're perfect for train travel (or any kind of travel).

The bars come in two flavors, Original and Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip. Both are delicious, though the Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip bar was less chocolatey than I had expected.

They're vegan, satisfying, made of natural, healthy ingredients, with ingredients lists that are pretty short for snack bars. Best of all, the 'mystery ingredient,' Appethyl, is actually just natural real food, too - it's spinach!

If you're a fan of fruit and nut bars, as I am, you'll absolutely love these. The spinach is a great bonus, because you can't taste it - they still taste like sweet fruit and nut bars - but you get a healthy serving of dark leafy greens!

Especially when we're traveling, we tend to miss out on eating as many greens as we ought to for optimal health and well being. These bars have the convenience and taste of snack bars, but hide healthy greens. 

I definitely recommend them, whether for travel, work, or random snacking. You can try them yourself for half off through the end of May with this link to a special buy-one-get-one-free offer!

What is your favorite on-the-go snack?

How do you eat healthy when traveling?

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