1. Home
  2. life
  3. news
  4. I moved using the Amtrak Auto Train, where you bring your car with you. The 17-hour ride went by fast and we avoided tons of traffic.

I moved using the Amtrak Auto Train, where you bring your car with you. The 17-hour ride went by fast and we avoided tons of traffic.

Aleah Wright   

I moved using the Amtrak Auto Train, where you bring your car with you. The 17-hour ride went by fast and we avoided tons of traffic.
  • My mom and I spent 17 hours on the Amtrak Auto Train from Florida to Virginia when I was in college.
  • I saved time and stress by not having to drive 900 miles and had access to Wi-Fi and roomy seats.

My mother and I took the Amtrak Auto Train back in August 2017 when I was in college and needed a way to move all my belongings and bring my car with me from Florida to Virginia.

When it comes to traveling from Florida to Virginia, the Amtrak Auto Train is one of the best ways to get around. By riding the Auto Train, I saved over 900 miles on my car and skipped all of the traffic on Interstate 95.

So, we packed my car up and took the 17-hour ride from Sanford, Florida, to Lorton, Virginia.

Here's what taking the Amtrak Auto Train was like and why I think it's worth every penny.

Before the trip, I tried to get the best ticket price I could

Taking the Amtrak Auto Train cost me a fraction of what it would've been to ship my car, and this way, I had access to Wi-Fi and ample legroom.

When it came to purchasing tickets for the Amtrak Auto Train, I tried to pick the cheapest option, which was in the coach section. A coach ticket from Sanford, Florida, to Lorton, Virginia, currently costs about $100 to $120, and loading a standard vehicle costs $510.

I've noticed that the earlier you book, the cheaper the tickets usually are. And if you need to change the date of your trip, Amtrak doesn't charge a ticket-change fee.

I also took the opportunity to join the Amtrak Guest Rewards program early on so I earn points from all my trips. So far, I've accumulated 2,500 points, which is enough to upgrade my seat by one class.

We loaded the car with my college essentials and drove to the station

Per Amtrak's instructions, I packed my car like a suitcase, distributing the weight of my belongings by placing heavier comforters, sheets, and pillow sets in the back and lighter toiletries in the front.

Once my car was loaded, my mother and I drove three hours from Miami to the Sanford, Florida, station. We had a window from 12:30 p.m. to 3 p.m. to load our car, so it was important to be on time.

Upon arrival, Amtrak staff members gave us a number to place on our dashboard as well as a numbered ticket to show at the Lorton, Virginia, station. The employees inspected the exterior of my vehicle, taking pictures to document any damage, and loaded my car.

Overall, the process was pretty smooth, and checking in took a little less than half an hour.

I really enjoyed my experience in the coach section

After loading my car, my mom and I made our way over to coach. When I reclined my seat and put the footrest up, it felt like I was lying on a bed, and I had room to bring pillows and blankets.

Each seat on my train also had an outlet to charge electronics and stow-away room for bags underneath the chairs.

I watched some of my favorite Netflix shows to unwind for the night. Eventually, the cabin lights were dimmed and I noticed other passengers falling asleep.

Unloading my car was a pretty simple process

We arrived at the Lorton, Virginia, station around 9 a.m. and headed to the lobby, where Amtrak staff members called out the numbers for our cars on the intercom. During this time, Amtrak employees drove each vehicle off of the train cars down a yellow ramp and pulled up to the lobby driveway for passengers to claim their cars.

The entire process took about an hour, but eventually, my number was called. I gave the Amtrak staff member my ticket so they could make sure I was claiming the correct vehicle. Once everything was verified, we got in the car and started to make our way north.

Our Amtrak trip went by so fast, and loading and unloading my car was pretty simple. Overall, I thought the train ride was worth the landscape views and the time we saved by not dealing with traffic on I-95.

This story was originally published on October 18, 2023, and most recently updated on May 8, 2024.

Popular Right Now