Business travel doesn’t require your plans to be up in the air — in a plane that is. Traveling by train can actually be more economical and comfortable in some situations. But it’s a totally different experience. So if you’re interested in utilizing train travel for your next business trip, check out the tips below first.
Traveling by Train for Business
Research the Available Routes
Amtrak has more than 30 train routes that go to and from various locations in the U.S. And in some cases, there may be more than one way for you to get to a particular location, though some are more direct than others. So take a look at the schedule and routes well before you need to actually travel so you can make the best decision.
Look for Deals Online
You can also purchase tickets directly online, as well as by phone and at Amtrak stations. But if you buy online, you can sometimes get access to better deals than you would otherwise. So try to plan ahead and compare prices online.
Buy Separate Tickets for Stop-Offs
Depending on your plans, you might want to take a train to one location, stop for a day or so, then take a train to another location from there. This is absolutely possible. But you do need to buy separate tickets so you can be sure your entire trip is covered.
Use Business Class Lounges
Some train stations offer business class lounges where priority customers can relax and access wifi and comfortable working space. So if you arrive for your trip a bit early, take advantage of those spaces to get some work done while you wait.
While traveling by train can be comfortable and cost effective, it’s not the quickest mode of transportation. And even the scheduled arrival times don’t always come to pass. So don’t schedule a trip if it leaves you arriving just an hour before a bit meeting. It’s best to arrive a little earlier just to be safe.
Get a Rail Pass for Frequent Travel
Amtrak offers a rail pass that can help you save money if you travel frequently. So if you plan on taking trains for business trips multiple times per year, it’s worth looking into as a cost saving measure.
Use Points to Purchase Tickets
You can also sign up for Amtrak’s Guest Rewards program that can help you earn points that you can redeem for future travels. So if you travel by train regularly, it can be worth it to sign up for an account and then use your points for future purchases.
Save Time With Mobile Ticketing
Amtrak also offers mobile apps for Apple, Android and Amazon devices. So you can download the app and use it to purchase and show your tickets. This can help you streamline the entire booking and boarding process.
Be Flexible With Seating Assignments
When you book a trip, you can get your confirmation right away. But Amtrak normally assigns seats once each train is booked before assigning seats. So if you plan on traveling by train, it’s best to be a little flexible about where you sit.
Book Together if Traveling With Colleagues
If you are traveling with others, that means you should book your tickets together so you can ensure you actually get seated together.
Reserve Coach for Economical Travel
There are a few different options when traveling by train. Coach is the most popular and economical option. If you’re taking a relatively short trip and want to save money, this is probably the best option.
Upgrade to Business Class for Meetings, Working Space
However, there is also a business class option. If you want a bit more room and want to be sure you get access to a full desktop and outlets, you can opt for a business class seat instead.
Consider Roomettes When Traveling Overnight
If you’re taking a lengthier trip where you’ll be traveling overnight, you can certainly stick with a coach seat. But if you’re looking for something a little more roomy, you can opt for a roomette. However, most roomettes are made for two. So it’s mainly an option for those traveling with their significant others.
Get a Bedroom for More Comfort
Or you could opt for a private bedroom for even more space and privacy. This option is best if you’re looking for a really comfortable experience when traveling across the country.
Take Advantage of Onboard Wifi
Most trains to offer complimentary wifi on board. So if you’re just looking to browse the internet or send emails when you travel, you can take advantage of that feature.
Use a Hotspot for High Bandwidth Functions
However, the onboard wifi doesn’t include high bandwidth functions like music streaming. So if you need to do anything that requires a stronger connection, it could be worth investing in a personal hotspot.
Remember Your Chargers
Most seats, especially those in business class, also have access to electrical outlets. And there are some in common areas as well. So remember to bring chargers for all your devices so you can stay powered up while you travel.
Check Large Bags
If you’re taking a long trip, you’ll probably bring a decent sized bag, which you can check so that it won’t take up all the space in your seating area.
Keep Essentials With You
However, you can bring a small bag with your most important items like your laptop and any important documents you might need to reference if you’re working while you travel.
Book a Table for Meals
In the food car, you can book a table to ensure that you have seating reserved for all meals. If you’re traveling with others, you can sit at a private table. Or you can allow the staff to sit you with others on board so you can socialize.
Hang Out in the Bar Car
There’s also a bar car on most trains that offers comfortable seating and refreshments to help make your trip more enjoyable.
Head to the Quiet Car to Work
Or if you’re looking to really focus and get some work done in transit, check to see if your train has a quiet car where you can go to work without having to worry about loud distractions around you.
Prepare for Varied Temperatures
No matter where you’re traveling, it’s a good idea to pack some layers in your carry-on bag so you can be prepared for any temperature, since train cars don’t necessarily go along with the outside temperatures.
Take Breaks at Rest Stops
As your train makes its way to your destination, it’s going to make several stops. But not all of them are actually rest stops. Some are just stops where the train is picking up more passengers and then immediately departing. So check the schedule so you can know where it’s safe to get off and stretch your legs a bit.
Map the Trip from Station to Hotel
Many train stations are located in downtown areas. So you can potentially make it to your hotel or meeting spot quickly. But it’s still a good idea to map it out before you get there so you know if it’s possible to walk or if you need a taxi or public transportation.
Train Travel Photo via Shutterstock