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.
Small Business Deals
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.
|Aspect||Tips and Recommendations||Insights||Considerations||Benefits||Challenges||Alternatives|
|Researching Routes||- Review Amtrak's 30+ routes.||- Diverse route options in the U.S.||- Some routes may be indirect.||Access to a wide network of destinations.||Longer travel times compared to air travel.||Domestic flights, car rentals, buses.|
|Online Ticket Booking||- Purchase tickets online for deals.||- Online booking often offers savings.||- Pricing can vary; compare options.||Convenient access to ticket booking.||Dependency on internet access.||Phone booking, ticket kiosks.|
|Seating Flexibility||- Be flexible with seat assignments.||- Seat assignments may change.||- Adapt to changing seat allocations.||Increased chance of sitting with colleagues.||Potential for last-minute changes in seating.||Fixed seat assignments.|
|Coach or Business Class||- Choose coach for economy, business for comfort.||- Coach for cost savings, business for amenities.||- Seat type affects your experience.||Enhanced comfort and working space in business class.||Budget constraints may limit business class.||Consistent comfort in coach class.|
|Onboard Wi-Fi||- Access complimentary onboard Wi-Fi.||- Stay connected while traveling.||- Bandwidth may vary by route.||Internet access for work and communication.||Limited bandwidth for data-intensive tasks.||Offline work and entertainment.|
|Personal Hotspot||- Use a personal hotspot for high-bandwidth tasks.||- Reliable connection for demanding tasks.||- Additional device and data costs.||Ensures a strong and dedicated internet connection.||Additional expenses for personal hotspot.||Onboard Wi-Fi or offline work.|
|Quiet Car for Work||- Use the quiet car for focused work.||- Minimal distractions for productivity.||- Check for quiet car availability.||An ideal environment for concentrated work tasks.||Adherence to quiet car rules is essential.||Other train cars for work or relaxation.|
Stay Informed About Train Services
- Check for Service Updates: Stay up-to-date with any service changes or disruptions that may affect your journey. Subscribe to Amtrak alerts or follow their social media channels for real-time updates.
- Consider Amtrak Rewards Programs: Explore Amtrak’s loyalty programs, such as Amtrak Guest Rewards, which can provide additional benefits, discounts, and exclusive offers for frequent travelers.
- Travel During Off-Peak Hours: If flexibility allows, consider traveling during off-peak hours when train fares may be more budget-friendly, and trains are less crowded.
- Pack Light and Efficiently: Train travel typically offers more relaxed baggage policies than air travel. Pack efficiently to avoid overpacking and make your journey more comfortable.
- Plan Ahead for Meals: While many trains have dining options, it’s a good idea to plan your meals in advance. Consider bringing snacks and drinks to enjoy during the journey.
- Connect With Fellow Travelers: Train travel often provides opportunities to connect with fellow passengers. Strike up conversations and network with potential business contacts during your trip.
- Respect Quiet Zones: Some trains have designated quiet zones where passengers can work or relax in a peaceful environment. Be mindful of these areas and keep noise to a minimum.
- Explore Scenic Routes: Depending on your destination, consider choosing scenic train routes that offer breathtaking views and a unique travel experience.
- Use Travel Apps: Besides Amtrak’s app, consider using travel apps for navigation, accommodation bookings, and finding local attractions at your destination.
- Arrive Early for Boarding: Arriving early ensures a stress-free boarding process, especially if you need assistance or have specific seating preferences.
- Review Amtrak’s Accessibility Services: If you have special requirements or accessibility needs, review Amtrak’s services to ensure a comfortable and accommodating journey.
- Stay Safe and Secure: Just like any travel experience, prioritize safety and security. Keep an eye on your belongings, use lockers when available, and be cautious when disembarking at stations.
- Enjoy the Journey: Train travel can be an enjoyable and relaxing experience. Take the opportunity to unwind, enjoy the scenery, and make the most of your business trip.
|Aspect||Tips and Recommendations||Insights|
|Service Updates||- Subscribe to Amtrak alerts and social media for updates.||- Stay informed about any disruptions.|
|Rewards Programs||- Explore Amtrak Guest Rewards for traveler benefits.||- Loyalty programs offer perks.|
|Off-Peak Travel||- Consider off-peak hours for budget-friendly fares.||- Less crowded trains during off-peak.|
|Efficient Packing||- Pack efficiently for a more comfortable journey.||- Relaxed baggage policies on trains.|
|Meal Planning||- Plan meals and bring snacks for convenience.||- Ensure you have sustenance onboard.|
|Networking Opportunities||- Connect with fellow travelers during the trip.||- Network with potential contacts.|
|Quiet Zones||- Respect designated quiet zones for work or relaxation.||- Create a peaceful environment onboard.|
|Scenic Routes||- Consider scenic routes for a unique travel experience.||- Enjoy breathtaking views en route.|
|Travel Apps||- Utilize travel apps for navigation and accommodations.||- Enhance travel planning and convenience.|
|Early Boarding||- Arrive early for stress-free boarding and seating.||- Secure preferred seating and assistance.|
|Accessibility Services||- Review Amtrak's services for special accessibility needs.||- Ensure comfort for all passengers.|
|Safety and Security||- Prioritize safety, secure belongings, and stay vigilant.||- Maintain a safe and enjoyable journey.|
|Enjoyment of the Journey||- Take time to relax, unwind, and appreciate the scenery.||- Make the most of your business trip.|
Train travel presents a compelling and often overlooked option for business trips. Its unique advantages of cost-effectiveness, comfort, and the opportunity for relaxation set it apart from traditional air travel. By following the comprehensive guide provided here, you can make the most of your train journey for business purposes.
From researching routes and securing deals to utilizing business class amenities and staying informed about services, these tips empower you to navigate the world of train travel seamlessly. Embrace flexibility, whether it’s in seating assignments, ticket bookings, or choosing between coach and business class.
Moreover, by considering roomettes or private bedrooms for overnight trips, optimizing your connectivity with onboard Wi-Fi and personal hotspots, and being well-prepared with chargers and essentials, you can ensure a productive and enjoyable journey. Don’t forget to explore the scenic routes and network with fellow travelers, as train travel fosters unique opportunities for connection and relaxation.
Lastly, prioritize safety, stay informed about service updates, and explore Amtrak’s rewards programs for added benefits. With careful planning and these practical tips, train travel can transform your business trips into memorable and efficient experiences. So, hop on board, enjoy the journey, and make the most of your next business adventure by train.
Train Travel Photo via Shutterstock
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