True story: Nearly every year from age five well into my teens, I would ride the Amtrak Auto Train with my family from Lorton, Virginia, to Sanford, Florida, a roughly 17-hour overnight journey with the promise of hallowed kingdoms just beyond the station. Many Northeasterners call this the “Disney World route,” a budget-friendly way to get your entire brood—and the minivan—down to Orlando. (Sanford and Orlando are just 27 miles apart.) It also appeals to snowbirds who might not want to rent a car.
It’s called Auto Train for a reason: Once you’ve boarded, Amtrak loads your car, van, SUV, motorcycle, even small boats or Jet-Skis onto the train and ferries you all south. You trade 900 miles of driving and arguing for a private room or coach seats (all of which are surprisingly spacious), games of rummy in the club car, seated hot meals, movie night, and an early-morning arrival in much warmer, sunnier Florida. I used to befriend kids my age on the train or sit in the club car with its panoramic window seating for hours, just reading.
Here’s what an Auto Train ride looks like today: For just $19 one-way plus the cost of your vehicle (nonrefundable sale price: May 31–June 8, 2023), coach passengers get a reclining seat, free Wi-Fi, and complimentary continental breakfast; gone are the complimentary dinners, but there’s a café where you can buy hot and fresh meals, snacks, and beverages while mingling with fellow passengers. You’re only allowed a carry-on bag in coach; the rest of your luggage will be “stowed” in your car.
Now, this is a flash sale and just for coach tickets in both directions on the route from Sanford, Florida, to Lorton, Virginia. Full-price fares for private Roomettes, which include lie-flat beds and access to private bathrooms in the train car, start at $369. It will cost $510 for a standard vehicle.
Book a ticket between May 31–June 8 to get these discounted coach rates, for travel between June 1–September 4, 2023. (There are no blackout dates.) For more information and to book, go to amtrak.com/AutoTrainSale.
This article was originally published in 2021; it was updated on June 2, 2023, with current sale information.