On That Midnight Train to Newport News

My parents, to their great credit, are the frugal-est of frugal. They take pride in this, too, always retelling us the story of when they put seltzer water in prune juice and gave it to my sister and I as Coca-Cola. It’s hilarity at its finest. I won’t muddle you with any more details about my deprived childhood without soda, but expecting to have the keys to a car placed in my hands before my first year of college would have been a fool’s joke. It’s character-building, after all.

There were only a few downsides to not having a vehicle, however—not having a way to get to the Williamsburg Outlets sure saved me a lot of money. And when I wanted a burrito from Chipotle, it wasn’t too difficult to find a person to accompany me. But the real trouble was when holiday seasons would creep across my calendar, leaving questions as to how I was going to get home. I tried carpooling once, but was completely put off by the driver’s lack of road-savvy and texting-while-driving habits.

All that for $20 worth of gas? No, thank you! Plus, traffic on I-64 is seriously no fun. (Quick advice: if you’re ever leaving for home, save yourself the trouble and go in the morning!)

My solution, which I ended up using throughout my freshman and sophomore years, was the Amtrak train located about five minutes from campus. I ended up taking the train so many times that the ticket collectors actually began to recognize me. All the same, there is really no other more convenient, reliable and comfortable way to travel than by train. And when you have an entire row of seats to yourself—heaven! I mean, you can’t exactly sleep or do your homework when driving, can you?

Getting a round-trip ticket is a cinch too. All you do is go online, put in your departure and return dates, and then select the time you’d like to leave. In terms of price, I really didn’t lose any more than I would spend on gas from Newport News to Northern Virginia.

So if you don’t have a car, no fear: Amtrak is here!

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