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Jul 22, 2016

6 min. read

To avoid the long drive south, but still get there with your car, take the Amtrak Auto Train, the longest passenger train in the world.

The route operates non-stop year-round between Lorton, Virginia—just outside Washington, D.C.—and Sanford, Florida, about 30 minutes north of Orlando.

Cars, vans, motorcycles, SUVs or small boats are stored safely in a closed carrier allowing you to stretch your legs and travel through the night while getting a good sleep.

The first-on and first-off rule does not apply on this trip, and it may take a while to retrieve your vehicle at the end of the journey. If you anticipate being in a rush, you can pay a small additional fee when you book, which will give you priority service.

For the trip itself, you can reserve a spot in coach with reclining seats, the least expensive option. For a bit of privacy, opt for a roomette, a small space with bunk beds for two people (be aware that agility is required to get into the upper bunk).

There are also two-person bedrooms, which include a bathroom with a shower, or family bedrooms that sleep up to two adults and two children. Rooms for the disabled are also available. It’s best to book as early as possible on amtrak.com to ensure availability.

Once on board, explore your surroundings before enjoying a three-course dinner and a movie. The Auto Train operates on tracks that are owned and used by regular freight trains, so expect some rocking and rolling.

After travelling through the night, you will be woken at 7 a.m. for a light continental breakfast. An update will likely be given about your arrival time (typically about 9:30 a.m., just over 17 hours from departure) and the weather in Sanford. Start to get excited about your Florida adventure while you enjoy the last of the train trip. All in all, it’s a nice way to travel.

If you decide to skip the train and drive all the way, check out these must-see spots along the way.

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