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Inside of the Palmetto Business Class Car

Planning of my first trip of 2019, part 2

Charleston, S.C. to Florida

Recap of this series

If you are interested in what I packed for this trip, check out Part One, the basics.

Recap of what is going on in the section

As you might remember, while my family enjoys Disney, Abby and I will hold the fort down for a week.

My brother-in-law will be flying back on the Saturday of that week, so I might drive his dream sports car to pick him up from the airport. I am a little nervous about this because it is his “baby.”

According to an Inc.com article, South Carolina drivers are known for careless driving and speeding. From my experience, they don’t understand how to merge and don’t realize that turn signals aren’t an invasion of their privacy.

The V-8 has a few more horses under the hood than my four-cylinder Saturn. I know I can handle the eight-mile drive.

I wouldn’t be upset if he decided to get an Uber or Lyft.

The dilemma

I have three train routes from Charleston, S.C., to Kissimmee, FL.

Amtrak Coffee
Coffee from Amtrak’s Cafe Car
  • Option one
    • Downside
      • The Meteor leaves at 4:50 am.
      • My brother-in-law probably won’t want to get up that early, especially after he just got home the night before, but I know he would
    • Upside
      • The fastest way is on the Silver Meteor (the train I took to Charleston)
  • Option two
  • Downside
    • Three times longer and two layovers
    • Times that work for everyone
      • Late morning departure and early afternoon arrival
  • Plus side
    • I get to ride two trains I have never down before
    • The pauses are decent and not too long.
    • Extra points are available if I book a business class ticket on either of the first two trains.
  • Option Three
    • Downside
      • Only one layover, BUT  it is an overnight seven-plus hour layover in Savannah, GA, from 9 pm to 4 am (rounded times)
      • Not a fan of overnight station stays like that; they are too short or economical for a hotel.
    • Upside
      • On paper, this trip sounds good,
    • Late departure 7:19 pm
    • I would get to Kissimmee simultaneously as the second option, but I would have more time with Abby.

What did I pick?

I did pick the second choice, the longest one. This route gives me more train and solo time before spending five nights with six adults and a baby in an RV and visiting a busy park filled with many people and fantasy.

Option two route

Train one: The Palmetto

Amtrak in CHS
The Silver Meteor arriving at Charleston, SC
  • The Palmetto runs from New York, NY, to Savana, GA
    • My travels are from Charleston, S.C., to Wilson, N.C.
    • My run time was 4 hours 24 minutes
    • Miles: 252
    • Single level equipment
  • Accommodations
  • Food
  • Route note, I rode the Palmetto last year from Philadelphia to Charleston, S.C.

 First layover

My first layover is in Wilson, N.C., at a 1920’s train station. The wait time is about an hour and a half, enough time to stretch my legs and get some fresh air. Maybe get a snack if there is something close.

Train two: The Carolinian

  • The Carolinian runs from New York, NY, to Charollet, NC
    • My section is from Wilson, N.C., to Raleigh, N.C.
    • My run time: 1 hour 13 minute
    • Miles: 55 mile
    • Single level equipment
  • Accommodations
    • Reserved coach
    • Business-class
  • Food
    • Cafe car
  • Route note: This is a new route for me, and this journey is the shortest route of this whole adventure. This part takes longer than the 63-mile Hiawatha route I rode to start this trip. Primarily due to a few more stops.

Layover two

Raleigh, N.C., is my next rest break, not that I need one after a less than an hour train trip. During the almost 3 hours 30-minute hiatus, I plan on grabbing some food at a local restaurant and maybe a drink.

There was a change of route times since I booked the trip, but it doesn’t affect me much because it’s in the middle of the journey and only 10 minutes.

During my time on the ground, I might be meeting up with a few Amtrak fans and Travels with Kev followers!

On the ground is a term that trains (and other travelers) use to talk about the time, not on a train, bus, or plane, but physically on the ground.

Last train: The Silver Star

Viewliner Hallway
The view you get looking down the hallway of a Viewliner Sleeper car.

The Silver Star is one of the remaining Amtrak long-distance trains I have not been on; after this trip, the AutoTrain will be the only long-distance train I have yet to ride! The problem with that one is you need a car to ride the train (and I don’t feel like driving Diane (my car) out there).

  • The Star runs daily from New York, NY, to Miami, FL (Similar to the Meteor but splits from the Meteor route around Selma, N.C., to travel inland and join the Meteor Route around Savannah, GA.)
    • My section Raleigh, N.C. to Kissimmee, FL
    • My run time: 13 hours 43 minutes
    • Miles: 611
  • Accommodations
    • Reserved Coach class
    • Viewliner Sleepers
  • Food
    • Cafe car
    • This train DOES NOT HAVE A DINING CAR.
  • I will have a roomette on this train.

Why Kissimmee and not Orlando?

When people think of Disney, the City of Orlando comes to mind, and it did for me too. Disney provides transportation to the park from the airport but does not offer the same service from Kissimmee or Orlando Amtrak Stations.

Amtrak Train
Amtrak train pulling into Orlando, FL.

The ticket price between the two stations is minimum, like a dollar, but when I looked closer, rideshares were cheaper from Kissimmee to the park than Orlando (at least at the time I was booking). My original plan was to rideshare to the park.

I departed from the Orlando Station a few years ago, but I have never been to Kissimmee before, so that was part of the decision.

I can take a city bus to the park or a short Sunrail trip up to Orlando and then a bus to the park. There are enough fun options, but the final decision will be made the day I arrive because you have to be flexible with travel.

If I take Sunrail, I can use my ticket for one bus transfer, and that is all I would need.

At Mouse Land

While I am there, I am letting the experts in my family guide me, but if you have any suggestions, let me know!

I am looking forward to riding the monorail while I am there.

If you are looking to plan a trip, there is a blogger/vlogger you should check out, Disney Food Blog. They provide information on both Disney parks and cover more than just the park’s food.

Going back by Abby aka (back to Charleston)

Abby and I
Abby and I are posing for the camera!

They wanted me to come down to help drive back with my sister since my brother-in-law was flying home due to work. It is easier with the baby aboard if someone can take care of her as someone else drives.

Things changed after this original plan, for our mother is now riding back with us. She is staying with my sister for and family a few weeks before they drive her back home.

I will be in Charleston for a few days before heading home to Wisconsin, and the plans for that are in the next post.

Wrap up

If you want to know what I am packing, check out Part One, which has the basics.

I hope this post encourages you to travel by rail, air, or other.

Thanks for reading about my planning for this trip. I hope that it might help you plan your trip. If you want more information on traveling on Amtrak, check out my Amtrak travel page.

Safe Travels!
Kev

Kev

Kev has been traveling with Amtrak since 2012, celebrating his tenth year this year. Over those years, he has been on over 700 trains covering over 200,000 miles of rail. Kev enjoys helping others achieve their travel dreams by assisting them to get started. Kev enjoys making music as an organist.

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