a VirtualTourist member from Brisbane asked on Mar 4, 2013
We will be travelling from Australia to NY City in December. Our plan had been to spend 1st night in NY (as our flight doesn't arrive till 4:30pm) then to catch train to Washington DC the next day for 10 nights, then return to NY for 10 nights then fly back to Australia. I am in a quandry as we (3 of us) will each have a large suitcase and a small overnight 'carry on' bag - all with wheels. I have discovered that Amtrak impose baggage restrictions and supposedly the only way we will be able to take this luggage is by booking trains with checked baggage allocation. For travel from NY this gives us 2 options - depart at 3am (Idon't think so) or depart at 7am (maybe doable even though we'll be jet lagged). For travel to NY we have only one option - depart 10pm and arrive at 1am! - not doable. I am astonished by these restrictions as we had no trouble with this luggage in Europe. Are there any other options or train services or do you think we'll have to catch a plane instead? Many thanks in advance.
You might try a bus. There are direct buses (one is called DC2NY) between NY and DC. I have not done this but it seems doable to me.
The trip is about 5 hours. This is what they say about luggage
You may bring a maximum of three pieces of luggage to be stowed in the luggage compartment under the bus. The weight of each piece may not exceed 50 pounds. DC2NY takes no responsibility for lost, damaged, or stolen property. One small carry-on is allowed in the coach if it fits under the seat or in the overhead bin on the bus. Any luggage with wheels must be stored under the bus.
Amtrak is lying!!! Well, not lying, but they definitely don't enforce their baggage rules. If you'll each have a suitcase and a carryon, you'll blend right in. If you're going to be able to make it on a flight from Australia to the US with that baggage, don't worry about getting on to Amtrak with it.
Unfortunately, Amtrak has a monopoly on train travel in the US--especially in the Northeast Corridor--so they're your only train option.
Other bus options are Megabus, Bolt Bus, Peter Pan, and Greyhound--they all have direct buses to DC.
I have taken Amtrak from near DC to near NYC and I had luggage but it was a small wheeled bag and a computer bag and my grandson had a backpack, a violin case and a hard side wheeled bag. We did not have a problem with Amtrak with that luggage, but the train wasn't crowded and my grandson could put our luggage in the overhead rack. On the way back we had even less as they lost his suitcase between Heathrow and Newark.
You need to remember that in Europe many people travel by train so luggage is the norm. In the US hardly anyone travels by train and passenger trains lose money for the company. If you know where you are staying, you could ship your main luggage and then just take your carry-ons and then get on whatever train you wanted.
Any US domestic airline would impose luggage restrictions too; checked bags are charged at $25 per item.
Riding the train is the most convenient option. The train departs from midtown Manhattan and arrives in downtown DC. You will save time & travel costs between airport & hotels.
Have you thought of driving? After your overnight stop in NYC, you may be fresh enough to drive to DC. The route is simple & direct; consult any map, online or paper, for details.
My first thought is, why not see if you can change your tickets and fly directly into Washington. If not, I would still fly. Taking Amtrak between city centers makes sense, but you'll already be at the airport. There are hourly flights between New York and Washington, and the flight is under an hour. That's so much better than shlepping to a hotel and then repacking to catch a train, even considering airline baggage fees. After such a long flight, that extra hour will be a breeze, and you can wake up in your destination city, ready to go.
I hope you've planned a scenic itinerary for 10 days in Washington. The city itself won't take more than a few days to see the monuments and museums. Ten days in New York is great though, you won't be bored for a moment.
10028 answer was the best where you arrive in NYC and take a direct WASHINGTON IAD, WAS within the hour. There is plenty to do in Washington DC as well as NYC and your days will go quickly at both places. Amtrak from Washington DC to NYC should be easy with your lugguage and like others have said, do not worry about the restrictions as I have never see a conductor ask about them either. In Washington you may want to rent a car to follow the Civil War trails or go to see the many Presidents resting place in Virginia. All the roads outside of DC is very easy to drive.. Enjoy yourself in America.
cheers tommy x
Why not an other flight to Washington?
Delta, American, United, JetBlue currently have direct flight from JFK to IAD DCA BWI
it's about 90 minutes flight
The Amtrak luggage "restrictions" are more like vague suggestions. I have seen people take suitcases on Regional trains (which is what you'd want to get from NY to DC) that you could fit a Great Dane into. There are large luggage racks at the ends of the cars, and overhead shelves as well that you can store your bags in. Don't give this a second thought. (I travel Amtrak on that route about 4x a month.)
Keep in mind they make their luggage restrictions as a general purpose thing for all trains. Some of them are more restrictive in thier on board space than others.
Many thanks. I thought the train would be far more convenient, too both re locations of stations and less hassle with security compared to airport. I know that Dulles is also a fair drive from central DC. I don't think we would be very confident driving esp with the chance of icy roads, but it is a thought. Besides, you folk drive on the wrong side of the road :) (We have driven through Washington State, British Columbia and Alberta plus Disneyworld to Kennedy Space Centre in the past).
Thanks, I figured that the train would be simpler on many levels. Not sure if we'd drive esp if roads are icy - have driven in US before and we have to keep up the mantra "keep to the right" - you folk drive on the wrong side of the road :) - food for thought, though.
Thanks very much. Great to read that so many people agree that we should have know trouble with our luggage. We know there is so much to see and do. We spent a week in DC back in 1999 and our son remembers very little so wants to go again. We love the Smithsonian, Georgetown and memorials (best seen in the evening). There is so much more we want to explore so may hire car. Also going to try to arrange visit to Pentagon (will need to do it through consulate here before we depart).
The train question seemed to be cleard up. However, 10 days in Washington, DC really is too much. Like Canberra in OZ, Washington, DC was established to be the seat of government, that is the sole purpose of the city. To see the White House, The Capitol and the monuments can be done in 2 days. Another day for the Smithsonian and one for other stuff like Library of Congress and Supreme Court. and your pretty much done. There are some interesting places near Washington, like Mount Vernon, Monticello and Williamsburg but these are better reached by car and beeter as an overnight trip. I really think you are going to be hard pressed for things to do in Washington after your fifth day.
I forgot that you would drive on the other side. I do not think I would drive, and I don't agree with taking a plane IAD is WAY out in the country and my husband has told me that he will not take me to or pick me up from there ever again because he got lost on the way home last time, and we have lived here for many years. And DCA isn't much better, although we don''t have the draw bridge to deal with anymore but the traffic is terrible. The bus has free wi-fi and toilets, but I think you might be better off on the train - you can see more of the country - certainly more than you would see if you flew. As others have said -luggage rules are more like a suggestion than a rule. Depending on when you come in December, we do not as a rule have much snow or ice until after Jan 1st. At least that was my mother's rule. As far as the number of days in DC - if you are using metro and feet to get around, it might take a little longer to see the sights than if you were wizzing around in the car. The Smithsonian by itself has 19 different museums and you can do a cruise tour to Mt Vernon and also tour Old Town Alexandria. There is a double decker bus Hop on hop off (although I would bundle up in the winter if you wanted to sit on top)
I thoroughly do not like IAD. The airport is way out in the middle of nowhere, but then when they land the planes there sometimes they don't have space for them, and so they put the planes way out on the tarmac someplace and you take a bus way back to the airport. On one trip I was on the bus trip from where they put the plane back to the airport was an hour long trip in and of itself. I think they must put the planes somewhere halfway to Georgia.
The Baltimore airport BWI, on the other hand, has a train station served by MARC commuter trains AND some of the same Amtrak trains that run New York to Washington DC, and while you have to take an airport shuttle bus to get there from the airport it is at least a reasonable distance. That at least gives you one alternative to the airport to train connection in New York and taking the train all the way down.
Flying into DCA Regan National Airport sounds like such a chore when it really quite simply a in and out airport and about three miles outside of the District. Catch a cab or metro and you will be at your hotel in no time.. (dino335) said you be bored in DC in two days is simply not true. Just getting around to the musuems will take over two days. The options of the Zoo, National Catheral and the war memorials, plus the shopping will keep you busy and do not forget the great food they have all over the district and Georgetown as you mention. We always said that you guys drive on the wrong side of the road, but getting into a car is like riding a bicycle, just follow the direction of the traffic and go the other way on the roundabouts. I would have no problem spending ten days in Washington D.C.\
cheers tommy x
I must agree with xymmot..National is so close compared with Wash.Dulles( if you choose to fly.)...where you need a" cut lunch" to get to the city.. I myself travel as much as I can by train so maybe my view is a little biased,,,I did that trip year before last by train DC ..New York as part of my "around the world by train"..trip The journey was fine ...absolutely no baggage worries...ticketing easy..well organised .lots of security within the station...the only thing that I found strange was" the no seating reservation"!!!!
What I like about the train travel is it is usually so easy . no getting undressed ...no xrays..no obnoxious security staff...just get on stow your bags .and grab a seat..train arrives in Union station..Reasonably central as is with most main train stations..as for not much to do in DC..the place is amazing ..."The Nations purse.".you will not have a chance to see what is in this great city....Please see my page on Washington DC...and tips to see and do...good luck have a great and relaxed journey..Get a seat in the middle of the carriage...not so much noise from the bogueys....