My train tickets are confirmed and on their way. Finding a ride and a room in the area are proving to be more of a challenge then getting the transport. Amtrak is fairly simple compared to the airlines – there is only one train that goes there and it only has one schedule; take it or leave it!
From my research, the trains are on their schedule down to the minute – so when Amtrak says I arrive at 7pm, that’s when the train pulls into the station. I don’t know how long it’ll take to unload, or to claim my baggage. Right now I’m thinking I’ll take a rolling suitcase of mostly clothing, and a duffel bag with a few clothes for the train ride and most of my electronic gear. The duffel will stay with me in the roomette and the roller can get checked into the cargo area. I’m impressed at the luggage “restrictions” that Amtrak imposes – each passenger is limited to 5 bags, weighing not more than 50 pounds each. You get two carry-on bags and three pieces of checked luggage. Each piece of checked luggage is limited to 36 by 36 by 36 inches, which I think is a total of nine cubic feet, and I could take three of those! Of course the 50 pound limit kinda gets you there – any kind of crate that big would probably weight more than that.
The best deal on a rental car I’ve found is using a discount code from Amtrak with Hertz. However, the logistics of securing the ride are proving difficult. The auto rental places are all at the airport and the train station is on the other side of town. From what I can see on google, the station is very small – just a little building, a single rail platform and a small parking lot. I think I’ll end up with a cab ride to my motel for the first night, and then a cab or shuttle to the airport the next day.
I’m still on the hunt for rooms; downtown Austin is out of my ballpark, with most rooms costing $150+. I got a laugh that O’Rielly has a deal the the Austin Raddison for $147 a night using the coupon code MAKER – I guess working for a small time tech publication has its perks! The best prices seem to be in the North end of town, and the suburb Round Rock. There is a large shopping mall called the Arboretum that has a mix of high end and low end hotels around it.
Even though it’s more than a month away, I feel the need to start making a list of the things I want to take along.