The Big Easy by Train

screen-shot-2016-09-25-at-4-55-23-pmI think it’s safe to say I’m enamored with the idea of long-distance train travel. There is something so…fascinating about the idea of it. Nick thinks I’m crazy, but you know what they say about opposites and attraction. 😉

An idea I’ve had recently was to take the train from New York City to New Orleans, stay for a few days, and then fly back. I think it would be an interesting way to see part of the country, specifically the southeast, and would let me try out long-distance train travel. This framework will be similar (but shorter!) to the one I posted earlier this year (New York to Seattle via Chicago). These write-ups should act as guidelines, and are not a promise that you can find these exact trips; however, I hope they are close enough to show that you can really do “expensive” trips for much less than you think.

So, first things first–getting to New Orleans! Amtrak runs one train a day (the Crescent) in either direction:  19 going south and 20 going north. It’s a ~30-hour trip, leaving New York in the early afternoon and getting into New Orleans the evening of the following day.

On the points front, this part of the trip will set you back 19,734 points for a Viewliner Roomette (18,747 if you have an Amtrak credit card). Without points, that portion of the trip would set you back $556.30.

New York to New Orleans for under 20,000 points-hey, isn’t there a credit card that gets you 20,000 Amtrak miles?

In case you don’t know what you’re getting in the Viewliner Roomette, here’s a quick breakdown of some of the highlights:

  • Meals included
  • Two berths
  • Picture window
  • Sink and toilet in room
  • Electrical outlets
  • Climate control
  • Individual reading lights
  • Fresh towels and bed linens
  • Soap and shower amenities
  • Personal service (turn-down, coffee, make-up bed)

Once you get to New Orleans, you’ll head to the MOXY New Orleans Downtown/French Quarter where you’ll be spending three nights. This is a Marriott category 6 property, which will set you back 30,000 points per night, or 90,000 points total. Without points, this hotel would set you back $139 a night, or $481 with taxes. In this case, I’d recommend using cash, as that is not a great valuation of your points, In fact, it comes out to roughly half a penny per point, ouch!

Screen Shot 2016-09-25 at 5.04.35 PM.png
MOXY room price–much better than using points!

Once you’ve had your fill of exploring New Orleans, you fly back on American Airlines. Currently, American has great Business Saver awards available, meaning a Business Class ticket is only 25,000 points plus $11.20 in taxes. You’ll leave New Orleans around 2pm, connect in Miami, and be back in New York by 9pm. Without points, a similar flight would set you back $391 dollars, or roughly 1.6¢ per point.

American flight details

All in all, a quick, but unique trip to the Big Easy–doable with only 2-3 credit card applications! Check in tomorrow to see how you make this happen and how much it’ll cost you!


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