7 Tips for Surviving an Overnight Train Trip

You always hear the phrase: “it’s more about the journey than the destination.” I can’t say that I’ve enjoy all my flights more than the place I was traveling to explore, but I can say that train travel is ALL about the journey.
I had traveled on the sleek, timely trains of Europe, crisscrossing Germany, France and Italy, but I had never spent more than a few hours on New Jersey Transit–my only American experience on the rails. I decided to dive head first and take a 3 day, 56 hour direct Amtrak train from blustery Chicago to sunny Los Angeles. I skipped all the the baby steps and dove in full throttle.
Now, spending two nights and 3 full days on a bumpy train without more than a ten minute “smoking stop” to breathe in fresh air, isn’t for everyone. But I have to say, it is an experience that not only teaches you a lot about this beautiful “Fifty Nifty” but also a lot about yourself.
I profiled the food, the sleeper cars, the entertainment options and I even interviewed fellow passengers in this 5 part video series. But most importantly, I’ve come up with my seven best pieces of advice for you enthusiastic train travelers. 7 Tips for Surviving an Overnight Train Trip

1. Turn your phone into a wireless hotspot
There’s very spotty service in many areas that we trained through so don’t be stuck without email, social media & Youtube videos. Make sure you can tether your phone to your laptop so you can catch up on TV shows, track your route and stay connected to the world.
2. Download Entertainment ahead of time
With no wifi on board and limited service via your phone, be sure to pre-download all you need in terms of TV, movies, books & magazines. You’d be amazed at how many series you can crush in 56 hours.
3. Bring Games
Cards and other portable games will help pass the time and if you are traveling solo, allow you to meet new people!
4. Separate Bag
When you get on your car, there are designated areas for large bags. They are crowded and you will have to fight the pile of other bags to get to your toothbrush unless you take an auxillary bag. I had a small duffle bag that I had my clothes for the ride, pajamas, toiletries and comfy shoes. This was the only bag I used while on the train and I could keep it right in my cabin. If you don’t have a cabin, make sure it’s small enough to take with you for meals.
5. Check out the Cars
There is a panoramic view car that is wonderful for watching the world go by, but there’s also an upstairs and downstairs food car for a change of scenery. And remember, you can walk to other cars to get your blood pumping!
6. Bring Booze!
If alcohol is not on your menu, ignore this tip. But if it is, know that there aren’t many options on board and the limited selection that is available is very expensive. Bring some bottles of wine, a case of beer or your favorite libation and bring plastic cups. You will thank me later.
7. Window Gaze
Thinking back to this trip, the most magical part was really getting to see the dramatic American landscapes change before your very eyes. Be sure to take photos as you go along and you’ll be shocked at the difference that an hour can make in the moving picture that is outside your window.
Watch the rest of the series here–>

MacArthur Place in Sonoma, California

Recently, I checked out the MacArthur Place, a boutique property just steps from downtown Sonoma in

Recently, I checked out the MacArthur Place, a boutique property just steps from downtown Sonoma in wine country of Northern California.. I very much enjoyed the layout of the property with all the rooms in cottages throughout a nicely manicured lawn and garden areas. The pool was a refreshing treat, as was the daily wine & cheese hour. The little luxuries here made our stay that much better and the rooms were very well appointed. Don’t miss Saddles Restaurant when you go–their steakhouse is one of the best dinners in town. For all the details: the good, the bad and the ugly, watch my review!

Eden Roc Miami Beach

Eden Roc Miami Beach is not just an Old Hollywood icon on South Beach, it’s a modern, sexy resort with a fabulous pool & beach scene, incredible dining and stunning rooms. My morning view from my penthouse room was breathtaking. Stay at the Eden Roc Miami Beach if you like quality, luxe style, a great beach and a little bit of the SoBe scene.

Fodor’s Guides: New York City in the Summer

Fodor’s Top Things to Do this Summer in New York City
Travel Expert Kelley Ferro highlights the best things to see and do in New York City during the summer. From MoMa to Central Park, the Highline to the Standard Biergarten, I have you covered. Viva la summer!

Brunch at the Four Seasons Las Vegas: The Verandah

Vegas is a Foodie’s heaven so I made it my mission to conquer the best bites of the Strip. From a 14 course meal at L’Atelier du Joel Robuchon to the Walking Gourmet Tour of the Venetian to the all you can eat feast at Bacchanal Buffet–I indulged on only the finest. Take my foodie tips when you next visit the strip!

In this episode, I start my day with one of the most outstanding brunch buffets at the Verandah in the Four Seasons. Fresh squeezed juices, made to order donuts and custom made omelets by the palm lined pool? Now this is the way to brunch.

Foodie in Vegas: The Walking Gourmet

Kelley is USA Today’s Foodie and she heads over to Las Vegas to try out this town’s top eats.
In this episode, Kelley goes on the Walking Gourmet Food tour and eats her way around The Palazzo & The Venetian’s best spots.

Bacchanal Buffet at Caesar’s Palace

Kelley is USA TODAY’s FOODIE Host. Join her as she eats her way around the Las Vegas!
Heard of this infamously GIANT buffet? Well Bacchanal Buffet at Caesar’s Palace is bigger and better than I could have imagined. I ate my way through as much as could–king crab legs? check. Filet Mignon? Check. Fresh sushi? Check. My only sadness was that I couldn’t properly indulge in the dessert station–next time those make your own crepes are MINE.

Driving Exotic Cars in Las Vegas

Kelley Ferro is USA Today’s Luxury Lover and in Las Vegas she has the ultimate adrenaline rush, speeding through the red deserts in some of the world’s most fabulous cars of course.
Mercedes, Jaguars, Ferraris, oh my!

What to do for the 4th of July in Los Angeles

July Fourth is one of my favorite holidays (#2 on the list to be exact.) I mean, what’s not to love about a holiday that a). includes a day off from work, b.) involves hanging out all day with friends & family, c.) every American, regardless of religion, can participate and d.) promotes barbecues, cocktails and being outside. To me, it also marks that it is full blown SUMMER season. Oh, and Fireworks are just a cherry on top.

As an LA transplant, I scoured this little town for the best goings on this Fourth of July. Take your pick.

1. In a Pool

This partyparty pool at Mondrian will definitely make your Fourth one to remember (albeit hazily).  The Skybar is hosting all day DJs, cocktails, fun pool floaties and jaw dropping LA views–what’s not to love? Tickets are reasonable at $25 and available here. I was sold by the photos of their recent Memorial Day party.

2. On the Water

Whiskey Red's

Hit up Marina del Rey’s Burton Chace Park, make a reservation at a waterfront restaurant or find a friend with boat. You won’t get better sunset or fireworks views and as the nearest host of the fireworks on the beach, the atmosphere will be festive to say the least. If you are going the picnic in the park route, get there EARLY. Spots are usually filled by 6pm for the 9pm fireworks.

Whiskey Red’s, located right along the scenic marina, is hosting a buffet barbecue and reservations are being taken now for patio ($62.95) or indoor seating (52.95)–but come on people, you want the patio.

3. On a Roof

erwin

High, the rooftop of Venice’s funky hotel gives you unobstructed views of the fireworks, the sunset and the pretty people that are sitting at the tables next to you. A table reservation gets you 2 beers, a cocktail, a gourmet sausage and DJ to complete the perfect summer evening. What’s more American than that?

4. On a Boat

queenmarycunard

The Queen Mary is welcoming revelers on board for a day filled of events–from a circus to a Great Gatsby party, each decade from the 1940s will be represented, letting attendees party through the ages. The ticket gets you on board and access to the events, plus prime viewing of the Long Beach fireworks from the deck. Purchase your tickets here for a hefty discount ($26 vs $44 on their website).

 

Mall of America: My Staycation inside

I spent 3 full days inside the massive Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota and what I found was, I could have stayed longer. From the seemingly endless shops, restaurants, aquarium, amusement park, and theatres to the excellent Radisson Blu hotel that I called home (and can’t forget my favorite, the Solimar Spa) this Mall of America “staycation” was quite the luxurious experience.

*Note: I say there’s no sales tax at the Mall of America, I mean no sales tax on clothes and shoes only (the most important things!).