Winter is the season for traveling. Tis the season to escape the frigid conditions.

Has anyone thought this winter would be this frigid? For more than a month, the temperatures in the northeastern United States have been dipping close to zero. The wind chill has made these near-zero temperatures feel five times colder. For those who are looking forward to traveling during these frigid winter months, there’s plenty to keep in mind. There are a handful of hints for all winter travelers to consider when going anywhere. Whether traveling by train or cruise ship, being prepared for the weather is key. What are the key tips to braving the weather while traveling this winter? With an open mind and with warm thoughts, here they are.

When traveling by train: 

Winter and train travel go hand-in-hand. On a wintry day, an Amtrak Northeast Regional train races through the snow.

5) At the station, stay indoors!: Traveling by train during the winter is a great experience. Amtrak makes winter travel worth the while. However, standing on the platform for long periods of time can make any station experience less favorable. While waiting for the train, passengers should treat themselves to hot liquids (ex. coffee, hot chocolate, and hot tea). Once on board, passengers will instantly forget they were standing on a frigid cold platform.

4) Allow wiggle room!: System-wide, Amtrak strongly recommends to passengers that they MUST arrive half an hour before prior to departure. This pertains to traveling on Northeast Regional, Acela, Empire Service, or other intercity routes. Amtrak strongly recommends that long-distance passengers arrive one hour prior to departure. Long-distance routes include the Lake Shore Limited (New  York/Boston-Chicago), Silver Star/Silver Meteor (New York-Miami), Palmetto (New York-Savannah), Crescent (New York-New Orleans), and California Zephyr (Chicago-Emeryville, CA). We are all aware of how winter weather affects our roads!

3) Pack hand warmers!: Many major Amtrak stations are fully staffed, including baggage assistance. When traveling with carry-on baggage alone, frigid weather conditions can make traveling a challenge. Whether waiting on the platform for five or even ten minutes, frigid temperatures can greatly affect anyone’s ability to have a firm grip on luggage. Passengers should have not just one set, but a back-up set. Passengers should do the same for their return trip. By keeping the hands warm at all times, waiting on the train station platform will be a comfortable and soothing experience.

Protection from the cold is key in winter travel. Using hand warmers makes handling luggage significantly more efficient.

2) Pack an afghan blanket!: Amtrak allows up to two carry-on items per passenger, not including personal items such as laptop computers and purses. On a frigid cold day on the rails, there’s nothing wrong with cuddling under an afghan blanket. An afghan blanket, or even a Snuggie, go well with that cup of hot chocolate or coffee from the cafe car. Winter and train travel go together hand-in-hand. There is an hora to traveling by train during winter time. No winter train journey is complete without the comforts of home.

1) Bring endless hours of entertainment!: What’s a winter train journey without bringing along a portable DVD player, a tablet to stream movies and shows, or an iPod with plenty of tunes in store? Anyone who has all three, should pack all three. Keeping those movies, shows, and tunes playing will keep the cold off any traveler’s mind. All Amtrak coaches are equipped with 120 volt receptacles. All passengers must remember one thing- pack headphones for all electronic devices! This MUST be adhered to when riding in the quiet car.

When cruising: 

On sailing day, it’s vital for all passengers to be prepared for the frigid weather conditions. Aren’t these cruise passengers well-prepared?!

5) Dress for sailing day weather!: A cruise is the ultimate getaway from frigid winter weather. Before the ship enters the warm weather of the Bahamas,  Caribbean, or the Pacific, it’s paramount to be ready for the cold weather of sailing day. On sailing day, it could be as cold as ten degrees. All cruise passengers must dress for the weather. While waiting for the staterooms to become available, cruise passengers have the chance to explore the ship. Yes, it will be cold on the open decks. Yes, there is a strong likelihood of having to walk around the frigid and possibly snow-covered pool deck. Anyone who wishes to use the Jacuzzis, should cover up with their parka, Snuggie, or fur coat.

4) Drink hot liquids!: Once on board the ship, cruise passengers should drink plenty of hot liquids including hot tea and coffee. It feels a bit strange being on board a cruise ship in the middle of cold weather. It’s best to introduce the body to hot liquids. Any specialty coffee works wonders. After all, what’s cruising for?

3) Washing hands thoroughly: Washing hands is paramount on any cruise. With frigid weather on our hands, there is the concern of the flu or any illnesses breaking out. To properly address this concern, cruise passengers MUST wash their hands often, before and after entering all public places on board. Before and after eating, washing hands is a vital for all cruise passengers. Cruise passengers MUST exercise the habit of washing hands thoroughly. Cruise passengers must use the sanitizing gel at all times. The sanitizing gel, however, does not replace washing hands. Washing hands with soap and water takes an easy twenty seconds. Those twenty seconds make all the difference. Healthy passengers = healthy ships.

To prevent the spread of germs on board ship, cruise passengers must use the food tongs wherever provided.

2) Use the food tongs!: It’s very common for cruise passengers to forget about their proper dining etiquette. Using the food tongs is among one dining habit which cruise passengers must take note of. On sailing day, it is vital to prevent winter germs from spreading. While treating themselves to the buffet upstairs, cruise passengers MUST use the food tongs provided. Cruise passengers must use the food tongs at all times. Cruise passengers must not touch any food with their bare hands. During the winter, germs can spread like wildfire. The food tongs are to be used wherever provided. Cruise passengers SHOULD NOT touch take any fruits or vegetables without clean hands. As an extra precaution, cruise passengers should also carry around a pack of hand wipes. Hand wipes can also be used to wipe any seats previously used by other cruise passengers.

1) Check the stateroom temperature: When going on a winter cruise, especially sailing with frigid temperatures, it is vital that the stateroom temperature is set at a comfortable level. Cruise passengers are strongly encouraged to speak with their stateroom attendants. If their stateroom thermostat needs to be adjusted, they should speak to them immediately. Having a comfortable stateroom temperature makes all the difference. In the cruising industry, safety is the best policy.

Winter cannot be a better time to travel. It is all but proper to get away from the frigid temperatures that keep everyone indoors. When it comes to going on a cruise or traveling by train, there are plenty of helpful hints which all travelers alike should take into consideration. When traveling by train, being at the station thirty minutes to an hour prior to departure makes a significant difference. When on board both a train or cruise ship, drinking hot liquids is well recommended, to allow for a satisfying experience. On board any cruise ship, dressing appropriately and exercising proper hygiene come in handy. This includes washing hands thoroughly. When eating, the food tongs are to be used wherever provided. Winter is a great time to travel. When it comes to frigid weather conditions, being prepared and exercising the proper precautions make traveling well worth the while.

About Author

David Kriso has been a travel writer since August 2011. He is a contributing writer for both of his hometown's newspapers, The Gazette, and The Observer. His articles focus on cruise and railroad travel. David is also published online at, a cruise magazine based in Vancouver, Canada and at Amtrak's story site, David also writes for the publication On, he writes about cruise and rail travel. David is a long-time train traveler, avid cruiser, and a Disney traveler since age 4.

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