SFO TO San Diego by Amtrak

I am traveling today via Amtrak to San Diego. I will be meeting hubby Gee Kin tomorrow, who is flying in from SFO. This is a free trip for me, inspired by expired Amtrak points that were recovered. This “special” allows passengers to go from San Francisco to LA or San Diego area for 1500 points each way. Normally the minimum number of points is 10,000 for any free trip, so this was a bargain for those who have time.

The first leg is via what is known as a Thruway Bus, or by bus from SFO to Santa Barbara. It takes about 7.5 hours. After that, passengers transfer to the Pacific Surfliner from SB to LA or San Diego. The train arrives around 8pm, or in another 6 hours.

Obviously flying is far more efficient, but for me, why not? Free is free, but not faster. I managed to entertain myself on the bus with music, snoozing, and people watching. It was very comfortable and relaxing, far easier than my usual mode of driving.

The weekend will be capped by a visit to friends of ours, who live an hour outside SD. Since GK doesn’t have the time to travel by train, I plan to meet him at the airport tomorrow morning. After Gee Kin’s work-related portion of the trip, we will rent a car and drive to our friend’s place. We will do the reverse at the end of the trip, with Gee Kin flying back on Saturday, and then I will be taking the train on my own on Sunday.

This was initially a little complicated and confusing, but after I worked out the logistics it was quite simple. I discovered that I can wrap train travel around someone else’s busy schedule. By using Amtrak, I can enjoy some personal time and share time together. This works great for me, and is consistent with traveling with myself and others. If you hadn’t thought about this option before, you might consider this creative method of travel. It gives greater flexibility to accommodate different schedules for two people.

So far the bus ride following Hwy. 101 was uneventful, with stops in San Jose, Salinas, King City, San Luis Obispo and Paso Robles. The last two locations looked inviting, in between traversing many vineyards. And despite the drought, the Salinas Valley crops still looked well watered (pun intended).

From Santa Barbara to Ventura, the views along the Pacific Ocean have been spectacular, with tracks paralleling the surf! There are a string of small towns from Santa Barbara to LA such as Carpenteria and Oxnard. Alert your overseas friends and visitors (and a reminder to yourselves) that this portion of the route allows you to see the California coast and beaches ringside from the train during the day–which obviously now is the train’s featured namesake.


Here’s one additional bonus: free wifi on the train! I can write this and send it to you real time!

Stay tuned for the weekend’s activities coming up.

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