ICYMI: University of Central Florida, Valencia College, Seminole State College, and other college students, Orlando’s Brightline train station is finally open after an agonizing wait. Located adjacent to the Orlando International Airport, the station opened bright (get it…cause Brightline) and early on Friday, Sept. 22, and has since been met with primarily positive reviews.
My mom’s birthday happened to be that same weekend, so I thought: what better time to ride the Brightline home than its opening weekend? I rode from the Orlando station to the Fort Lauderdale station, but the train also stops at in other major Florida locations like West Palm Beach, Boca Raton, Adventura, and Miami. Despite the multiple stops and passengers both boarding and getting off the train, we arrived exactly on time. The ride from Orlando to Fort Lauderdale was three hours with surprisingly no delays. The train itself had a lot of vacant seats, was clean, spacious, and had attentive staff. Other than that, here are some other things you should know before booking your first Brightline ticket:
1. make your account with your college email
Making your Brightline account is a pretty straightforward process, but the selling point is that if you make your account with your college email, you get a 25% discount on your ticket. Listen, I don’t know about you guys, but I’m a broke college student trying to save as much money as possible, and that college discount saved me twenty bucks, knocking the price of my ticket down from $79.00 to $59.25.
I booked my ride for Saturday the 23rd five days in advance (in case you’re extremely bad at math, I bought my ticket on Monday), but even if I had booked my ticket the day right before, the price would have been the same. Unlike plane tickets, where the longer you wait to book your ticket the more expensive it gets, the Brightline tickets remained the same price throughout—which I thought was pretty cool.
2. bring a sweater
It’s a trait for all of us Floridians at this point: we get cold quickly. We shiver in 70-degree weather. I thought the Brightline was abnormally cold, and I found myself wishing I’d brought a sweatshirt for the journey. It’s two to four hours y’all, regardless of what stop you’re going to. Do yourself a favor and don’t be freezing cold throughout the entire ride so you can admire the beautiful sights out the window instead.
3. bring snacks
The check-in protocol for the Brightline was similar to that of the airport. You choose your own seat when you book your ticket and walk through a metal detector. Even the luggage dimensions and rules are the same, with no cost for carry-on bags and a two-bag limit. That being said, I naturally assumed that I shouldn’t bring any food or water, since you’re not allowed to on a plane.
Surprise: that’s not the case at all! They do not care if you bring food and water with you. While they have a food menu and snacks available for you to purchase on the ride, I’d just bring my own food next time.
4. knock out some homework during the ride
Thankfully, the Brightline even had free Wi-Fi! Depending on what seat you choose, you might have a table in front of you, since there is no price difference between seats with or without tables. I saw a couple of people during the ride actually zoning in on assignments and general work they needed to complete. If your seat doesn’t have a table in front of you, then don’t worry—you can still pull down a small table attached to the seat in front of you. Take advantage of the hours-long journey and knock out some homework. With the sights you pass along the way, you’ll definitely get into the right headspace and be productive.
5. get there early
This one is a given, but still necessary to say. Get there early. We left exactly on time, and arrived at our destination exactly on time. We didn’t wait around for anyone. I arrived at the Orlando station about twenty minutes in advance, which left me with ten minutes to chill and sit in their passenger lounge. It’s better to be safe than sorry—and missing a train just terrifies me to my core.
Aside from these five tips, don’t stress about it! I felt safe and relaxed on the Brightline. If you’re also a Floridian looking to go home soon anywhere in between Orlando to Miami, you can find out more information about the Brightline here. Safe travels y’all!