20.5.11

Journey to Montauk: Feeling Strangely Homeless on the Long Island Railroad

If you live in New York City and happen to be bereft of living quarters for a night, try this relatively cheap alternative.
RIDE the LIRR!
On My Way to Montauk!
Get Your Ticket at Penn Station
Yes, get your ass over to Penn Station. Take a Montauk bound train. You'll have to transfer at Jamaica, though. The seats are not terribly comfortable. So, try to find one of those facing seats so you can prop your legs up for the ride. If you take the midnight train the initial thirty-five minutes will not afford you much sleep time because you will be sharing the train with night-time revelers. Mostly Long Island kids with a penchant for partying in Manhattan. They're mostly white kids who may or may not stumble into your car seat half-drunk. Mostly harmless.

Since you are bereft of a home for the night, make sure your backpack has a toothbrush, toothpaste, extra pair of socks and some reading material. Also some snacks. the Long Island Railroad does not have a snack bar on board. You can load up on stuff at Penn Station but the prices are steep. I suggest buying your food somewhere else before you head to the train station.

A one-way train ticket to Montauk will cost you about 18 dollars one-way. That's off-peak prices. The return ticket will cost the same unless you return to New York City during peak hours (any time from like 8 until 10:30 in the morning and rush hour in the evening (4-8). It's not a free night on the LIRR but it is a helluva lot cheaper than a hotel room.

I have to stop here by saying that one could probably find a cheaper room to stay in New York City. The LIRR to Montauk suggestion is only for those lazy sons-of-bitches who just so happen don't have room accommodations -- or did not take the time to scour the city for a room, or just shit out of luck and rather not ride the L train all night (did that, not going to repeat it: Canarsie is scary).

There Are Toilets in Almost Every Car!
The good thing about LIRR trains is that they have toilets in every other car. Don't lose your ticket though. It's gold. The conductors are vigilant about checking. So keep it handy.

From Penn Station to Montauk is about four hours. If you position yourself right you can get about two and a half hours of sleep. The lighting is harsh on the train (a double-decker!). So put a towel over your head. At one point I had my shoes off and I had occupied four seats all around me with my backpack and other such stuff. The key is to make yourself unapproachable. If you are traveling the LIRR for living space you don't want neighbors. All you want is a place to sleep.

I didn't calculate this SNAFU but once I got to Montauk (I had left NYC at like midnight) it was like four in the morning and the next train to NYC wasn't scheduled to leave for another hour and a half.


Photo by Bridget Shevlin on Unsplash
Montauk is Really Beautiful at Four in the Morning!
That really sucked. BUT. Montauk is beautiful at four in the morning.

1. There were no people
2. I am not used to this reality
3. I saw three deer on the road
4. The air is crisp and clean
5. Birds singing!
6. No people
7. I was dancing and singing!
8. The pretty manor in Montauk is awesome.
9. Too bad I am broke and can't stay there

Take the Return Trip and Feel New York City Again (Blechhhhh!)
The return trip was quiet until the train reached the New York City area and the car filled up with early morning commuters. Some kids who live in the Hamptons got on board and did their homework. A perky businesswoman sat next to me and filled out boring reports. I had to pay an extra six dollars because I returned to NYC during peak hours.

Here Are Some Practical Tips
The trip is about 45 dollars. The benefits are:

1. Toilets!
2. More comfortable than the subway
3. No one bothers you
4. Fewer stops

The negatives:

1. No vending machines
2. Long layovers
3. I could probably find a cheaper hostel
4. The seats do not recline

On My Trip to Montauk, Though:
Next time I go to Montauk, however, I think I am going to check out the lighthouse.

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