Suggestions for Lengthy-Haul Amtrak Journeys, From Traveler Who’s Been on Over 50

  • All through the years, I’ve taken many Amtrak journeys and know methods to take advantage of the trip. 
  • Be sure to concentrate to the time so you do not miss your cease, but in addition be ready for delays.
  • Many trains haven’t got Wi-Fi, so ensure you’ve packed all the things you have to keep entertained. 

I’ve traveled solo on dozens of Amtrak trains all through the previous few many years. 

Within the Nineteen Nineties, I lived in Chicago, an excellent practice metropolis. From there, I took Amtrak trains to a number of main hubs, together with New York, St. Louis, Minneapolis, Austin, and Los Angeles. After I later moved to Los Angeles, I steadily took the practice again to Chicago, and in addition rode the rails to San Francisco, San Diego, Phoenix, New York, Portland, and Austin.

Prepare rides could be a stress-free and illuminating option to journey, however — as I do know from my years of expertise — there are essential issues to bear in mind to make your journey protected and pleasurable.

E-book your tickets early to make sure you get a seat

Personal Amtrak rooms are sometimes in restricted provide.

Deborah Brosseau



Having your individual house can affect your lengthy trip

So if you wish to get a personal roomette or room — which is dearer than a coach or business-class seat and in restricted provide — you must leap on it straight away. Plus Amtrak’s commuter traces are the corporate’s bread-and-butter and may get fairly full, particularly on the East Coast. 

Bear in mind that not each route is direct

Amtrak can get you nearly wherever within the nation, nevertheless it will not be a direct route.

Some journeys using by way of extra distant areas could require you to change to a bus or native line. So that you may get to see extra of the area, however your journey will take longer.

Simply ensure you’re conscious of any transfers and the time they’re going to add to your journey.

Analysis the path to know its historic and geographic significance 

There’s a variety of American historical past you’ll be able to be taught from the passing sights.

Deborah Brosseau



I see and be taught one thing new each time I take a practice journey. It is an uncommon and attention-grabbing option to study historical past and geography.

Many routes, particularly cross-country rails, go by waterways, epic bridges, ghost cities, Native American territories, battlegrounds, and mountain ranges — most of which have a singular story or historical past. Plus some practice stations even have their very own mini museums.

For instance, the Southwest Chief route, from Chicago to Los Angeles, travels by way of the American West, which has a very in depth historical past of industrialism, agriculture, and Native American displacement. 

Take note of the time so you do not miss your cease

A lot of practice journey depends upon the clock, particularly once you’re crossing by way of time zones.

Lengthy-distance routes have a variety of nighttime stops, and lots of of them will not be referred to as by the conductor due to quiet hours. So should you’re consuming within the eating automotive or sleeping, you’ll be able to miss your station. I counsel setting an alarm or taking care to remain awake once you’re getting near your cease. 

Be ready to expertise delays

Amtrak has to share the railways with different trains.

Deborah Brosseau



Amtrak shares the rails with freight firms, which might result in delays.

Some delays will be hours lengthy, and there isn’t any actual option to know should you ought to anticipate one forward of time. I’ve had trains arrive early, but in addition as a lot as six hours late.

Simply ensure you give your self sufficient time and suppleness to nonetheless make your plans work even when your practice is working not on time.

Do not anticipate to all the time have Wi-Fi

Amtrak would not present Wi-Fi on lots of its trains, together with a number of long-distance ones, which will be irritating.

The dearth of web could make it laborious to work, keep in contact with family and friends, or watch and obtain exhibits and flicks. I’ve realized to organize for this by downloading content material upfront and informing those that my connection might be spotty for a few days. 

The dearth of display time will be pleasurable, particularly with the gorgeous views and a superb e book.

Make the most of longer station stops

Benefit from the contemporary air and a stretch.

Deborah Brosseau



Amtrak trains cease at many stations. A few of these will simply be to load and unload passengers, however others are fresh-air and stretch breaks, which you must make the most of. 

Even when the climate is dangerous, get some contemporary air and transfer round. After sitting and respiration recycled air for days, your physique will thanks for the break.

Some long-haul routes have longer stops to alter the crew that will even final an hour, so you’ll be able to go to the close by reward retailers and cafés by the station. Simply be sure to look at the clock — the practice won’t anticipate you. 

Pack your carry-on correctly

For particularly lengthy rides, you want to have the ability to maintain your self for days. 

You may pack your individual snacks and drinks or purchase some on the café automotive, which is open to all passengers. 

Moreover, to maintain up private hygiene, you will wish to have your toothbrush and toothpaste available, in addition to physique wipes and deodorant. You will have entry to showers you probably have a room or roomette however, in my expertise, they do not all the time have sizzling water and are not all the time the cleanest.

You will additionally wish to pack different necessities like a change of underwear and garments, nutritional vitamins and medicines, contacts, headphones, a cellphone charger, and a blanket or jacket.

Keep alert and apply private security

Be sure to make use of the partitions or seats to remain regular as you stroll.

Deborah Brosseau



Amtrak would not have the identical safety protocols as airways — there aren’t any metallic detectors or bag screenings on the stations. 

So whether or not you are in a coach automotive or a personal sleeper, you want to concentrate on your environment. 

Study your automotive attendant’s title and ask how they’re greatest reached within the case of an emergency. Moreover, all the time take your valuables with you to the restroom, café and sightseeing automobiles, or exterior should you plan to take a fresh-air break. 

Strolling will be tough on the practice since there’s a variety of movement, so stroll together with your legs huge and all the time use the seats, partitions, or railings to maintain regular. 

Do not anticipate practice journey to be glamorous

Prepare journey could look refined in motion pictures or on social media, however these long-haul journeys aren’t notably luxurious.

You are typically not consuming effective eating, and until you pay a ton for a personal room with particular person amenities, you must anticipate to share a toilet with a variety of different individuals. 

That being mentioned, benefit from the trip. It is an effective way to see the nation, take a break out of your routine for a few days, and meet a variety of fascinating passengers.   

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