How to travel by Amtrak train
Let the train cut out the hassle and stress of vacation travel. Travelers with time on their hands enjoy the ride while the capable engineers from Amtrak take control of the wheel. Comfortable seats or private rooms, dining cars, and an observation deck make this trip enjoyable and entertaining. Whether you are taking a short trip up the road or are embarking on a cross-country journey, you will find that traveling by train is the way to go. You’ll have the ride of your life and, when you arrive, you’ll want to go again. On your next vacation, sit back, relax and enjoy your train trip.
Buy your tickets. They are available for purchase online at Amtrak’s homepage, or at the station. If you go to the station, but have seen the tickets at a lower price online, pick up the service phone and talk with Amtrak over the phone. You may get a better price. Amtrak also offers machines at the station you can use to buy your ticket. Tickets purchased online must be picked up at the train station so keep a copy of your reservation to take with you.
Arrive at the station a minimum of twenty minutes before departure. Pick up your ticket at the window and check your luggage. Take up to three pieces of checked luggage. Each piece can weigh a maximum of fifty pounds. If your train leaves in the early morning hours, call the 1-800-USA-RAIL and find out if you can check your luggage the evening before.
Once that is taken care of, you are ready to board the train with your two carry-on pieces of luggage. Purses, computers and medical equipment (like a CPAP machine) do not count as your carry-on luggage.
Prepare to board but remember, boarding the train has variables. Busy trains will have assigned train cars and seating. An Amtrak attendant will assign your seat on a popular route. Less popular routes will allow you to choose your own seat. Find or choose your seat. Store your carry-on materials in the overhead compartments.
Enjoy your ride. Use your time to visit the lounge car where you can watch the scenery go by in large floor to ceiling windows and, at times, enjoy a «tour» shared by residents of the area. Meet new people and spend time enjoying your trip. You will find a snack bar in the lower level of the lounge car.
Eat at the on-board, restaurant. Reservations are required. Unless you are in the sleeper cars or on the first train cars, you will not have many choices for when you eat. Know that the meal times are about thirty minutes behind schedule. Plan to eat about 1:30 if you choose a 1:00 time slot. Unless you are with a party of four, you will be joining complete strangers at your dining table as Amtrak practices what they refer to as community seating.
Use time to visit, sleep, read, watch movies, craft, write, make new friends or watch the scenery pass by.
Ride the train even if you are handicapped. The lower level is reserved for people with wheelchairs or for those who have trouble moving up and down the stairs. Since restrooms are located on the lower level, this is convenient. Attendants will actually bring you snacks and meals from the snack car, but you have to give them the money. Attendants will help you to and from the train and even walk you into the terminal if you need the assistance.
Take along medical equipment you need. For example, many people cannot sleep without the help of a CPAP machine. Many of the cars have electrical outlets available by the seats, making a good nights rest possible.
Make your train travel even more comfortable. Choose a sleeper car. They vary in size and luxury. Some offer seating and sleeping while others offer a private shower. Sleeper cars are perfect for a family traveling with small children. Restaurant meals are included in the price of the ticket.