For 7 weeks in summer, I was lucky enough to travel all around America with two of my best friends. How I hear you cry!? Amtrak; a company that has trains racing all across the USA daily, creating an easy and sometimes cheaper option for travel. It certainly gave us more convenient routes into major cities then flights and airports, as well as giving us the opportunity to view the changing landscape across the country. Here’s a little insight from my experience:
As you can guess, the standard ‘economy’ seated section of the train is like any other. Reasonably comfortable chairs that lean back slightly, good amount of room for your feet as well as over head storage. You get the idea. Each train will provide some sort of food service, it could be a dining coach or just a small cafe bar, however there is always something on offer. From what I can remember, each train also differs on wether it has wifi or plug sockets available.
However the real test was the sleeper carriage, we stayed in the standard Roomette which slept 2, so one of us slept alone each night. The top bunk folds up against the wall during the day and the two window seats combine to create a lower bunk bed. Reasonably comfortable plus all your meals are included in your ticket! So you can literally have your dessert and eat it! On board they offer standard home comfort food such as burgers, pasta or even steak. They were a lot tastier than many airplane meals I’ve had!
As well as the dining carriage there was also space to relax, sit and chat as well as admire the views. The staff were so lovely, on one train we became nicknamed as ‘the troubled trio’ by the catering coach manager. They helped in anyway they could to make sure the journey was clean and comfortable for us.
As great as the Amtrak service is, these trips can be veeerryyy long so here are some of my top tips to get you to your destination:
- Books – you’ll get through ALOT. Fancy reading the whole Harry Potter series again?
- Music – because everyone needs a soundtrack to an adventure (speakers could also be a good idea too)
- Games – cards, board games, whatever you can pack. Also a brilliant way to make new friends along the way, invite them to beat you at Uno!
- Work – you’ll have plenty of time to do it. Plus some train routes do offer wifi as well!
- Simply enjoy the view – kick back, relax, maybe with a drink? Its such a unique way to take in the landscape that it must be savoured. Highly recommend the views on Empire Builder, Coast Starlight or California Zephyr routes! Find out more here.
- Food – bringing snacks along is ALWAYS a good idea however the cafe and restaurant on board do serve some surprising good food!
- Nap – if you are travelling long haul or over night I seriously suggest you book a roomette giving you the privacy and comfort to sleep peacefully. Although the price is higher, its alot more comfortable than a seat. Plus you have all your food included!
- Warm clothes – on any journey it can get cold at night, so having comfy, warm clothes at hand will help make the journey more bearable.
- Entertainment, entertainment and yes you guessed it, entertainment! – some ideas are listed above but a laptop/tablet with pre-downloaded movies is always an easy option. If you are lucky, some train routes do have an onboard mini cinema!
- Pillow and blanket – for extra snuggly happiness to send you off to sleep
- But the best tip: good company! Best friends are an especially good choice
Overall my experience of Amtrak was brilliant! The staff are friendly, the environment is clean and comfortable, decent food on offer plus great views. I would highly recommend this way of transport to anyone looking for an easier, efficient and scenic way of travelling around the US.
COMING SOON – blog posts on each city, you’ll want to stick around for them, it was a pretty awesome adventure!
So which Amtrak adventure are you going to take?
Come join my adventures: Twitter & Instagram : @emmasoffagain