I would have to say there was a lot of planning involved in an AMTRAK trip For our western US AMTRAK trip our first step was deciding where to stop. I think I chose some of the more obvious places. Our stops include Glacier National Park, Carson WA…The Columbia Gorge, Reno/Lake Tahoe, and Grand Lake/Rocky Mountain National Park.
The second step was figuring out AMTRAK. With traveling over night and some of the other peculiar AMTRAK features this required a time line. When we found we couldn’t get a car in Carson we had to make a change to our tickets which required us to return to the train station in Savannah. We changed our stop to Portland which was about an hour and a half drive back to Carson.
STARTING WITH A RAIL PASS
We started by picking a rail pass. You choose a pass by the number of stops you want to make on your trip. This is a pass to board the train with a coach seat a specified number of times in a given time period. So our first issue was we were right on the boarder of two time choices. So we had to figure out if we wanted to cut the trip a few days or purchase the more expensive 30 day ticket. Then we had to decide if we were going to spend 5 nights sleeping in a coach seat. This is where the trip started to get a little more expensive.
CHOOSING A SEAT
You have a few choices of how you would like to travel on the long haul trains. On trains like the California Zephr, your choices are Coach, Roomette, Bedroom, Bedroom Suite and Family Room.
Amtrak coach seats are wide and comfortable, with ample legroom and a reclining backrest. There is no middle seat, so you’ll have plenty of space to spread out. Each seat has a fold-down tray table, a reading light, and a 120v electric outlet. There are also overhead storage compartments for your luggage.
Coach seats are a great option for budget-minded travelers who want a comfortable and convenient way to travel. They are also a good choice for families, as there are no middle seats to worry about.
Here are some additional details about Amtrak coach seats:
- Seats are 21 inches wide and have a 38-inch pitch.
- There are no middle seats on most trains.
- Each seat has a fold-down tray table, a reading light, and a 120v electric outlet.
- Overhead storage compartments are available for luggage.
- Coach seats are a good option for budget-minded travelers and families.
An Amtrak roomette is a small, private sleeping compartment that is perfect for one or two travelers. It features two reclining seats that convert into a bed, an upper bunk, a fold-down table, a landscape window, and a personal attendant who will provide turndown service, coffee, and bedding. Roomettes also have access to a restroom and shower in the sleeper car.
Roomettes are a great way to travel overnight on Amtrak. They offer a comfortable and private space to sleep, relax, and enjoy the scenery. Roomettes are also a good value for the price, as they include all meals in the dining car.
Here are some of the amenities that are included in an Amtrak roomette:
- Two reclining seats that convert into a bed
- An upper bunk
- A fold-down table
- A landscape window
- Personal attendant service
- Access to a restroom and shower in the sleeper car
- Complimentary meals in the dining car
If you are looking for a comfortable and private way to travel overnight on Amtrak, a roomette is a great option. They offer a great value for the price and include all meals in the dining car.
Upgrading to a roomette runs from about $100 per night to several hundred dollars per night depending on the leg. So we are sleeping coach for the first night as it was way more expensive then the other nights for some reason. If you did the trip in 14 days and stayed in coach you could do the trip for a couple hundred dollars.
An Amtrak bedroom is a private room on an Amtrak train that offers a comfortable and luxurious way to travel. Each bedroom has a sofa that converts to a bed, a separate chair, a private bathroom with a shower, and a large picture window. Bedrooms also come with complimentary meals and snacks, and access to Amtrak’s lounges at major stations.
Here are some of the features of an Amtrak bedroom:
- Private room with sofa bed, chair, and private bathroom with shower
- Large picture window
- Complimentary meals and snacks
- Access to Amtrak’s lounges at major stations
If you are looking for a comfortable and luxurious way to travel, an Amtrak bedroom is a great option.
Here are some additional details about Amtrak bedrooms:
- The size of a bedroom is about 45 square feet.
- Bedrooms can accommodate up to two adults.
- The cost of a bedroom varies depending on the route and the time of year.
- Bedrooms are available on select Amtrak trains.
An Amtrak bedroom suite is the ultimate in train travel luxury. It offers twice the space of a regular bedroom, with two sofas and two separate chairs that convert into four beds at night. The suite also includes two private bathrooms with showers, a large picture window, and newly upgraded bedding, pillows, towels, and linens.
A dedicated First Class attendant will provide turndown service, assist with meals, and help with luggage. All customers in private rooms receive complimentary lounge access at major stations, priority boarding, and complimentary meals onboard.
Bedroom suites are available on select Amtrak routes, including the Auto Train, the California Zephyr, and the Empire Builder. Prices start at around $1,000 for a one-way trip.
Here are some of the benefits of booking an Amtrak bedroom suite:
- Privacy: You’ll have your own private space to relax and sleep, away from the hustle and bustle of the train.
- Comfort: The suite is spacious and well-appointed, with everything you need for a comfortable journey.
- Service: You’ll receive personalized service from a dedicated First Class attendant.
- Exclusivity: Bedroom suites are only available on select Amtrak routes, so you’ll be traveling in style.
If you’re looking for a luxurious and relaxing way to travel, an Amtrak bedroom suite is the perfect choice.
An Amtrak family room is a great option for families traveling together. It spans the width of the train car and sleeps up to two adults and two children. The room features two sets of bunk-style beds, a sofa, and two reclining seats. It also has its own private restroom and shower. Family rooms are only available on Superliner trains.
Here are some of the benefits of booking an Amtrak family room:
- You’ll have your own private space, so you can relax and unwind without having to worry about disturbing other passengers.
- You’ll have access to a private restroom and shower, so you can freshen up whenever you need to.
- You’ll be able to enjoy complimentary meals in the dining car.
- You’ll have priority boarding and baggage handling.
If you’re looking for a comfortable and convenient way to travel with your family, an Amtrak family room is a great option.
Here are some additional details about Amtrak family rooms:
- The rooms measure 9’5″ long and 5’2″ wide.
- They can accommodate up to 2 adults and 2 children (ages 2-12).
- They have two big picture windows.
- They come with newly upgraded bedding, pillows, towels, and linens.
- They have a dedicated First Class attendant who will provide turndown service, assist with meals, and help with luggage.
We found the Roomette to be very comfortable for us. There are 14 Roomette’s per car and three private bathrooms and a shower in each car. There was room to sleep and plenty of privacy. Each car had a porter who looked after you for your trip. They made up your cabin to sleep each night and converted it back each morning.
In an effort to avoid staying in Chicago our flight from Savannah was at 6 am. We took the local train from the airport downtown. This was during rush hour. Needless to say people were not to happy about us having luggage on the commuter train. Then it was 29 hours on the train to East Glacier that same day. We had a similar schedule on the way back
One of our biggest learnings on this trip is that you can not rely on the train being on time. We cut it to close on our return to Chicago. Fortunately we were able to get off the train in a Chicago suburb and get an Uber to the airport. This saved the time getting into town and the time it would have taken to get to the airport from downtown. In another example we were several hours late getting into Portland and we just made it in time to pickup our car.
THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN PLANNING A TRIP
The train is a more relaxing and scenic way to see the country than flying, and it can be a lot cheaper too. If you’re thinking about planning an Train trip, here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Decide on your destination. Amtrak travels to over 500 destinations across the country, so you’ll have plenty of options to choose from. Do you want to see the mountains, the ocean, or the big city? Once you know where you want to go, you can start planning your route.
- Choose your train. Amtrak offers a variety of different trains, from the budget-friendly coach class to the more luxurious sleeper cars. If you’re on a tight budget, coach class is a great option. But if you want to experience the full Amtrak experience, consider booking a sleeper car.
- Book your tickets. You can book your tickets online, by phone, or at a train station. If you’re booking your tickets in advance, you’ll likely get a better deal.
- Plan your activities. Once you know where you’re going and how you’re getting there, it’s time to start planning your activities. There are plenty of things to see and do in every Amtrak destination. Do some research and find the things that interest you the most.
- Pack your bags. Amtrak has a baggage policy that you’ll need to follow. You can bring two carry-on bags and two checked bags per person. You can also bring a bike or a pet on board, but there are some restrictions.
Here are some additional tips for planning a trip:
- If you’re traveling during peak season, book your tickets early.
- If you’re traveling with a group, consider booking a private car.
- Amtrak offers discounts for seniors, students, and military members.
- If you’re traveling with a disability, Amtrak can provide accommodations.
Planning an Amtrak trip can be a lot of fun. With a little planning, you can have a relaxing and enjoyable journey.
Here are some additional resources that you may find helpful:
- Amtrak website: https://www.amtrak.com/
- Amtrak blog: https://blog.amtrak.com/
- Amtrak Trip Planner: https://www.amtrak.com/plan-your-trip.html