Riding Amtrak

If you want to ride Amtrak, it helps you know the basics, so I put this page together. Setting the right expectations is vital for any trip you want to plan. Finding good information can be challenging, so why not get it from someone who spent over a decade riding the rails?

My story and experiences

Over the years, I went from asking others questions to answering them for people like you.

My first Amtrak adventure took place in 2012, and back then, there were not many websites like this one outside of the Amtrak website, at least that I could find and connect with. I did find an Amtrak forum that is still around; albeit handy, it was also discouraging.

Kev Aboard the Hiawatha
Riding the mighty Hiawatha to Chicago

In 2013, I took my first long-distance train and fell in love with Amtrak Travel. That year, over two trips, I went from coast to coast in an Amtrak coach class. I could not get enough train travel, so I started riding the rails weekly! I would take short trips to Milwaukee or Chicago or go as far as St Louis, MO, Battle Creek, MI, and more for lunch.

In March 2014, I climbed onto the 421 Texas Eagle sleeper into roomette number 14 and found my happy place! I earned several free roomette rides because of my regional travels and learning to use Amtrak’s point program! One of those trips was from Charleston, SC, to San Fransico, CA, on the Silver Meteaor, Capitol Limited, Texas Eagle, Pacific Surfline, and an Amtrak connection service on one ticket!

Instead of hoarding my experiences, I want to share them on this website with my positive but honest take on Amtrak travel. At this point, I have over 200,000 miles on the rails and over 700 trains; I have experienced most things.

Amtrak Coffee
Coffee from the cafe car tastes better on the rails.

Helpful planning topics for your next Amtrak Adventure

This section could be great if you want to plan an Amtrak Adventure but do not know where to start. Or, if you have a specific question, this section may help you find that topic faster.

A few topics to explore

Amtrak Planning Trips

Things you should know before your first Amtrak trip.

  • Entertainment on Amtrak Trains
    • Amtrak offers views, but you may need to pack something else for entertainment. Find out a few of Kev’s suggestions.
  • Amtrak Service Alerts and Notifications
    • Amtrak’s office resource for service alerts, weather impacts, passenger advisories, station advisories, plus links to Amtrak service-based Twitter handles.
  • Boarding Amtrak Trains
    • You booked your tickets, packed your bags, and now it is time to board the train. Here is an article that will help you prepare for your trip.
  • Amtrak Connecting and Thruway Services
    • Sometimes, Amtrak cannot take you by train to where you want to go.
    • These days, Amtrak charters a bus or van or books you on another transportation company as part of your reservation to get you where you need to go.

Amtrak accommodations

Superliner Car
An Amtrak Superliner Sleeper Car is waiting for passengers.

For comprehensive information on Amtrak sleeping accommodations, start here.

  • Coach Class 
    • The article covers coach class basics for your next regional or long-distance train adventure.
    • Coach class passengers have access to a Quiet Car on some select trains.
  • Overview Of Amtrak Sleeping Accommodations
    • If you are new to Amtrak Long-distance trains, this page will give you a quick overview of what you can expect and links to put you in the right direction to get the info you need.
  • Viewliner Roomette
    • The Amtrak Viewliner Roomette is a cozy accommodation in Amtrak’s single-level sleeping cars. This article will provide the basics and a few tips.
  • Superliner Roomettes
    • The Amtrak Superliner Roomette is a cozy accommodation in Amtrak’s bi-level sleeping cars. This article will provide the basics and a few tips.
  • Amtrak Bedrooms – Superline & Viewliner
    • Find out about the bedrooms, Amtrak’s largest sleeping accommodations.
    • The article covers both Veiwliner and Superliner sleeping cars.
  • Amtrak Accessible Bedroom
    • This could be a great room for those who have mobility issues.
  • Amtrak Family Bedroom
    • A great room for those traveling with wee travelers.
  • General Questions on rooms (sleeper cars)
    • An overview of Amtrak rooms and the top 21 asked questions answered.

Amtrak onboard experiences

Amtrak Wi-Fi

You can find Amtrak Wi-Fi on many regional and long-distance trains; this article will let you know what trains plus what you can expect.

Showers on Amtrak

Sleeping cars on long-distance trains offer several nice perks, including privacy, sleeping horizontally at night, and showers! This article covers everything you need to know to stay fresh while traveling.

Eating on as you ride Amtrak

Amtrak omelette breakfast
An Amtrak traditional dining omelet breakfast.

Eating on Amtrak can be a fun experience, and knowing what to expect can help you plan what snacks you want or need to bring and how much money you need to set aside as you travel.

Eating on Amtrak Long-Distance Trains

Sleeper car passengers on the Auto Train and those trains that run for two nights use Amtrak’s traditional dining. The remaining long-distance trains offer sleeping car passengers Amtrak’s flex dining.

Amtrak provides a cafe car for coach and sleeper passengers who want to buy food, snacks, or drinks.

Food On Amtrak Regional Trains

Many regional trains offer food aboard the trains. Short routes like the Hiawatha do not provide food or beverage services. The cafe car is where you can find food on regional trains. This article covers the basics of what you need to know and the menus.

Stations: where you board Amtrak

CUS Enterance
Outside entrance to Chicago Union Station’s Great Hall

The Amtrak system contains different station types, from a platform and a sign next to a cornfield to a beautiful station leftover from rail travel’s glory days.

These articles will prepare you for whatever station starts or ends your Amtrak adventure. You could encounter different types on a trip.

No matter what station, you need to know how to board Amtrak trains, and this article will help.

Amtrak lounges

Some of Amtrak’s stations have lounges for passengers to use. Do you qualify to go into an Amtrak lounge? Find out what stations have them, what you can expect, who has access, and more!

Learn How To Ride Amtrak Long-Distance Trains.

This page is an excellent starting point for learning about each train route. It includes articles I wrote about each route, or if I haven’t written about that route yet, I link to Amtrak’s page. You can also get schedules and route guides.

Amtrak’s Auto Train

Amtrak Auto Train
Amtrak Auto Train Photo Courtesy of Amtrak

The Auto Train runs on the East Coast instead of driving I-95. This train travels from the great DC area to the great Orlando area.

The Auto train allows you to ride comfortably and bring your car along. You do need a car to ride on this train.

There are two articles: the first is Auto Train basics, and the second gives an idea of where to find your room on the train.

This page is growing!

More stories and articles are coming! Thanks for stopping by, and I hope you can learn a thing or two about riding Amtrak.

Safe travels!

Kev

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