Riding Amtrak

Riding Amtrak is not hard if you do a little research for your adventure. Planning an Amtrak adventure can lead to some questions; I know this because I had several as I started.

I hope this page helps you work through those questions.

Advice from Experience

After hundreds of Amtrak train trips covering thousands of miles, I went from asking questions to answering them for others.

June 20 2021 Amtrak #5 oma
The California Zephyr #5 in Omaha, Nebraska.

Instead of hoarding that information, I decided to share my experience.

My first Amtrak adventure took place in 2012, and back then, there were not many websites out there, like this one, outside of the Amtrak website. I did a little later on find an online forum that helped answer a few questions.

I found the forum handy but also discouraging. Several trolls out there were more about complaining and being negative. The trolls had me second-guessing if I even wanted to travel anymore.

Luckily, I didn’t listen, and I found most trolls were people with unrealistic expectations or bitterness because “what was” is now in the past.

Acela in 30th street station
My first Acela pulling into the 30th Street Station in Philadelphia, PA

While they have the right to say what they want, I also have the right to move on to other resources.

Without seeing many other options, I pressed on, found a few Amtrak friends, and decided to start this site to give you a more positive place while still being as honest as possible.

If you can’t find your topic, please reach out, and I will try to help!

With over 160,000 miles on the rails and over 660 trains, I have experienced most things. 

Below are the topics I currently cover, and more are coming, so come back or sign up for my email list. Some of these articles come from questions asked by people like you.

Things to check out

Amtrak announced its summer 2022 schedule, and they report that all but three trains are back to their pre-pandemic schedules.

If you are trying to book a trip in May, this page may help you.

Face masks are now highly suggested but not mandatory on trains. Depending on state and local rules, they could require them at some stations. There is more information on Amtrak and the pandemic.

Amtrak Coffee
Coffee tastes better on the rails, which could be better than coffee and stunning views.

Helpful topics for planning an Amtrak adventure

Get printable timetables here.

Accommodations: Coach and Sleeping Cars

Amtrak sleeper
Amtrak Superliner Sleeping Car Branding.

For comprehensive information on Amtrak sleeping accommodations, start here.

  • Coach Class 
    • The article covers the basics of coach class basics for your next regional or long-distance train adventure.
  • Viewliner Roomette
    • The Amtrak Viewliner Roomette is a cozy accommodation in Amtrak’s single-level sleeping cars, and this article will help you with the basics and a few tips.
  • Superliner Roomettes
    • The Amtrak Superliner Roomette is a cozy accommodation in Amtrak’s bi-level sleeping cars, and this article will help you with the basics and a few tips.
  • Amtrak Bedrooms
    • Find out what you need to know about Amtrak’s largest sleeping accommodations, the bedroom. The article covers both Veiwliner and Superliner sleeping cars.
  • General Questions on rooms (sleeper cars)
    • An overview of Amtrak rooms and the top 21 asked questions answered.

Other 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 and what you can expect.

Showers on Amtrak

Sleeping cars on long-distance trains offer a few nice perks, including privacy, sleeping horizontally at night, and more!

On nice amenity is the shower! This article covers everything you need to know to stay fresh while traveling.

Eating On Amtrak

Amtrak's french toast
Amtrak’s french toast from the dining car. Photo Courtesy of Amtrak

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 roll down the rails.

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.

Coach passengers, at this point, do not have access to dining cars, but they can use the cafe car. Business Class passengers on the Coast Starlight can use the dining car at their expense, and this is a trial run.

Amtrak provides a cafe car for coach passengers and sleeper passengers looking to add a little more to their food, snack, or drink intake.

Food On Amtrak Regional Trains

Many regional trains offer food aboard the trains. Short routes, like the Hiawatha, do not provide any food or beverage services. The cafe car is where you need to head to get your sustenance for many regional trains. This article covers the basics of what you need to know and the menus.

Amtrak Stations

Washington (DC) Union Station
Washington (DC) Union Station

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 withing on a trip.

Amtrak Lounges

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

What You Need To Know About Each Of Amtrak’s Long-Distance Trains

This section is new, and I am still working on it. Currently, there are articles on the Auto Train, The City of New Orleans, and the Cardinal.

Amtrak’s Auto Train

Amtrak Auto Train
Amtrak Auto Train Photo Courtesy of Amtrak

The Auto Train runs on the east coast as an alternative to driving I-95. This train travels from the great DC area to the great Orlando area.

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

There are two articles, the first is what you need to know, and the second gives you an idea of where your room is on Amtrak’s Auto Train.

  • Why do the lights go off and on while on the train
  • Amtrak route guides
    • Years ago, Amtrak published route guides for passengers to read while traveling on the rails, but these days these guides are no longer found on most trains.
    • Route guides add a lot to your trips, especially if you like trivia and learning.
    • I find it fun to learn the history of many of the stops and towns you pass through along your journey.

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. If you have questions, please reach out and let me know!

Safe travels!

Kev