Tips for traveling by train

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By Lisa K. Berton

There's a unique rhythm that only comes from riding a train. It may feel like a heartbeat or reverberate like a drummer keeping time. It has an air of romance and in contrast, a bit of old western movie nostalgia.

Riding the rails is stress-free when compared to driving long distances. Avoiding traffic and potholes are certainly pluses. No one needs to frantically search for public restrooms because they're always within a few feet.

Whether you take Amtrak's Pacific Surfliner from San Luis Obispo to San Diego or the Northeast Regional from Boston to Virginia Beach (both lines have many stops in between), it seems like train travel is a fantastic option. Here are some tips to make your experience even better.

Business Class seats are more comfortable than Coach and more expensive
Business Class seats are more comfortable than Coach and more expensive
  • Bring food and beverages. Passengers are permitted to bring snacks, drinks, and meals on board. The Café Car sells snacks, alcoholic drinks, and sandwiches. Make your entourage happy.
  • Put your luggage away. Larger and heavier suitcases fit nicely into storage near the ends of each car. Small bags go in the overhead compartment. Keep bags out of areas marked for wheelchairs.
Luggage storage
Luggage storage
  • Stretch your legs. Because it is so easy to sit for hours at a time, make a point of getting up every 45 to 60 minutes and walk through a few train cars. Your legs and gluteus maximus will thank you.
  • Lock the restroom door. Pull the door shut and slide the knob. The door is locked when the orange light glows. We all thank you.
When the light glows you are good to go
When the light glows you are good to go
  • Let them carry your bags. Red Cap service is available free of charge at select train stations. Rather than standing in a long line, get on your train before everyone else. Amtrak staffers will take your bags down for you. Don't forget to tip $2-5 per person in your party.
  • Stay busy. Being occupied consequently makes time feel like it has sped up. Take knitting, a book, crossword puzzles, quiet toys, and headphones for your electronic devices. Look out the window and relax.
Remember, other people can see what you're doing
Remember, other people can see what you're doing

This article is neither sponsored nor endorsed by Amtrak. It is based on personal experiences.

2 thoughts on “Tips for traveling by train”

  1. Nice summary. I love train travel, although in Europe I have an uncanny ability to get on the wrong train. Is there a way to recharge electronic devices on Amtrak?

    1. Hi. Thank you. Yes, electrical outlets and USB ports are available but not necessarily at every seat. First Class cars on Acela have them and Business Class on other routes. I do see them more often in Coach Class than previously. Hope your next overseas train travel is worry-free.

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