Friday, April 11, 2008

Five Tips for Overnight Train Trips

1. Relax! That’s the first rule of train travel. A long-distance train is much more than just another mode of transportation; it should be an important part of your vacation experience. So enjoy it.

2. Upgrade if you can afford it. Traveling in coach class is inexpensive, but in a sleeping car you’ll have privacy by day and a real bed to sleep in at night. Yes, it’ll cost more, but all dining car meals are included in the price of the ticket and for a two-night trip, that would be worth about $150 for two people.

3. Pack smart. You’ll be much more comfortable in your cozy room - especially a roomette - if you leave your suitcases in the storage area near the entry doors of the sleeping car. Take only a tote bag to your compartment containing just what you’ll need for the night: toiletries, a change of underwear, a clean shirt, etc.

4. Don't miss a connection. If your itinerary involves changing trains somewhere, beware! Amtrak’s long-distance trains are often delayed because they run on tracks owned and controlled by the freight railroads whose dispatchers give priority to their trains. My advice: allow at least five hours for a connection. Better yet, stay overnight and take the next day’s train.

5. Dealing with Delays. See Rule # 1.

In the next day or two I'll start posting about some of Amtrak's overnight train rides ... where they go and what you'll see along the way. So start thinking now about taking a nice long trainride!


oldjarhead said...

Hi Jim. Thanks for your thoughts. My wife and I have recently decided to use rail to see more of the good old USA in lieu of our second trip to Europe, so we were glad to find your site. In fact just today we booked a visit to Kona which of course near you. Anyway, where is the best place to pickup your books? John

Anonymous said...

My wife and I are looking to celebrate our silver anniversary with a trip across America. I appreciate your tips and advice and I look forward to learning more through your experiences.