Railing for Amtrak

The United States is known for a lot of things, but its amazing passenger rail system isn’t one of them. At least not since the late 19th/early 20th century, and not in comparison to some other countries that have developed truly modern passenger rail systems.

With that said, it is possible to travel by train across the entirety of the U.S., and some even recommend it.

I did a trip a few years back from Providence RI to Portland OR. I loved every minute of it, and would do it again in a heartbeat. … I took books to occupy my time, and didn’t crack the back of one of them. There was more than enough going on outside the window, inside the train, or down in the club car to keep me well-entertained. ~EnricoV

I enjoy travel, watching scenery pass, and waking up in a completely different environment each day, but it’s “slow” and not for the short of attention span. … One thing I will say, you will see parts of America you didn’t know existed. Who knew there were antelopes up north near the Canadian border! ~threepatchproblem

But even though long train trips are generally recommended by the travelers in this thread, they do offer plenty of caveats and suggestions to make the trip more enjoyable.

I would suggest getting at least a roomette. They are somewhat pricey and a little small for 2 people. (the seats face each other sharing the same legroom) However on longer trips I think it is worth the cost. ~Alaskan Mutt

I’ve gone 1/3 of the way across the country, and the best piece of advice I can give is: bring sleeping pills. Also, be sure to try Amtrak food because it is actually quite good. ~sidburn

Personally, I’m not sure I’m completely convinced of the merits of Amtrak after reading this discussion. Then again, many travel to Russia to partake of the Trans Siberian Railway experience ala Karl Pinkerton. Maybe a warm-up on a cross-country U.S. trip would be just the thing.

Image: “Amtrak’s California Zephyr in Utah” by Loco Steve. CC BY 2.0.


  1. Last year did Ann Arbor-Chicago-Los Angeles-Seattle on Amtrak cabins with the family and LOVED it. Best flat beds ever 🙂

    Here is the trip report: Fist half is of this trip. Second half was on LAN flat beds to South America.

  2. Amtrak is unfairly treated IMO. I have ridden them and been very pleased locally in Northern California. I have yet to do a long-haul trip. The sleeper car options SEEM very expensive, until you consider points. You can get the Amtrak credit card with 30K+ bonus, more than enough for some roomette travel. You can also transfer points in from Chase. I used some points to bring my sister & BIL from Denver to Davis in a full bedroom and they really enjoyed the ride.

    What people fail to understand about Amtrak IMO is they don’t build the rail system. They ride on rails built for freight trains. The big freight companies determine where the tracks go and Amtrak gets to schedule their trains into the holes between freight schedules. If American funded and prioritized trains the way we subsidize highways, then things would be very different.

  3. Our first long distance Amtrak trip is in December, Denver-San Francisco on the Zephyr…with 3 kids under 8. Excited to see some of those parts of the country close up.

  4. I’ve taken the auto train to/from Florida many times. Dinner is included and the food IS good.

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