Most Americans are familiar with Amtrak in one respect or another. Train rides across the states were once reserved for the affluent upper classes. However, nowadays, it is much more affordable and regardless of whether you are native to the states or a tourist looking for an incredible experience, taking the Amtrak across America is truly unforgettable. Obviously, planes are quicker, and cars are more private and provide you with more independence, but when it comes to Amtrak, it is all about the journey. Read on to learn more.
Public Transport Is At Set Times
The first thing that you need to be aware of is that public transport in any form will be setting off at set times. This means that they will have a schedule that they need to stick to. You won’t be fully in control of the situation, as you would be if you drove yourself. Sometimes there are unexpected delays which can affect the journey either while you are on board or while you are waiting for your train. If you are already at the station, then you can go to the information desk for updates. You will be able to track your train through apps, too.
Always Spring for a Sleeper Car on a Longer Journey
The Amtrak rail service has stations in 46 different states. You can plan a totally bespoke journey, and it is really easy to do using a service like Wanderu, which allows you to get Amtrak tickets and map your route. If you choose to plan a longer journey which spans multiple days, then you absolutely should spring for a sleeper car. They are obviously more expensive, but the amenities that they offer make it worth it. They often have seating as well as beds and a more private bathroom. It is essentially like booking a hotel room on a train; they are much more comfortable too. While it is possible to sleep on the Amtrak without a sleeper car, it is far less comfortable and arriving at your destination rested, and relaxed is worth it. There also tend to be attendants who ensure that your needs are catered for too. If you do have a sleeper car, then it is also advisable to bring some cash with you so that you can tip the workers accordingly.
Snacks are a Must
Now, if you are planning a longer journey when you purchase a sleeper car ticket, then you do get meals included in the price. However, you are still likely to be spending a lot of time in the sleeper car, and when it comes to settling in for a journey of any length, it is definitely worth having your favorite snacks to hand. This is perhaps all the more relevant if you have purchased a standard ticket. So, on the way to the station, it does make sense to stop by a grocery store to stock up on any of the snacks or drinks that you are going to want. There is the option to purchase snacks and refreshments on the train itself, but obviously, their range is limited, which is not ideal, especially for fussy eaters.
Passing the Time
When it comes to passing the time on a long train journey, you have several options. On most cross-country Amtrak routes, you can also expect to find an observation car which provides 360 scenic views. However, they can get a little busy, and in all honesty, the novelty is likely to wear off after a while. This is why you will need to have thought about other ways in which you can pass the time. If you are travelling alone, then you can download or stream content and games. You could also take a book to read, games to play or indulge in any of your other hobbies like knitting, crocheting, or sewing. Of course, you are likely to experience a few bumps along the way, so it might not be worth trying to do something that requires a steady hand, like sketching or drawing.
There is a Customer Service Line
If you find yourself on the train and you want to upgrade your tickets there and then, you can do so. Or if you need something and the train staff themselves are unable to help you, then there is a customer service line – it is a 1-800 number – that you can call. They can make the necessary changes to your ticket or otherwise do their best to answer your query for you. However, calling on board may not be easy if the signal is spotty. This is why it is better to spring for an upgraded ticket initially.
Travelling cross-country on the Amtrak is truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. The scenic views are stunning, and staying in a sleeper car is a pretty cool experience too. Obviously, research is key to ensuring that you have planned the journey properly. You can also take advantage of the different stops, hopping on and off trains as you see fit – if your ticket or tickets allow for this – ensuring that you get to stretch your legs and explore the different places that you pass through.