7 Top Tips for Amtrak Train Travelers New to Amtrak

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Written By DanielHaldeman

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Create a pre-departure checklist.

Traveling can be a stressful endeavor, so to ensure a stress-free journey on the train, there are several things you should arrange and plan while still at home. Amtrak Train Travelers It can be hard to imagine spending more than 36 hours aboard an Amtrak train without having made a plan – but we insist on it!

  • Identification You must present either your photo ID or passport.
  • Train Tickets You must possess either your printed ticket or electronic ticket.
  • Travel Insurance – Shield yourself against unanticipated travel misfortunes.
  • Your medication – Be sure to bring along any medication needed for your destination; keep it in a carry on bag so you can administer it yourself.
  • Personal Care Items – Such as soap, toothbrush/toothpaste, shampoo/conditioner, deodorant, lotion, hand sanitizer and more.
  • Other Travel Essentials – What are your must-haves when traveling? While the scenery will certainly keep you occupied, it’s wise to have some other items for added entertainment. There are plenty of great options for books, audiobooks and tablets as well as board games and cards that you can bring along. Moreover, bring along a notebook, binoculars and camera so that you can capture some memorable photos along the way.
  • Be Comfortable – Comfort is key when traveling by coach or private sleeper car, even experienced travelers can feel exhausted on long train journeys. To make those late-night bathroom stops comfortable, use slippers, earplugs and eye mask as well as blankets, pillows or fleece blankets.

Bring your own snacks and alcohol.

Bring your own food and drinks onboard the train if necessary, especially if you have any dietary restrictions or special needs. You can have these items at your seat, in private Sleeping Car accommodations or the Sightseer Lounges. Alcoholic beverages may be purchased onboard but it’s allowed to bring stock provided that you follow all train guidelines. Your Sleeping Car accommodation allows access to private stock only; highly recommended is that you bring along some water too!

Bring no more luggage than you can easily transport (unless checking it into a hotel).

Traveling by rail means you may have to haul your own luggage down narrow aisles and up steep steps, so only bring what you can carry. Trains run quickly, even at night, so don’t overpack. Additionally, Amtrak allows two bags per passenger at certain stations through its Red Cap service; just remember: these services may include assistance at certain stops.

Early to Rise and Early to Bed

Try to wake up early and not stay up too late. Doing this will help you be more alert and ready for your adventures.

Comfortable Clothing

Wearing comfortable clothing and warm socks will make for a more enjoyable journey, especially on long train rides where cars don’t have doors. Many passengers prefer to be cozy and wear their pajamas onboard; remember: you’re traveling by train to experience it, not impress other passengers!

Be Prepared for Train Delays

Amtrak trains and freight trains share tracks, so expect delays on longer cross-country routes. Your train may have to stop at the Moffat Tunnel if it is taking the California Zephyr from Chicago to Denver; take your time; it’s all part of the journey!

Not all station stops are created equal.

Along your trip, the train will stop at various stations for rest and passenger drop off/pickup. It is essential that you understand which stops are designated for rest and which ones allow passengers to get off. Amtrak strictly enforces this rule so you won’t get stuck out in the middle of nowhere.

Additional Resource:

Ten Tips for First-Time Train Travellers

What is Travel Agent Certification?