How to make train travel a traveler’s paradise with these 15 Train Travel Tips!

If you are traveling on Amtrak or any other train for more than a couple of hours, you will quickly appreciate these train travel tips.

15 Train Travel Tips

 

1. WiFi Access

Yes, most trains have WiFi, but it is inconsistent, of low-bandwidth, and typically only available in First Class or Sleeper cars. You could just create your personal WiFi hotspot with your cell phone and then connect your electronics; this is relatively easy to accomplish by following your phone provider’s instructions. Your family and friends will be able to enjoy the internet also! (Please note that this will consume your data bandwidth, so unlimited data is always best for this method)

Pro Tip: Secure your personal Wi-Fi hotspot with a PASSWORD!

I would like to thank each and every unsecured Wi-Fi hotspot I accessed on my last few train rides.

2. Pillows & Blankets

When riding coach on a train, it is unlikely you will be provided pillows & blankets for your comfort. First class and sleeper cars would be the exception. Your seat may have footrests, leg extensions, to accompany the reclining chair back making for a comfortable train trip. Bring your favorite pillow & blanket for the ride; you can thank me later!

3. Catching some zzz

Thankfully the train provides quite times in the evening where they don’t make train announcements. However, your fellow passengers may not follow the rules and remain quite during this time or anytime. Along with the never-ceasing, yet comforting, noises of a train rolling down the railroad tracks, and occasional loud passengers, bright lights you may pass, and so forth, you may find a set of eye shades and ear plugs of great value.

4. Throw out fashion on a train

Yes, some people dress up for the Dining or Parlor car experience. Most travelers should opt for the casual look and more specifically, loose, comfortable clothing to help you relax during your train ride. I have seen people wear their pajamas on the train, but that might not suit you very well if your trip is only for an hour.

5. Take a walk

Room to take a walk on Amtrak trains | nevertooldtotravel.com | Gary House

Sitting in one location for hours on end is not fun and can be highly uncomfortable.

When on a train, take a walk!

Amtrak Observation Car | nevertooldtotravel.com | Gary House

One of my favorite thing things to do is visit the ” Observation Car” if they have one during your trip. The Observation train car is bright and roomy, ideal for socializing, relaxing and seeing the sights.

Take a longer walk and check out all of the different cars on the train, you might be surprised at what you discover!

6. Listen and enjoy the view

Audiobooks are fantastic for many reasons but number one in my book (no pun intended), you can listen to an audiobook narration and look out the window at the same time!

Pro Tip: Amazon has digital eBooks that have companion audio narration with it. Allowing you to read at night, listen during the day and never lose your spot in your book.

Prefer podcasts instead? Listen to the Amtrak Podcast http://amtrak.adventgx.com/

Amtrak, the National Park Service’s Trails and Rails Program, and the Department of Recreation, Park and Tourism Sciences at Texas A&M University have created audio podcasts to enhance your travel experience on the Sunset Limited (New Orleans – Los Angeles) and Texas Eagle trains (Chicago – San Antonio – Los Angeles). The podcasts will act as your trip guide, providing you with information on the travel experience, points of interest, and other information to enhance your journey.

7. Entertain old school

For those of you hopelessly entrapped in the digital media world, I would like to point out a little-used form of entertainment called “Card Games & Board Games.” Ok, sarcasm aside (I do apologize), card games and board games are an excellent way to pass the time. You do need to bring your own and trains with an Observation car have tables available in them as well as the Cafe below.

8. Safety on a train

According to the Washington State Department of Travel: ” Riding a train is more than 23 times safer than traveling by car.” But is safety on a train a concern? Yes, I would say this about any travel, if you act like a target – you will become a target!

  • While on a train, secure your luggage with a cable and lock if you plan to take a walk.
  • Never leave your electronics out unless you are using them.

9. The Dining Car experience

Amtrak Dining Car | nevertooldtotravel.com | Gary House

One of the biggest thrills I get aboard a train is the dining car. It’s a fabulous way to meet new people, experience hot tasty food, and enjoy the views all at the same time.

Pro tip: Make a reservation for the dining car. They will assign you one of several available time slots to show up and be instantly seated.

Amtrak Dining Car menus: https://www.amtrak.com/servlet/ContentServer?c=Page&pagename=am%2FLayout&cid=1241305537990

10. Cafe car for the budget conscious

Yes, the dining car can be as expensive as going to a nice restaurant, and it is worth it to enjoy all it has to offer. If you are looking for a more budget-friendly experience on the train, I highly recommend you visit the Cafe Car with its impressive selection of snacks, drinks and hot foods available. Including a “variety of carry-out style foods, including sandwiches, pizza, snacks, and beverages including liquor, wine, and beer” the Cafe Car is perfect for the budget conscious train traveler.

Amtrak Cafe Car menu: https://www.amtrak.com/ccurl/522/899/National-Cafe-Menu-0816.pdf

11. Pack a Picnic

With Amtrak’s ample seating space and multiple options for table seating on their trains, you can bring your Picnic! Perfect for those that have eating styles that differ from the Amtrak menus. Go all out with a Gourmet Picnic Basket, but please follow these Amtrak guidelines: Personal Food, Beverages and Medication

Pro tip: Amtrak Cafe’s have microwaves that can heat up your water (no food allowed) for hot tea, hot chocolate, ramen, etc

12. The battle against germs

Amtrak trains are, in my opinion, impressively clean and they work hard to keep it that way. It’s people who are the problem, we just spread germs, and you need to fight the spread. No different from airplane travel or your kitchen counter, the seat tray harbors the unknown array of previous inhabitants contact. Did they cough and sneeze over them? Change a diaper? Or …

Perhaps I am a bit over dramatic here, but statistics show that the seat tray on an airplane is the largest germ repository on a plane. Take the time to wipe down your seat tray with some disinfectant wipes and don’t forget to use hand sanitizer.

13. Restrooms come in different sizes

Not a topic of most conversation I suppose, but Amtrak has the bathroom business covered. On the trains I have traveled upon, there have been multiple configurations in bathroom size and features. Besides being clean and well stocked, they have restrooms with wheelchair access, parlor style restroom with mini couches and vanities with a separate toilet, and for those loving the cramped airplane style of bathroom your covered as well.

14. Never lose track of where you are

Passing by new landscape on a train can leave you feeling location confused or perhaps lost. Of course, you will be aware of your general location-based on the train station locations. Wouldn’t it be nice to pinpoint your location or even identify a passing Landmark/point of interest? My favorite tip is to bring a paper map with you! They still make them, and it is very easy to mark your route as you travel along the train tracks. Perhaps you can make a game of it!

15. Pre-departure Checklist

Use Amtrak’s Pre-departure Checklist to ensure your trip is the best it can be!

View here: https://www.amtrak.com/pre-departure-checklist

Amtrak Podcast http://amtrak.adventgx.com/

Amtrak, the National Park Service’s Trails and Rails Program, and the Department of Recreation, Park and Tourism Sciences at Texas A&M University have created audio podcasts to enhance your travel experience on the Sunset Limited (New Orleans – Los Angeles) and Texas Eagle trains (Chicago – San Antonio – Los Angeles). The podcasts will act as your trip guide, providing you with information on the travel experience, points of interest, and other information to enhance your journey.

 

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