I wanted to fall in love with Amtrak and train travel. When my amiga Luvvie and I booked train tickets from Chicago to Washington DC, I had these pastoral visions in my head of whizzing through the rolling, scenic countryside during the day, venturing up to an elegantly outfitted dining car by night, and spending much needed time plugged in and working en route.

What was I thinking?

Instead I came to realize – as my homie Craig said — “Riding Amtrak is like riding a Greyhound bus for the cost of an airline ticket.”

Overnight Amtrak

I’m sad to agree with him, but it’s true. And while I’m at it let me say something you won’t hear me saying often…my husband was right.

Allow me to share the highlights and the lowlights, the good, the bad and the ugly, and hopefully explain why I will never ever subject myself to an overnight train trip again.

Overnight Amtrak Sounded So Good…

When Luvvie and I booked tickets, we thought we were so clever. An overnight trip with a girlfriend sounded super fun at the time, and I think we both had an impression of train travel based on old time movies or something. My husband was the one who first brought us crashing down to reality with questions like – did you think to get a sleeper car?

I don’t even wanna get into the roasting and clowning I’ve had to endure since this whole trip began. In fact – check Awesomely Luvvie’s recap for complete details via our G Chat pre departure.

I did some online research about train travel before we left, but nothing that truly prepared me for the experience itself. This is the good, the bad, and the ugly.

The Good —

— Traveling with my homegirl! The concept of a ride through the countryside with my amiga Luvvie was too fun to pass up. Preparing for the train ride with our snacks and blankets gave travel a different vibe completely. I appreciated not being separated from my stuff, and not having to worry about packing teeny fun size hair and beauty products (I’m really not the best packer!) As we ventured through the mountains of West Virginia, I had absolutely no regrets about the trip. Train travel can be quite charming, if you’re in a beautiful and relatively undeveloped part of the country.

See? Pretty countryside. All you need is a little Simon and Garfunkel and you’re all set.

— The people! Some of our neighbors en route were awesome, awesome people. The woman who sat across from me on the way up to DC was funny and smart and we had a great conversation about the oil spill, politics, just about anything you can think about. And then when Luvvie let her know that I had this here blog, she was SO excited! “OMG, my friend reads your blog!” Yay! Hello to you and your friend!

The gentleman in front of us had a huge art portfolio with him and upon request, opened it up to reveal some amazingly skillful drawings. People came from all over the train, little kids were peppering him with questions. It was an impromptu art show! And he then proceeded to offer prints for sale for just $5! His name is Manuel Proctor – he’s on Facebook – and he’s a super talented artist. Check him out!

On my way back from DC I wound up next to an amazing, amazing woman named Joyce. We talked about absolutely everything from family to diet, politics and religion….Joyce is in her sixties, lives in Oklahoma, and is absolutely amazing to talk to. I told her I was writing about this and she said PLEASE tell the people one thing on her behalf, and that’s this — in Joyce’s opinion as a former employee of the government who fought for equality throughout her career, boycotting BP makes no sense. “If you boycott them and they go bankrupt, then who’s gonna pay to clean up their mess? The taxpayers!” she argued. And I must say, her perspective really gave me pause. I promised her I’d get her message out, so there you have it.

— Robert, the Amtrak official who works on the 29 train from DC to Chicago – you are a true asset to Amtrak and you deserve a raise just for being awesome. I mean it. Thanks for being a diamond in the rough. And I mean rough.

The Bad:

— It took 26 hours from Chicago to DC. TWENTY SIX HOURS. We were supposed to arrive at 4:30 pm, which would have given us enough time to shower, change and be fabulous for the Sunkissed Mommy rooftop Blogging While Brown pre-party at the W Hotel. As it happened, we arrived at 8 pm. Party was supposed to end at 8:30. We hightailed it to the hotel, got ready at the speed of light, and missed almost all of the fun. Because of Amtrak. Ugh.

— Some of your fellow passengers on a train are cool, laid back, enjoying the ride. Others…not so much. We actually got to see someone take off their earrings and get ready to fight an Amtrak conductor. I didn’t realize people actually did that. And then she goes: “you don’t want me to turn this motha out!” WHAAAAAAT??? Quoting Parliament Funkadelic and ready to rumble? I don’t even know what to do with that!

— They wouldn’t let me and Luvvie sit together on the way back. That sucked!! And it was totally for no reason!! I had an empty seat next to me the whole way back. Luvvie got an old woman who borrowed her blanket when she left her seat. SO not cool. There is NOTHING worse than a person in uniform on a power trip.

— Sleeping on a train is incredibly uncomfortable. There’s no way to make it work. Pillows and blankets only help so much. And if you ever take a train bring a big, thick blanket. They keep trains extra extra cold for some unbeknownst reason.

— the FOOD. I had a hot dog cooked in a sweaty plastic bag for dinner. I had this vision of white tableclothed tables and y’know, REAL FOOD…but not every train has that. The one on the way back did. The one on the way out certainly did not. There was a surly man behind a counter, heating up pepperoni pizzas and hot dogs in a microwave. Boooooo.

— at the end of the DC to Chicago trip I woke up at 5 in the morning because of a super loud PA announcement (the dining car is open!) to discover my awesome new Skullcandy headphones crushed and broken at the foot of my chair. FML.

The Ugly:

— Chicago’s Union Station just might be the ninth circle of hell. Insanely crowded, insanely busy, and generally not well laid out. Washington DC’s Union Station is a vision of loveliness, on the other hand.

— En route from Chicago to DC, this one Amtrak employee kept getting on the PA system to admonish everyone on board about things-that-should-be-obvious like bathroom etiquette and wearing shoes when going from one car to the next. I was like lady, if I hear you shriek on the microphone about papers being left all over the bathroom floor and the dangers of flushing paper towels one more time…I may have to turn this motha out myself.

— Then I went to the bathroom. And quickly realized that there’s a reason she kept getting on the mic. What is WRONG with people? It’s a public restroom! UGH.

In summary, Amtrak may be great for a 2 to 4 hour trip, but not a 24 hour trip. Romantic expectations, dashed. I’ll suck it up and pay an airline fee to not have to deal with that ever again!

For even more of our Amtrak adventures, read Luvvie’s post. And if you’re thinking of taking a long Amtrak trip – read this. I wish I’d read that before I booked my ticket with Amtrak!

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Living Fly on a Dime says:
June 23, 2010, 6:00 pm
Oh wow. Thanks for the honest review. I always had this enchanted image of reclining on the train, glass of wine in hand and snapping pics of the passing scenery. I might have to rethink that!
zenzele says:
June 23, 2010, 6:09 pm
"Turn this mutha out!" I'm still cracking up at that one!!! Thanks for the wake-up call; I was thinking of doing the same thing myself to see the fall colors; think I'll just skip that.
lola gets says:
June 23, 2010, 6:10 pm
This post was so funny, I almost cried! The longest Amtrak ride Ive ever taken was DC to Springfield, MA, which is about 8-9 hours. Its not that bad. And its not a heavily traveled route, so one could get two seats to lay out on. L
Tamika says:
June 23, 2010, 6:21 pm
Wow. My mom and her hubby rode down from Charlotte to Atlanta almost two years ago and she didn't complain, but I could tell it wasn't the best trip. And why does it take oh so long?? I said to her, she could have taken the Greyhound for less money and would have gotten here in the same time. I'm like you Bella, have these romantic visions in my head and actually encouraged the train trip, but after seeing my mom not so happy about getting back on the train and reading your horror-story, I think I'll pass. Airport, here I come!
Lyssa says:
June 23, 2010, 6:25 pm
Amtrak is the worst. And I know you never watched the show, but your lede sounds exactly like an episode of SATC. Carrie had this romantic idea about train travel, too. Ha! But at least you got some good out of it, right?
Simone says:
June 23, 2010, 6:33 pm
lol I suppose your assumption of a pleasant experience across rolling landscape is as much to blame for your disappointment as the actually happened on the trip. I've taken the City of New Orleans several times from Chicago to Memphis and New Orleans with nary a complaint. I hope to take the DC trip one of these days. I hear there's a fabulous cross continental Canadian trip that should be on everyone's bucket list; its definitely on mine. Train travel isn't for everyone....apparently.
Elsa says:
June 23, 2010, 6:54 pm
Too bad you had such a horrible experience. I've always had romantic fantasies about train travel too and I finally took a three and the half hour trip from Vancouver, BC (Canada) to Seattle, WA - and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Funny, we got the "keep your shoes on at all times" announcement too, which I thought was weird.
Lynette says:
June 23, 2010, 7:05 pm
But Bella, airline flights are delayed, cancelled and diverted all of the time; late arrivals are not unique to train travel. And I've come across some beligerent passengers when traveling by plane as well. I've never let negative airline experiences (can you say lost luggage?) stop me from flying. I've traveled by train round trip between Atlanta and New Orleans and had a very enjoyable experience. My sister took a sleeper car from New Jersey to Atlanta with my toddler-aged niece and she raved about her trip. I don't think that I would discourage anyone who is considering traveling by train, but like Simone said--train travel isn't for everyone.
alicia e. says:
June 23, 2010, 7:17 pm
Wow...seemed like you and your friend made the best out of a crazy trip.
QueenMelmendi says:
June 23, 2010, 7:21 pm
Glad you made it home safe, and had some good times on the ride. I TOTALLY agree with Ms. Joyce, and this is coming from a 28 year old. Boycotting BP, especially BP gas stations is going to do more harm than good. The BP gas stations are usually owned by local small business owners. They didn't have anything to do with the spill, they just want to take care of themselves and their families like the rest of us. This oil FLOOD (I refuse to call it a spill. Spills are when a specific amount of fluid is released. This is an almost never ending amount of oil.) is going to cause gigantic ripples across an already stressed world economic system. BP going out of business would devastate it. Just in the U.S. we'd have to pay for the cleanup, all of the unemployed fisherman, oil rig workers, restaurant workers, hotel employees... the list could go on forever. The economy is a house of cards, one good wind or a card out of place, the whole thing could come crashing down. We need to be chanting BUY BP, not boycott it.
Courtney aka glamah says:
June 23, 2010, 7:26 pm
The only decent train ride I ever had from a food perspective was between Vienna and Budapest.Goulash and wine! Unfortunalety there was a derailment and we were stuck and trapped on the train for 8 hours until we were free to go.Missed the Opera that night but had great convos with other passengers. My Mom took an Amtrack cross country to Seatlle and loved it. I think she had a sleeper car. It's a shame because the concept of train travel is great in such a beautiful country like the US.
Courtney aka glamah says:
June 23, 2010, 7:32 pm
Oh and I'm glad you wrote about BP. Ppl are to Quick to rush and boycott and complain without really looking at all the consequences and imapct. I only wish ppl got this up in arms about other issues as well.
DougThompppson says:
June 23, 2010, 7:38 pm
Sorry to hear this !!!!! don't give up on train travel .. try it in England, France or Italy some time ... it will be much better...
bella says:
June 23, 2010, 7:55 pm
hahahahaha!! NO. I had those visions too. A day trip for 5 hours may be nice, though...
bella says:
June 23, 2010, 7:56 pm
Hey Lola!! It was so nice to meet you in DC! I think I could hang for 8-9 hours, even - it's the overnight part that's the worst! Having lots of room around you helps. Ugh, no more overnight travel for me!
bella says:
June 23, 2010, 7:58 pm
LOL!! Had no idea about the SATC connection! I definitely had an adventure. And the fun I had in DC more than made up for it!
bella says:
June 23, 2010, 8:00 pm
I gotta admit my own fault in aspects of this trip, and the next time I wind up having to take a train I'll know basic important stuff. Like, know what kind of train you're taking! The two story train was much cooler than the regular train. Having a big dining car with real food would definitely have made a difference. Dying to go back to New Orleans! But that may have to be via airplane...
8thlight says:
June 23, 2010, 8:08 pm
I'm VERY familiar with the train you took. I used it to get back and forth between Pittsburgh & Chicago. The key is to spend most of your time in the lounge. You can stretch out and get a better view of your surroundings from the windows there. Can't say I ever needed a blanket. I just nodded off in the clothes I wore. I mainly traveled in the winter so I was always comfortable. I must say that your car was a lot "darker" than any car that I had been in. I'm usually an ink drop in a glass of milk. lol I guess it gets dark the closer you get to DC. In regards to the price, if you are an AAA member you can get a discount. I know that my tickets between Chicago & Pittsburgh were far cheaper than any plane ticket. It sounds like you had a nice time overall. If it went too smoothly you wouldn't have this blog to write. lol
Christine says:
June 23, 2010, 9:16 pm
OH how I feel your pain, some 12 years ago my Mom booked us an Amtrack down from NJ to Florida to visit my cousin for the wedding. It was around spring break and tickets were very expensive, and I guess she didn't want to have to drive with two teens too young to drive. What would have been a 17 hour drive took some 24 hours. We would have been better off driving 8 and a half hours each day and staying in a hotel. Thankfully no one got crazy...yeesh. You can't get ready to beat up a conductor while quoting Parliament Funkadelic. Mind blowing. Yeesh!
Imani says:
June 23, 2010, 9:46 pm
Thanks so much for sharing that! It was funny and informative. "Am I gonna have to turn this mutha out?" is going to be my new catch phrase. LOL! A friend and I were actually considering taking the Amtrak from Atlanta to New York which is about 18 hours, I think. Anyway, when I logged onto their website and saw that it was just about as expensive as an airplane ticket I was shocked but I decided that it MUST be relaxed and classy (like I'd always imagined). Needless to say, I'm glad I read your post. :P Sorry it was such a crazy trip but I'm sure you two handled it with style :)
beautifulcurare says:
June 23, 2010, 10:38 pm
I'm sorry that you and Luvvie went through so much crap, but dang, it makes me glad I missed my train to BWB! I had the same grandiose ideas about overnight trip on Amtrak...
Cocoa Fly says:
June 23, 2010, 11:22 pm
Maybe we should start calling CP time Amtrak time. LOL. Every time I've taken Amtrak I arrived to my destinations late. But I have family who take the train from coast to coast. They get a sleeper car. Having your own bed and bathroom makes the experience better. But I will say last time I was on the train the dining car served good buffalo wings. :)
nyc/caribbean ragazza says:
June 24, 2010, 12:27 am
Turn this motha out?! Hilarious. I agree Amtrak is great for short day trips but overnight? Not unless you get a sleeper car. I loved the infamous Sex and the City episode where Carrie and Samantha take the train cross country. There was nothing glamorous about it.
LadyJ says:
June 24, 2010, 2:32 am
I am so glad I read this. I was considering a Amtrak this summer with my grandson, to give him a chance to sightsee. Glad I read this. I am totally grossed out. Thank you!
cool_caramel says:
June 24, 2010, 7:16 am
I'm a usual lurker, but I must say I can't believe I saw you at the W Hotel! I was chillin' with some friends in the lounge prior to heading to the rooftop, and I saw you walk by. I was thinking to myself that looks like Afrobella, but brushed it off cause I didn't know you were in DC. That's crazy! BTW, 4 of the 5 of us were reppin' hard for the natural bellas.
Victoria says:
June 24, 2010, 10:16 am
Omygosh. So sorry you did not get any decent sleep on the train! At least a lot of the people were nice. My personal take on train rides: They get REALLY COLD (i have always taken the train in the winter) It's impossible to sleep during the night because people insist on walking up and down the corridors And...I agree, the food sucks. BUT you can't beat the views and the pace of life as seen from a train can be a great change! :)
flygyrl72 says:
June 24, 2010, 2:26 pm
Hah! Funny post Bella. Never have taken the train, because of price plus time, it just never seemed worth it. But I too, have always had romantic notions of going chugging thru scenic countrysides, etc. I wonder if the European trains are any better?....Hmmm...
Jenene says:
June 24, 2010, 2:28 pm
That's exactly what I thought about when I read the caption. The epi where Carrie and Samantha travel cross country in a deluxe sleeper the size of a sardine can. LOL!
Pets says:
June 24, 2010, 2:34 pm
I rode British trains and seems same story just different country.
Linda says:
June 24, 2010, 2:50 pm
Bella... I LOVE, LOVE Chicago! In my opinion Chicago and Toronto are the only two 'real' cities in the mid-west (I grew up in metro Detroit)! BUT, when it comes to travel in-and-out of Union Station and O'Hare airport .....no, no, no. Train travel in the USA: keep it to six hours or shorter, bring your own food, good book/music/laptop, comfortable shoes, and you will be just fine.
nolagirl says:
June 24, 2010, 2:52 pm
so I have never traveled by train because of the SATC episode...... but they had a sleeper car. My mother and father did to Chicago ( from New Orleans) and loved it. They had a sleeper car too. I had no idea people were boycotting BP.... I guess I have not read anything about it, my fear has always been they would go bankrupt... but maybe I am closer to the problem than others. great post! I have been missing this page. I am getting used to the new layout ( r old maybe?)
Silver Pearls says:
June 24, 2010, 8:56 pm
Thanks for sharing your experience. My sister, her kids and I had the very same fantasy...until I read this and shared it with her. LOL! Sounds like you were on the train version of Soul Plane. LMBO! Uh uh, I just can't go that route. Thanks for the warning! I'll stick to cars and planes.
Notorious Spinks says:
June 25, 2010, 1:58 am
I want to take a train trip but I think Ill let you make my reservations since you know what to look for ;). LOL!
gina says:
June 25, 2010, 4:32 pm
Oh Bella!!!! Wow!!!! I'm not surprised. I know I take the trip from Chicago to Detroit often and it can be horrific.
LBell says:
June 26, 2010, 11:06 am
It's been a while since I've ridden Amtrak, but it doesn't sound like it's improved much. Sorry! I'm guessing you rode the Capitol; I've ridden it and the Lake Shore Limited out of Chicago Union Station. I totally understand the romance of train travel, but seriously, if you're going to travel overnight and you want to keep at least some of those romantic fantasies intact, you HAVE to get a sleeper berth. Sadly, this is one of those things where our independence as Americans really costs us because we could have some truly awesome train options (including high-speed) if enough people really got behind it.
Kweenie says:
June 26, 2010, 4:52 pm
Sleeper cars are the way to go. Done that before through continental Europe on the way to Italy and it was fine!
Karyn says:
June 28, 2010, 1:54 pm
This is the funniest thing I've read in a long time! Thank you for your honesty about the "un-romanticism" behind train travel
stephanie says:
July 3, 2010, 11:20 am
This reminds me of the SATC episode when Carrie and Samantha took the train from NY to LA. Looking for glam, but instead getting the total opposite. I used to ride the train from Philly to NC as a kid. I do no want to do that as an adult. AT ALL! Loved your story!
Jennifer says:
July 6, 2010, 10:05 am
Go by sleeper car. My husband and I traveled from ATL to New Orleans via Amtrak in 2005. The dining cars were nice, and there were several options on the menu. It was a long ride, but much more comfortable and private.
TheCubicleChick says:
July 6, 2010, 2:04 pm
I took Amtrak in November from D.C. to NY and it was about a 3 hour ride. It was uneventful. I was also thinking of taking it from STL to Chicago, which is about five hours. I think anything more, I will stick to the plane ride.
ttara says:
July 7, 2010, 3:00 pm
OMG...that's almost as bad as when I took Amtrak from Detroit to NYC and was 24 HOURS late...cellphone died, parents worried, frozen tracks, popcorn for meals...never. The train travel we dream of is in Europe. Period.
the diva says:
July 14, 2010, 10:20 am
This was wake-up call for me! I have wanted to take amtrak for like forever! Like your hubby, my hubby keeps telling me that it's not what I think. I imagine mayself and the kids, walking through the train, and having meals at those same white table-clothed tables you spoke of. I may have to rethink, this plan. The trip I researched said it would be between 18 hours and 23 hours. Now like you I figured I would be sleeping peacefully during this time. Hmmmm... Maybe I'd better check flight prices. the diva
Kimmie says:
July 20, 2010, 2:29 pm
I had the misfortune of taking the Amtrak from Richmond, VA to DC for about 6 days straight for a court case. I had been summoned to court for my job. Everyday at 5am getting on the train. I was excited at first. Then as I was wrapped up trying to sleep one morning, a mouse ran down the wall alongside my leg. I FREAKED! I cannot even watch movies w/mice in them. I told the conductor & he said OK they'd remove the car & check for the mouse once we got to DC. Umm what do I do NOW! So much to the annoyance of my fellow passengers they emptied the car & made everyone move. I still wouldn't sit down. A couple next to us had a baby that they put on the floor which was bad enough. But then they poured Cheerios ON THE FLOOR OF THE TRAIN to let him graze. I told them there was a mouse on the train & besides THAT the floor is not the cleanest. They looked at me like I was crazy & continued to let their infant eat off THE FLOOR OF AN AMTRAK TRAIN! I started thinking people like that were the reason there were mice on the train to begin with. I stood the whole way that day but got over my fears for later trips. I would take the train from VA to NYC to see a dermatologist in the city every 6wks for laser. I never slept though. Always on guard & watching for Mickey.
ILuvMe!!! says:
July 23, 2010, 10:42 am
I grew up on the train (amtrak) and I love it. However, I will admit that it is not what it use to be... I also agree that you should never do a long distance trip on amtrak but short trips are lovely esp if you can take a trip that will have great scenery. I love the St. Louis to Chicago trip its about 5 hours. A few tips for amtrak.. *Bring your own food, snacks, drinks *Take the train on off peek times *Like Bella stated bring a blanket its very cold *Head phones are a must esp when you get the extra loud person or want to drown out the talkative stranger *Try not to take bathroom breaks on the train but when they stop at the stations or have station breaks.
Summer says:
October 8, 2010, 2:49 pm
I'm going to NOLA in December and intend on visiting Memphis for two nights. Is the train ride safe? Are there taxis readily available at 10:30pm in Memphis to take me to the Heartbreak Hotel?
Brett Wrape says:
January 17, 2011, 5:08 pm
it's good to see this info in your submit, i was wanting the same however there was not any correct useful resource, thanx now i've the link which i was in search of my research.
Andrew says:
January 21, 2011, 4:56 pm
Train travel nowadays isn't as romantic as a trip on the Super Chief back in the '40s, but then again, air travel isn't as glamourous as it was in the '60s, and even driving has lost most of its vide of independence and relaxation. Of course, you can still have your vision, but you didn't include possible delays or rude attendants either. If you're wanting an experience like that on Amtrak, the only train I can think that offers that is the Coast Starlight and its pacific parlor car... but only for 1st class passengers.. :P
Andrew says:
January 21, 2011, 5:04 pm
Don't expect much romance out of flying either, unless you consider the TSA's frisking "romantic". Train travel tends to appeal more to those who prefer car rides over flying anyway. Even so, the relatively short rides (like the one your mom took) are the best potential market for train travel, but unless the Feds or the States step in to upgrade the Infrastructure, it's going to be a long ride. If you book far enough in advance, it'll be cheaper than greyhound anyway.
Andrew says:
January 21, 2011, 5:11 pm
Plane ride from STL to Chicago is going to take just as long, so I'd prefer the train. If you're the person who prefers flying anyway, the long-distance Amtrak trains don't have much appeal. Yet not enough people take passenger trains seriously, and at the same time they're expecting some sort of romantic journey.
Andrew says:
January 21, 2011, 5:20 pm
What did you expect, the Super Chief or the TGV? What route are you going on? Expectations are a huge part of the traveling experience, Amtrak or any other mode. Although lots of people are deterred from riding Amtrak by people's bad experiences on certain trains, ask yourself this: are you deterred from flying by horror stories of people being stuck on planes for hours on end, canceled flights, or the TSA?
Andrew says:
January 21, 2011, 5:33 pm
Sorry to hear about your bad experience. As for the dirty bathrooms, I gotta say WTF. I hate dirty bathrooms, regardless if I'm driving, flying, or taking the train. Although the delays are bad, they aren't always Amtrak's fault, and steps can be taken beforehand to prevent the chances of missing a connection or important event. Delays by themselves aren't too bad, but rude attendants is what makes any journey suck. Honestly, you probably wouldn't have such a bad view of Amtrak if the attendants weren't rude to you and your friend. IMO, that's worse than delays, but for some reason in people's stories, rude attendants seem to be included along with a multi-hour delay. Being separated from your friend really sucks, but it's probably something that could happen on a flight as well. Heck, all of these things could have happened to you on a flight. But would it make you never want to fly again because it wasn't as glamorous as it once was? Probably not. In my view, try out Amtrak again, and but don't go on that route.
rachelle says:
September 23, 2011, 10:23 am
really awesome post. i came across your blog while i was doing a google search on amtrak. i was super excited before i read this. on the 30th of oct i will be leaving from miami to atlanta which will take almost 28 hrs. like a genius i did not book a sleeper b/c i was being frugal. lol... i was also envisioning the dining carts and white table clothes... hmmmm we will see what happens.
sarah says:
September 24, 2011, 4:55 am
I googled reviews and it brought me here... well, I have a 26 hr trip myself from MT to CA next month. I really do need the honest review from someone honest. I have taken the greyhound from MT to NM and it was HORRIBLE... yet sometimes I got to see a movie, and if it werent for my game and music devices I wouldv'e stuck a pen in my eye. I hope the amtrak isn't any worse!! I figure it would at least be a tiny bit cleaner but fro what I hear.. Im not too sure now!! thank you for your input!
Patrick says:
March 3, 2013, 4:43 am
FYI, the reason they make the announcement about wearing shoes is due to the rocking/bouncing motion of the cars. The height difference between cars when passing in between can be as much as 6" on a big bounce. One ill timed step and it's goodbye toes! (Possible, not probable).
Mikey says:
April 4, 2013, 7:32 pm
MORE than the cost of an airline ticket. I thought it might be "fun" to start a vacatin by train instead of air. Wow was I shocked to see how much more expensive the train is...all so you can get there a lot slower. Why would anybody choose train over flying?
Anon says:
November 26, 2013, 11:06 pm
I can't imagine nobody's mentioned this...the fault is entirely your own. If you're going to be traveling overnight, book a sleeper! If you want to be stuck in coach for 28 hours, go ahead, but for Amtrak long distance a sleeper car is a MUST. Coach is for people who get off at intermediate stops.
Chicago painter says:
March 14, 2014, 1:06 pm
I just decided to skip amtrak -Thank you for saving me from that. I thought it may be fun but looks like nightmare. Airfare is comparable so a few extra saved hours will spend with my friends in Brooklyn Bar.
Thelma says:
April 13, 2014, 2:17 am
My friend and I did a 6 week trip by Amtrak stopping off at different places on our way. We stayed in NY for 2 weeks and went on to Chicago. From Chicago we flew to SanFran and then home. We loved the trip. Our longest was 16 hours and yeah a gripe would be the state of the toilets over night. Other than that it was great. Met nice people in the diningroom and never had any trouble in any of the carriages we were in. This was in 2011 when we were 67 yrs and we are doing it again this year at 70!! Going a different way this time..Maybe we are a hardy lot from downunder.
Lucky Joestar says:
April 18, 2014, 5:25 pm
The only overnight train ride I’ve ever done in my life was from Varna (on the Black Sea coast of Bulgaria) to Budapest. It was on the Hungarian national railway. I had the sleeper cabin all to myself, and, with it being Eastern Europe, even first-class was affordable. As the train crossed into Romania, I waved to a Bulgarian soldier walking along the Danube. The only bad was a mosquito buzzing around the cabin, but I squished it. I don’t know how prices are these days, but everything was cheap when I was there. By the way, on the overnight train, did they stop at every city on the way, with passengers boarding and alighting at all hours of the night, or was it from start to finish with no stops in between? Mine had no stops other than for border checkpoints.
Andrew Phillips says:
April 23, 2014, 4:50 pm
Get the F over yourself !!! LOL!!! You really, REALLY need to make that same trip via the "Hinges of Hell" that is GREYHOUND.....THEN post another review about AMTRAK! I kick myself every single day for not discovering AMTRAK a long time ago! I personally speak from experience!!!
Chris Rose says:
May 20, 2014, 10:34 am
I too had this vision of seeing all the countryside from NYC to Fort Lauderdale.What I actually got was a cramped freezing cold cabin (it was high Summer) Not a lot to see as the train went mainly through cuttings and two cabin attendants screeching at each other down the compartments.Was provided with a thin pillow and a blanket my dog would have turned his nose up at. Talk about 3rd world. The meals were OK but that was the only saving grace.NEVER AGAIN
Fiona Chan says:
July 2, 2014, 1:54 pm
I was just wondering if I should take the train from Chicago to DC! I've heard about Amtrak being late by hours and everything, so I'm glad I made sure to google reviews! I'm also surprised by the commute time. Guess I'll just fly. Thanks for your review!
injection mold says:
September 18, 2014, 3:00 pm
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Mary says:
November 11, 2014, 2:02 am
Hey hey! Which train were you on? I was thinking about taking this same route... on the 30 Capitol Limited. Same one you were on?
Michelle says:
January 3, 2015, 7:13 am
Thank you so much for posting this! I was thinking the exact same thing!
Beetz mee says:
January 31, 2015, 11:51 am
Folks, this is why government run anything proves the private sector ia always better. Period. And people wonder why Obama care is so f'd up.....sigh......no matter, on to trains. This has to be the lowest rung of public transportation. At least, for the most part, buses are shorter in duration and equally miserable. One would rather piss and shit in a home depot homer bucket than use thes filthy, urine soaked accommodations. And the food! Mmmmmmmmmm, tasty. Nothing says fine dining like hotdogs and microwave pizza from food brands even Mexico would suspicious. Can't get too down on the help. They are, what they are. Any would leave for a 25 cent raise if they could get it. If you think riding one of these bed bug expresses is bad, try working one. All vestiges of dignity are extinguished along the way and looooong ago earlier in their "careers". Sure. AMTRAK is for the hearty. Former citizens of Russia might be okay with it but, that's about it. Them and maybe somalis or former citizens of Afghanistan. Take lots of vitamin c and bring a first aid kit and lots and lots of hand sanitizer. If you get a cut, seek prompt medical attention. No shit. Get a tetanus shot prior to travel and pretty much any shot you may need for those traveling to the Congo or Ebola River basin might need. Play it safe. These fecal boxes are best admired from the sidelines as you wait for your rental car. Charming? Sure. What rail isn't? But, in reality, they are something out a horror movie and you pay dearly for the abuse. Skip it. Hitch hiking is better.
Anna says:
May 6, 2015, 3:52 pm
If you decide to travel in a private room, my advice to you is - hold onto your valuables. We caught our train attendant, Pete, going through our things. He told us he was changing the sheets - an hour into the ride, with 5 more hours to go. At the end of the ride we realized that our wallet, which never left the room, was missing. What's worse - the train attendant actually asked us to wait 24 hours before doing anything, in case the wallet turns up. It didn't. We called customer service - they told us to call during the work week (it was Sunday.) We called on Monday - they opened a case and we haven't heard from them after that. A week later we called to follow up - and the representative told us that we should have called Amtrak police. Nobody told us this entity even existed. Very well, we reported the theft to Amtrak police, and today, two months after the incident, we are still waiting for the resolution. Oh, and the detective in charge of our case is now on a month-long vacation, and nobody else can touch his cases.
Josh says:
May 26, 2015, 6:58 pm
Try Alaska Railroad or the Rocky Mountaineer those are REAL passenger trains. Amtrak in this case AmTRASH isn't what it was VIA Rail in Canada is better.
Sandra Battle says:
August 16, 2015, 8:44 pm
I traveled by train on the "City of New Orleans " from Chicago to Jackson Mississippi. It was a pleasant trip. However, it was very cold at night and sleeping was a little uncomfortable. There food in their dinning car was good. They restrooms were very clean. However, they next time, I will get a sleeper car.
L.A.West says:
February 25, 2016, 1:18 pm
THE ONE AND ONLY WAY TO TRAVEL ACROSS THE COUNTRY ( USA ) IS A ROAD TRIP! Set it up to be leisurely, even paced, with hotel reservations all locked in. Don't stay anywhere where the room is under $150.00 per night -double queen beds-full amenities - and lots of close by dining choices. Talk to the AAA people about a trip-tic with all of the road maps, information you'll need to enjoy your trip. It's well worth it... Share the driving with another person...who is fully competent to drive safely so that you could take a nap... enjoy quiet time - no cell phone chatter - no constant music - and also be a match to yourself to enjoy conversation on the same level. If you take a pet - that will require a whole set of special circumstances to accommodate it. Stay focused and situation alert if you're two women - as we were... keep your cell phones fully charged...in case you need them. Have blankets, pillows, sweaters, light jackets, eye wear within easy reach - as the climate can suddenly and drastically change without warning. This is really obvious as you make your way through the mountainous regions. Have water, drinks, snacks, medications handy. Make rest stops to stretch, walk around, take in sights and points of interest, take photos. Don't forget to pack your cameras and binoculars. Make sure you stop mid day to enjoy a nice lunch... and get a fresh cup of Coffee to sip on when back on the road... Don't talk to strangers about where you're going or where you're from...if a man, take note his vehicle if you can. We found we being shadowed in by two guys in Iowa, who took notice of us at an Oasis station and tried to talk to us - I was savvy enough to notice them shadowing us - I tried to ditch them twice and they followed us into the little burgs I pulled into - back on the highway- we spotted a State Patrol Car in a truck weight station and instantly swung in right next the two Officers in their car - and pointing out we were trailed by two creeps- they went after them - we went on our way without further incidents. Our nights in our hotel room was very pleasant - we stayed at Holiday Inn Express - Marriott Inn - exclusively. We never took on more than 450 - 500 miles a day. We always hit the road at 8:30 AM and called it a day by 4:30 PM. Checked in at the Hotel, unload needed luggage - go for supper. In our Hotel Room by dusk if we dined out - showered - made our phone calls and progress reports to family - and then it was "Lights Out" by 9:30-ish... We did this four times - FOUR separate cross country road trips. Just two 40 year old women. Only one problem with being stalked. Wouldn't necessarily recommend this for young women... But what fun we had. I hate Flying since 9-11 - and would never take a bus or train.
Tama says:
June 10, 2016, 12:51 pm
Totally agree. AMTRAK SUCKS THE BIG KUMARA (sweet potato) as we say in New Zealand LOL!!! AMTRAK need to take a lesson from European trains. Cheap, classy and fast. Just saying LOL!!!
Jack Anthony says:
July 23, 2016, 12:41 am
I always get a sleeper room on the cross country Amtrak trips. I always have a wonderful time. My karma is that I have problems with the Amtrak trains being extra early. We arrived in Los Angeles from Chicago two hours early at 6am. So I had to wait 2 hours for my reserved limo ride to pick me up. On the next trip to San Francisco from Chicago we arrived again 2 hours early. Only once did I get an Amtrak train that arrived late and that was because a car refused to wait for the train to pass and we hit the car holding us up for two hours I have never been on a plane that was early much less on time.
Janis says:
January 18, 2017, 8:18 pm
Oh brother the silver metroliner used to be the fastest train around now it goes puff puff chug chug.the conductors don't care,goes with the job.the people that's another her story.anyway,it takes way too long to go from FLORIDA TO NY.THE SCENERY IS PRETTY,VTHW BATHROOMS STAY. CLEAN.I HEARD THE FOID IS EXPENSIVE.I HEARD BACK IN THE DAY THEY USED TO HAVE TRAIN COLLISIONS.MAYBE THSTS WHY SOOOOOO SLOW.
Adam V says:
March 29, 2017, 3:58 am
I'm currently on an Amtrak from Portland OR to Milwaukee WI. Got a roommate in the sleeper car, beyond cozy. But really I'm only commenting because of how decent everyone in this comment section is. It's a rarity for the internet.
Roche Odea says:
June 5, 2017, 3:27 pm
I've ridden AMTRAK a lot in the last 6 years and really enjoyed each ride: several times LA to Santa Fe and Albu, Albu to Chicago, Chi to New Orleans, NO to LA (Sunset Ltd). Chi to Portland, E'ville to Denver, and SLC and Emeryville to LA and E'ville to Salem, Oregon numerous times! Not luxurious but way, way better than a bus! Not sure what the lady wants but you have to be prepared to travel a certain mode. Don't like flying anymore, hate buses and love trains. The Sunset Ltd was the best! (New areas to me) Amtrak has actually improved a lot in the 6 years I've been riding! Great personnel, smooth rides (except for the City of NO) Going to Salem o again next week..
Rafael says:
June 5, 2017, 4:24 pm
Sitting in a bus right now, waiting to finish the last hour of a 25hr Amtrak journey. Haven't slept in 31 hours. I'm visiting my GF in Tehachapi as she makes her way up the Pacific Crest Trail. The plan WAS to stay a couple days, and then take the train back home to Portland, meaning 50hrs of amatrak in like 4 days but heeeeeelllllllllll nnoooooo. I learned my lesson! I don't care how much it costs, I'm flying back!
Lu M says:
March 30, 2018, 11:17 pm
We went to St. Paul from Albany by train. The first night the room was too small so then we upgraded to a nice room with shower. It was very boring between Chicago and St. Paul. The worst part was Chicago's Union Station. The pits and we had to wait four hours. We tried to tour Chicago and eat, but everything was closed, the people were very unfriendly and I hated Chicago. The train food was delicious.


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