Train trip on AmTrack

Discussion in 'Off Topic' started by bobo and horses, Sep 8, 2018.

  1. bobo and horses

    bobo and horses Senior Member

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    Anyone have any experiences traveling on AmTrack? We are in the process of planning Empire Builder train trip from Chicago to Seattle, with a layover at Glacier National Park. Getting sleeping accommodations, and planning in staying at McDonald Lodge in Glacier, reboarding train and staying a couple of nights in Seattle, flying back home.

    Anyone have a good/not so good trip on AmTrack?
     
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  2. Faster Horses

    Faster Horses Senior Member

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    My in laws took it to Washington DC from lower MI. They enjoyed it and felt the price was reasonable.

    That being said, they missed the freedom of being able to drive off into the sunset, and the schedule was not very set in stone (trains could be very early or very late, more often late).
     
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  3. bobo and horses

    bobo and horses Senior Member

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    Yea, I heard the late/early thing can be a problem. We will be renting a car when we get to Seattle, but the lodge has transportation to and from the rail station. Once we get to the lodge, there is also transport to trail heads, etc.

    My husband has always wanted to take a rail trip, and I have come around. My idea is sun/sand/sea. But, my son in law and daughter are really excited about this, so we are going to a travel agent to help us with the logistics. It seems to be quite complicated to figure out, lol.
     
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  4. manesntails

    manesntails Senior Member

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    I only took a train from Boston to NY City, way back when.
    My ankles swelled up and the seats cut the circulation to my legs.
    I'd rather take a plane.
     
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  5. slc

    slc Senior Member

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    I've traveled on Amtrak trains and buses so can compare the two.

    The train is generally much faster and less exhausting.

    The train passengers are generally less frightening as well, as are the train stations.
     
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  6. Shmee

    Shmee Senior Member

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    I took it from Portland to the Bay Area. The train goes up in the mountains in the middle of nowhere, so the views were spectacular. It was worth doing once. It sounds like your trip will also have great views.

    Amtrak tends to run late because they have to yield to freight trains.

    I have also taken Amtrak for shorter trips along both coasts, and it’s really nice to not have to worry about traffic. Going from San Diego to LA for Thanksgiving, my train would fly past all the cars on the highway.
     
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  7. bobo and horses

    bobo and horses Senior Member

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    We are making the trip as a major part of the vacation, which means the views are one of the most important. If all goes well, and the train doesn’t have any major delays, the best views will be in the daylight hours.

    We are having bedroom accommodations, they are not large, but do have an enclosed bathroom with a shower. Two nights on train, dining car meals included, and also have a cafe car where snacks/drinks are available for additional cost. Stop over in Glacier, then back on train to Seattle. Three days there, whale watching, yea!, and then flying back to Milwaukee, wi, where we will have left our vehicle. Our kids will be flying into Detroit.

    There are club cars, where unless the seats are reserved we can go for viewing, has very large windows.

    Thanks for the opinions, were helpful. If anyone else has anything to add, go ahead! Any and all advice is welcomed.
     
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2018
  8. aeternal

    aeternal Senior Member

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    I've taken amtrak quite a lot, though mostly for short trips, and I strongly prefer it to both flying and buses. I was living in Chicago for several years and regularly traveling back to Michigan, and the stress of driving in Chicago and lack of parking to keep a car meant that it was significantly easier for me to take amtrak to Michigan, which is the route I've taken most. Only a 4.5hr trip, but I always really enjoyed it. Union Station in Chicago is very nice and I believe since you have sleeping accommodations that gives you access to one of the premier lounges for amtrak passengers, maybe the metropolitan lounge? I am unsure and I could be wrong, but might be something to consider as it does get busy as some of the metra trains also enter and depart from Union Station, so it can get kind of hectic, and the lounges are definitely a bit removed and more quiet. If you don't automatically have access, you can upgrade to get lounge access for a pretty reasonable price for the day, too, which also gives you priority boarding I think!

    I've always found very friendly folks on amtrak and despite having pretty severe social anxiety, have found myself in some pretty engaging and enjoyable conversations with other passengers. You definitely get a different, friendlier crowd traveling by train than you do by bus or plane in my experience. People are always interested in chatting about.. well.. anything! But definitely the more experienced rail travelers tend to be willing to give some tips and etiquette tricks if you say it's your first trip, which I appreciated the first few times I traveled by rail.

    I've never gotten sleeping accommodations so I can't speak to those, but I've always found the seats comfortable and pretty decently sized. The trains also have wifi, although sometimes the signal goes out, so don't be shocked if it does!

    My one piece of advice - at union station, it can be hard to find an amtrak employee or get their attention if you need any help, so get there early! You want to give yourself plenty of time to sort out where to be and get any questions answered if you have any.

    Have a fantastic trip!!
     
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  9. PintoArab

    PintoArab Senior Member

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    My grandmother usually takes an Amtrak trip every year for her birthday and sometimes takes two if she can afford it! She adores Amtrak, the only complaint I've heard from her is that the food is pricey, so she packs lots of her own snacks like pretzels and granola. She has been on every route Amtrak offers and even once took a month long trip with them.

    I hope you enjoy your trip!
     
  10. bobo and horses

    bobo and horses Senior Member

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    Yup, we get the lounge and first boarding, should for the price! But, it’s an adventure, and that is a big part of it. Food is included in the package deal, so that’s a good thing, as is baggage boarding, so we don’t have to worry about it, I hope! We hope to get to Chicago in time to explore the station, as it it pretty fantastic, I hear.

    We are really excited about this trip, hope we don’t have any major road blocks. I know that there are federal rules about length of time the employees can work, so sometimes there are holds while a new crew is brought aboard. And we have to give way for freight trains, sometimes it can be a considerable amount of time, but, here’s hoping!
     
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