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Amtrak Train Travel

Updated on August 13, 2015

Traveling by Amtrak for the First Time

Wondering what to expect on your first train trip? We did too! My daughter and I recently traveled by Amtrak Train. We weren't sure what to expect or exactly how things would go so we kept a record of all that happened so we could share it here with you. We learned many things and hope this article will help other first time train travelers with their first train trip.

To be a little more accurate, this was indeed my daughter's first train trip and my first travel by train in 25 years. Since I don't remember much of that trip so many years ago and considering how all things change over time, it certainly felt like my first trip.

This Amtrak train photo used under Creative Commons from Flickr

How do you spell it? Amtrak not Amtrak!

There is no letter "c" in the name

After studying up for this article, I came across some information where it was noted that most people spell Amtrak incorrectly as Amtrak. Notice it ends in "k" not "ck". I typed this incorrectly myself when we first started thinking about taking the train. Just remember when you search for Amtrak, do not spell it with a "c". If you type it incorrectly into the web address, you will get what I call a "fake website" that will lead you to all sorts of other fake websites. Be careful when you type the name.

...my mom said

"Why don't you take the train?"

What a great question.

Why wouldn't we?

Amtrak train route
Amtrak train route

Making the decision to take the train

Drive our van vs. Ride the train

We would be traveling from St. Augustine, Florida to Columbia, SC (east coast of the US) and back again for a wedding. Here's a map that shows the Amtrak train route from Jacksonville to Columbia (we departed from Jacksonville because there is no train station in St. Augustine).

We decided on our approximate travel dates and spoke with family to confirm our trip when my mom said "Why don't you take the train?" What a great question. Why wouldn't we? We decided right then to look into it. We would weigh the cost of gas, wear and tear on our vehicle and the convenience of riding instead of driving for the 6-7 hour trip.

Traveling by car is 340 miles one way. Doing some quick math, the cost of gas alone would be about $90.00 round trip. The cost of round trip train tickets (coach class) was $156. It's important to note here that had I booked the tickets a few days earlier, the fare would have been only $135.00. There's more to say about getting the best price on tickets later in this article.

We decided for the train!

Buying the train tickets - Getting the BEST deal

Amtrak has a great website and I highly recommend buying your tickets online. At Amtrak.com you type in cities, dates and number of passengers and presto they give you a schedule and a price. The middle of the week seems to be cheaper than the weekends. And buying your tickets several days in advance gives you the best prices. Plug in different dates on the Amtrak Fare Finder and see what I mean.

You can have the tickets mailed to you, or if there's not enough time to mail them, you will be prompted to print out a confirmation page with a reservation number (that's what we had to do). I've included a picture here to show what the confirmation page looks like. Keep this and take it with you to the train station*. Hand over your confirmation page at the ticket office (or scan at the Quik-Trak machine) and you will receive your tickets. Here's a gentleman getting his tickets at the ticket office. *But remember there is NO TICKET OFFICE at remote unstaffed stations.

Be sure to check out the Passenger Discount section on Step 2 of the online reservation process. There are discounts available to AAA members, military, children, seniors (62+) and more.

I was impressed by this: When the fare is calculated online there are no extra charges tacked on at the end! $156 was $156 period. No bells and whistles and taxes and surcharges and this charge and that charge. It was exactly what was calculated and no more.

*This doesn't apply for unmanned stations! It gets a little complicated if you are boarding the train from a "platform" (meaning there are no service personnel). In this case, they will always mail the ticket to you OR if there is not enough time, you will be prompted to call Amtrak and get a "code" which you MUST HAVE to board the train. You will then PAY ON THE TRAIN!

Which stations will we use?

We had an important choice to make

For our departure we learned that there is no Amtrak station in St. Augustine, Florida!* Well, who knew? So we searched for the next closest station...and there are two of them. The closest one is in Palatka, Florida (25 miles away), and the next closest one is in Jacksonville, Florida (40 miles away). We chose to depart from Jacksonville...but why did we choose the station that is much farther away? There is an important reason so listen carefully. NOT ALL AMTRAK STATIONS ARE STAFFED. That is to say, some are only

platforms in the middle of what seems like nowhere.

Here's the description of the Palatka Station Services: No Station Hours, No Ticket Office Hours, No Quik-Trak Hours, No Checked Baggage Hours, No Help With Baggage, No Shelter.

Now this may have been fine if we were experienced train travelers, but not for our first trip. Matter of fact, now that we know what to expect we may depart from Palatka in the future. I wouldn't recommend learning the ins and outs of traveling by train at an unstaffed platform.

As for our arrival, there is a station in Columbia, SC very near our destination. No decisions to make there.

Here's a link to find an Amtrak station near you: Amtrak Train Stations

*Update: Our local newspaper reported on 8/19/2009, "Within three years, Oldest City residents could very well be able to hop an Amtrak commuter passenger train and get off at any city along Florida's Atlantic coast." We may be getting a station in St. Augustine after all.

*Update: I've now read that a tract of land has been chosen for the train station site. It's only 2 miles from my house!

This Amtrak train station photo used under Creative Commons from Flickr

How many bags can we take? - And can we carry them on?

Well, that was one of my first questions and here's the answer: You can take 2 carry-on bags per person (doesn't include your purse) as long as they are no larger than 28" x 22" x 14" and not over 50 pounds. In case you don't have a tape measure handy, that is pretty big for a suitcase. For the 2 of us, it allowed us to have 4 pieces of luggage and our purses too. Here are the 4 bags we carried on.

If your suitcases are bigger and/or you have more than 2 per person, you'll need to check your baggage at the station. The picture in the lower right shows people checking their luggage for the trip. Check out those details at the Amtrak website: Amtrak Baggage Details

You'll have to think about whether or not you want to carry-on or check your baggage. For us, I preferred carry-ons for a few reasons and it worked out fine. We simply stored our carry-on suitcases above our seats while in route.

Amtrak has a rewards program!

Earn and redeem points for free Amtrak travel and more.

Amtrak Guest Rewards

We arrived at the station too umm...early!

Our train was to leave Jacksonville at 10:57 pm. I allowed for travel time to the station (1 hour). And I figured I should allow one extra hour for waiting in lines.

I'll know better next time! We sat in the waiting area for an hour. Here's a picture of the empty train station. Waiting...waiting...waiting. We WILL NOT do this again. Next time I'm going to allow only 20 minutes extra.

NOTE: My new 20 minute rule won't apply if I am checking baggage or traveling during a holiday rush.

Helpful links

*The information provided in this article was current at the time I traveled. If you have specific questions or need to confirm any information for your specific train route or train car, use the link below to check out Amtrak's website.

Here's what happened: The train arrived on time. We handed in our tickets and got in line to board the train. There is no assigned seating on your ticket (in coach class), but as you board the train the conductor will reference a seating chart and tell you where to sit. Conductors keep groups together as much as possible.

When it was our turn to board, I informed the conductor "Two to Columbia". He flipped his seating charts over and over and sighed. He checked them again, hesitated and said, "Seats 59 and 60." Humm, I wondered...What's the problem? Why doesn't he want to give us those seats? Why did he hesitate? Well, it was soon very clear.

Imagine a train car. Two seats on either side of a middle aisle. All seats have windows etc. Did I just say all seats have windows? Wrong! The first set of seats at the very front of the train car DO NOT HAVE WINDOWS! These very seats were the seats assigned to us.

Not only did we not have a window, we were staring at a wall covered in brown carpet. And because we were at the front of the car, a bright light above us lighted the doorway. Trying to sleep with this bright light was a challenge and I ended up putting on my sunglasses hoping it would help. You can see the bright light and the brown carpeted wall in this picture.

We must have looked pathetic trying to get comfortable in those seats, because the conductor came by and tried to cover that light with an Amtrak brochure. Bless his heart. When it didn't work he promised to move us at the next stop (Savannah, GA). And he did. YAY!

I originally thought our new seats were in some sort of upgraded accommodation, but soon realized they were just "regular" coach seats. The new seats were a major improvement and we were able to get some sleep.

Look at the nice big window at our new seats!

Look at the nice big window at our new seats!
Look at the nice big window at our new seats!

Train Travel Checklist

Don't leave home without these items

1. Train tickets! If you ordered your tickets to be delivered through the mail, you will receive your actual train tickets from Amtrak. If you purchased them online and are picking them up at the station, be sure to take your Confirmation printout with you! If you are boarding from an unstaffed station and didn't have time to have your tickets mailed to you - you will HAVE TO HAVE your special code Amtrak provided.

2. Light weight blanket! I had no idea we would want some sort of blanket for the train ride. The train can get chilly and if you sleep on the train, you will want one for covering up. See the link below for the perfect blanket/pillow for a train ride.

3. Pillow. Amtrak will provide you with a pillow that measures about 18" x 10" and is about an inch thick. I'm not being ungrateful, but just want to give you a heads up that you will want your own larger, thicker pillow.

4. MP3 player. I highly recommend an MP3 player for your trip. My daughter brought her MP3 player and used it several times. Since we traveled at night (dark outside), both on our way to South Carolina and on our way home to Florida, there wasn't much to see and she enjoyed taking along some music.

5. Crossword puzzles or a notepad. No reason to let that travel time go to waste. On the back of the seat in front of you, there will be a flip-down adjustable table. You simply release the switch and you'll have a simple desk.

6. Water and a few snacks. Carry these in a tote bag and they will not count as carry-on luggage. On our trip up to South Carolina (first half of the trip) we ran out of bottled water! So we decided to walk down to the dining car to purchase something to drink. Little did we know the snack area had already closed for the night. Don't run out of something to drink like we did.

Great trip and now we are headed home.

Great trip and now we are headed home.
Great trip and now we are headed home.

More personal stories of Amtrak train trips - Adding here as I find similar stories of train tavel

*If YOU have blogged about a train trip, please let me know in the guestbook. I will add a link to your blog to offer a good variety of people's experiences on train travel.

Did you have a good experience?

Have you ever traveled by train in the US or abroad?

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    • profile image

      Heather 2 years ago

      Thank you so much for information . We are leaving out of Columbia to DC and this helped a lot!!!

    • Rangoon House profile image

      AJ 4 years ago from Australia

      We recently did some train travel in Asia and have in the US and Europe as well. It is always interesting and we keep repeating it.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Great lens on traveling via Amtrak! :-)

    • Hairdresser007 profile image

      James Jordan 4 years ago from Burbank, CA

      I've traveled by train in Alaska, Seattle to Portland, NYC Metro area, Europe and Brasil. I love going by train. It makes an easier transition for when you arrive and allows you to read and enjoy the scenery. One of my favorite trips was from London to Paris through the chunnel. I wish we had more train service here in the US!

    • joseph-sottile-16 profile image

      joseph-sottile-16 4 years ago

      Thanks for sharing your upbeat article.

    • StillPlaysWithT profile image

      StillPlaysWithT 4 years ago

      Awesome lens:) I took Amtrak between California and Texas a few times. You get to see a lot of countryside you wouldn't if travelling by car or bus.

    • NightMagic profile image

      NightMagic 4 years ago

      Thanks for all the tips. I had no idea that some stations aren't staffed or that you're only allowed so much luggage. I didn't realize some seats don't have windows either. Actually, I was surprised at quite a few things.

    • carolinarobin profile image

      carolinarobin 4 years ago

      Always wanted to travel by train!

    • Karli McClane profile image

      Psycho Free Zone 4 years ago from USA

      Not since I was a child, but I love trains!

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      No I haven't but we would like to. I will have to keep your lens in mind when we start planning.

    • profile image

      miaponzo 4 years ago

      I LOVE traveling by train (USA)... :)

    • profile image

      DebMartin 4 years ago

      I love the train. I take the VIA rail in Canada just about every summer. It's a great way to see the country and relax. Good for you. I hope you take Amtrak again and get wonderful seats right from the beginning.

    • squidoopets profile image

      Darcie French 4 years ago from Abbotsford, BC

      Years ago, we took the train a few times, I loved it. Wish I could travel that way more often :D

    • profile image

      MissMalaprop 4 years ago

      I've taken subway trains, and a few short train rides in Europe, but never Amtrak in the USA. I'd love to one day though!

    • waynekat profile image

      waynekat 4 years ago

      Looks like a fun way to see part of the US. Great lense. :)

    • mrdata profile image

      mrdata 4 years ago

      Thank you for your fantastic lens and congrats for your LOTD! I already traveled by Amtrak train. I remember that it was fast and comfortable.

    • michelleart profile image

      Michelle Collins 4 years ago from Florida

      Great lens! We have been thinking about doing this. Blessed!

    • flycatcherrr profile image

      flycatcherrr 4 years ago

      I've not travelled in a UStrain since I was a child, but I've travelled in the US on a train - there are places where Canadian trains take a shortcut across the border. :) Trains are a fun way to go on a long trip, as long as one has time to enjoy the journey and not just jump to the destination. It's one of my favourite ways to travel. European trains are particularly awesome - and fast!

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Leslie - I love train travel and do it about once a yr to see friends in Charleston SC. I live outside Philadelphia so I take a local train into 30th Street and get the through train to Charleston SC. Down in the daytime...about 12 hrs the same as driving but with no traffic in Washington DC...leaving about 7:30 am and arriving about 7:30 pm. For the trip back I get a night train with sleeping accommodations leaving about 9:30 pm and arriving in Phila about 9:30 am. Breakfast in the dining car between Washington DC and Baltimore. Then a local train back home. I can walk to the local station so it is really convenient...way more so than air travel. My husband has taken trips to Atlanta and from Chicago by train as well. I find that I arrive in better shape than if I went by car or plane but I think 12 hrs is about my limit as to distance. Someday I may tackle a longer one just to see.

    • Glenda Motsavage profile image

      Glenda Motsavage 4 years ago from The Sunshine State

      My husband and I travel on the Amtrak Auto Train quite often. The older we get, the more we appreciate someone else doing the driving :-) Great lens - thanks for sharing!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I am taking my first trip by Amtrak from North Carolina to California and then back. Probably a very long trip for my first time but I'm adventurous and a little crazy. I have done extensive research on what to expect on the train and what items I should bring. I'll be in coach the entire way. I refuse to fly so the train is a nice alternative to go visit my son whom I haven't seen in over a year and a half since he moved to California. Very appreciative of everyone telling of their experiences on Amtrak. Now know to take food, drinks, pillow, blanket, etc. I have read about a lot of positive experiences and also some not so pleasant. Although the not so pleasant ones seem to come from travelers who seem a little bit spoiled. It's the train so you shouldn't have expected the Ritz Carlton. I am so excited about this trip and will look past any inconveniences I might experience along the way. This is an adventure and I plan to treat it as such. 15 more days and I'll be off on the trip of a lifetime !!!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      great blog.. very informative and helpful

    • Gypzeerose profile image

      Rose Jones 5 years ago

      I am a big Amtrax - oops make that Amtrak - fan. I traveled on the trains in Europe extensively, and have taken Amtrak for some of my most enjoyable trips ever. I really suggest that you talk to an agent and being insistent to ask a lot of questions, we took a trip from Northern to Southern California and ended up taking an in-land train with a leg on a bus - and we found out that we could have taken a coastal train if they had told us about it. You can walk around on a train, it is just a healthy, fun, environmentally friendly way to go. Take a board game with you! I came here as a result of a challenge to find a lens about what I like to do in the summer: this is it. Squid Angel Blessed and pinned to my board "Travelling".

    • profile image

      theyellowfox 5 years ago

      I love that you travel by train with your daughter! I want to do this trip with my mom.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Fingers crossed, this was extremely helpful, the family and I are heading west to Wallyworld for a week taking the train for the frist time. I apperciate the time and effort you put into this blog.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Actually, I am on an Amtrak train right now, in a sleeper car. It is 1 am and I can't sleep. I feel like a martini - shaken. How can anyone sleep on these trains? Between the shaking, horn blowing and jarring jolts it is impossible. Everything else was fine.

    • Cinnamonbite profile image

      Cinnamonbite 5 years ago

      @agent009: I'd fly too if it wasn't for the TSA

    • Cinnamonbite profile image

      Cinnamonbite 5 years ago

      Just about to go on a train trip! Thanks for the tips! Will make a lens about it when I return

    • Ann Hinds profile image

      Ann Hinds 5 years ago from So Cal

      This was very helpful. We are planning a trip in 2013 and the train is still an option. We are going from California to Washington DC. I have driven it but spent my childhood riding the trains and want to share that experience with my husband and child. Things have changed (not always for the best) but I love train travel.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Hey Squidoo I have been working on a photo Blog for the last couple of years i just published it yesterday and there are a couple more routes to be added but it is basically finished . i wont explain as it explains itself with much thanks Loco Steve.. http://locoslococo.wordpress.com

    • profile image

      agent009 5 years ago

      I've been through Amtrak before, if possible, it's better to fly by train since it's faster and tends to cost less. I'll really only ride train if it's inexpensive.

    • Tamara14 profile image

      Tamara Kajari 6 years ago from Zagreb, Croatia, Europe

      Beautiful lens! I felt as I was with you all along... This is one of my "must do some day" things for sure :) Squid Angel blessed!

    • lesliesinclair profile image

      lesliesinclair 6 years ago

      Back in 1948 my mom hailed a train heading north in Oregon, and we rode to Astoria for the day. Then Mom took us back on the train (Astoria station), and the train stopped to let us off at a dirt road crossing. What a thrill that was.

    • efriedman profile image

      efriedman 6 years ago

      Yes, great experience. Good lens on travel by Amtrak. I will feature this on my newly published How to Ride a Train in Europe lens.

    • profile image

      farebuzzz 6 years ago

      @rt8ca: You can find travel tips in my lens..Have a look there.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      What a wonderful adventure and those first bad seats added to the experience for sure! I'd syy you just taught us Amtrak 101! I would love to go on a train trip someday.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      What a wonderful adventure and those first bad seats added to the experience for sure! I'd syy you just taught us Amtrak 101! I would love to go on a train trip someday.

    • profile image

      ShamanicShift 6 years ago

      This brings back memories of my cross-country Amtrak trek years ago, from Chicago to San Francisco -- not enough cars or seats until we were halfway there so fights broke out every stop, because back then the seats were "reserved" even in coach, but found to be occupied by someone whose seat was also already occupied, on down the line -- WOW, what excitement! But after the seating mess cleared up I could spend time in these upper sight-seeing domed-window areas. It was an adventure, all right -- SquidAngel blessed too!

    • rt8ca profile image

      rt8ca 6 years ago

      Well done!

      Great info on travelling with Amtrak.

      I will certainly link back to you for future reference.

      Please drop by my travel tips site when you can;

      holidaysforfamily

    • puzzlerpaige profile image
      Author

      puzzlerpaige 6 years ago

      @anonymous: Zac,

      I'm sorry for the late reply. Somehow I missed this message over the Christmas holidays. I hope you are following this guestbook and will see this message. How was the trip?

      We also took another trip on Amtrak in December. I need to post that experience too since it will include more information on some more things I've learned.

      Check back in if you see this.

    • Zen Automat profile image

      Zen Automat 6 years ago

      Great lens, a few years ago I took the train from Boston to San Francisco and back.. it was a great experience.. I had a sleeper cabin.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      i've traveled by train in india (there's just no good thing about their train systems... massive chaos) and from berlin to prague (nice trip, easy to navigate), but i've never taken a train in the U.S. i'm about to hop on an amtrak from albany to NYC in about 4 hours (it's already 2 hours delayed) and figured i'd do some last minute research. thanks for the info.

    • Barb McCoy profile image

      Barb McCoy 6 years ago

      I've traveled by train up and down the CA coast on Amtrak. Beautiful. Thanks for the great lens.

    • KBellamy1 profile image

      KBellamy1 7 years ago

      I've been wanting to give Amtrak a try. This was so helpful. Thanks for writing this lens.

    • ArtByLinda profile image

      Linda Hoxie 7 years ago from Idaho

      I have always wanted to travel by train just to see what I could see. Very informative and interesting lens!

    • profile image

      FamilyVacationDestinations 7 years ago

      Up/down east coast - always a good experience. You can even take your car if you want to.

    • hlkljgk profile image

      hlkljgk 7 years ago from Western Mass

      i love traveling by train.

    • Spook LM profile image

      Spook LM 7 years ago

      I went to boarding school many,many miles away and always by train. In those days we had a bed made up in our bunk and a real hard pillow. I've loved trains ever since although I can't remember the last time I was on one. SO SAD.

    • puzzlerpaige profile image
      Author

      puzzlerpaige 7 years ago

      @anonymous: Thank you for your story Ruth. It provides a great picture of what to expect on a long trip. Our trip was short so I don't have the perspective you've been able to provide. On my trip 25 years ago, I had a sleeper and I remember falling right asleep with all the train noises etc. If I had to travel for more than, say, 24 hours I know I'd be longing for a bed for sure.

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      I actually enjoyed the trip, for the most part, and I was with my family (husband and 3 kids), and if I had it to do over again, I'd get a room with its own toilet/shower facilities--it is an expensive trip, and you will smell sewage on occasion, and sometimes the crew is less than friendly, while others are fantastic and make up for the duds, the food is pretty good, the pillows are sad, the blankets are itchy, but the scenery is wonderful. I went 6,000 miles round-trip. Cost us $4g for 2 roomettes, and one family room each way. I would not mind doing it again, but ouch on the pocketbook! I loved the noise and the rocking back and forth. My kids liked it ok--but 3 days each way was starting to wear on my nerves. Shorter trips, cheaper prices, and I'd do it once a year to visit family instead of flying.

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      I've traveled across the country on Amtrak, and plan on doing it again this summer. The total trip was about four days, and it was one of the most amazing experiences I have had. You're very on point with this article, and I couldn't believe how affordable and pleasant my first trip was. If you're interested in hearing my story, head on over to http://www.metacomdesign.com/blog/2010/03/taking-t...

      Thanks again for a great article!

    • Bellezza-Decor profile image

      Bellezza-Decor 7 years ago from Canada

      I traveled by train from Calgary, Alberta to Brockville, Ontario, Canada. It was about a 2 1/2 day trip. I did have a little private room for sitting/sleeping. I really enjoyed the train travel and much prefer it over planes, if you have the time.

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      Hi,

      Thanks for your comment on my lens.

      Having done a few more, I thought it would be a good idea to join a Group that was interested in train travel.

      Then I found out that Groups were no more, they were in fact ex-groups, just lenses now.

      So I've made something for myself. Train Travel Compound Lens

      Hope that bit of HTML worked, otherwise the address is: http://www.squidoo.com/train-travel-compound-lens

      A compound lens is lots of little lenses that are grouped together to work as a single lens. Science teacher joke, sorry.

      I've tried to keep it simple, and am still relearning my HTML skills to make it a prettier.

      Since you have a great lens about Amtrak, I hope you will take the time to have a look at my work and perhaps join the group (with a small g) for mutual benefit.

      Comments are welcome, either at the Train Travel Forum, someone has to be first, or direct to me.

      Best wishes,

      Ian. aka Pan_narrans

    • Pryzym profile image

      Pryzym 7 years ago

      When my ex-husband left, the very first thing I did was take a train trip with my kids. It was so much fun! We had dinner in the dining car and spent most of the day in the observation car watching the scenery. It was a fantastic experience. Because of the security hassle these days with air travel, we will be taking the train more often.

    • kateloving profile image

      Kate Loving Shenk 7 years ago from Lancaster PA

      I've just returned to this lens to ####bless#### it!!

    • puzzlerpaige profile image
      Author

      puzzlerpaige 7 years ago

      Hi Surfie!,

      In my opinion, the leg room is good. On the bottom of each seat there is a foot rest (it kinda hangs down from the front edge of the seat). It's usually out of the way, but there's a button you push and it flips out for use. The seat in front of you is far enough forward so the foot rest doesn't hit it when you push the button. So you have that room for your legs when not using the footrest. I'll see if I can find a picture of the footrest.

      Wow! A trip to Alaska from SC! I'm going to look into that out of curiosity.[in reply to Surfie]

    • Surfie LM profile image

      Surfie LM 7 years ago

      Great lens! I've been wanting to go on a trip by train someday, and this was really helpful. My Dad has always dreamed of taking a train ride all the way to Alaska (we live in South Carolina!). I would LOVE to be able to take him one day. What an adventure that would be! I do have one question that wasn't addressed in your lens. How big are the seats? Do you have good leg-room, or are they really cramped like on an airplane?

    • Kiwisoutback profile image

      Kiwisoutback 7 years ago from Massachusetts

      I've always wanted to take an Amtrak somewhere. It must be a far different trip than going by car, and you can actually relax and not have to worry about driving, or being cramped into a small seat for 6 hours on a plane. Excellent job, Squid Angel blessed!

    • RhondaAlbom profile image

      Rhonda Albom 7 years ago from New Zealand

      Hi Paige, I came back to blessed this lens. (If you want, you can add your link at Angel Blessings from Pukeko)

    • puzzlerpaige profile image
      Author

      puzzlerpaige 7 years ago

      I agree Ramkitten,

      I wouldn't take the train every trip. It's just neat for something a little different. And it would also depend on how long the trip was. For a long trip I would really want a sleeper car.

      [in reply to Ramkitten]

    • puzzlerpaige profile image
      Author

      puzzlerpaige 7 years ago

      Hi Elaine,

      A family member picked us up from the Jacksonville train station and brought us home to St. Augustine.

      Just to recap...we were driven to Jax train station by family then boarded the train to Columbia. We were picked up in Columbia by family members. We spent a few days then headed home from Columbia back to Jax, Florida. We were met at Jax train station by family and brought back home. Hope that answers any questions.

      [in reply to elaine]

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      how did you get from jacksonville station to st. augustine?

    • Ramkitten2000 profile image

      Deb Kingsbury 7 years ago from Flagstaff, Arizona

      This is great information for anyone planning to travel by train. I've taken Amtrak trains several times, and I actually really enjoy it. I find it rather relaxing and much more comfortable than planes. It's not the mode of travel I'd choose for every trip, and sometimes it's not less expensive than flying (often not, as I've found), but it can be a fun alternative now and then. You did a great job on this lens!

    • OhMe profile image

      Nancy Tate Hellams 8 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      Popping back in to give you a well deserved blessing on this great lens.

    • Mickie Gee profile image

      Mickie Goad 8 years ago

      What a wonderful article. I have wondered about train travel in the new century. I used to go visit my grandmother when I was a teen in the 1960s and traveled on the train.

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      Susan 8 years ago from Texas

      Fabulous job on this lens! Thanks for submitting it to the Carnival of Squid so I could discover it. This is what great lensmaking is all about, right here!

    • puzzlerpaige profile image
      Author

      puzzlerpaige 8 years ago

      Hi Cindy,

      Out of curiosity I had to go over and look at the Amtrak route map to see your route. I'd

      love to get a sleeper car next time. I actually did have a sleeper car for the trip I took about 25 years ago. I remember sleeping soundly! I guess the "white noise" of the train was what did it.

      [in reply to cindy]

    • puzzlerpaige profile image
      Author

      puzzlerpaige 8 years ago

      Thanks for stopping by Michael (all the way from Chile),

      You traveled a long way in coach class! Sounds like you had a nice group of people coming and going around you. Since our trip was short and at night when folks were asleep, we didn't really meet anyone. I'd love to take a long trip at some point and have a sleeper car. [in reply to MIchael Scholz]

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      Loved your lens. We traveled Amtack from S. california to Seattle and loved it. We had a sleeper car. Great trip, great food and wonderful service. I would do it again. We loved it.

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      anonymous 8 years ago

      I traveled from Salt Lake City to Chicago, in the "California Zephyr"; and then from Chicago to McComb (near New Orleans) in the "City of New Orleans" (and then the round trip)

      It was 10 years ago, in Coach class... It took me 36 hours from SLC to CHI, and then 18 more hours from CHI to MCO; it was a really enjoyable trip; I met a lot of people, and I really knew the USA landscapes, that you can't get from an airplane.... (Im from Chile, South America)

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      Andy 8 years ago from London, England

      Great lens. I have travelled by train a lot, all over Europe, China and Canada. It is a wonderful way to travel, but so far, in the USA I have not travelled by train. Perhaps because it is so easy to drive compared with other parts of the world, but I shall certainly give Amtrak a try in the future, next time I am in America.

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      Kate Loving Shenk 8 years ago from Lancaster PA

      Yes I plan to travel from Lancaster PA to Charlotte SC in 4/10!!

      By Amtrak!!

      Just the info I need-- will remember to use my AAA card, as well!

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      anonymous 8 years ago

      Oh yes! We love the train! Going up to Duke Medical Center in NC (from Jacksonville, YAY!) is our route of choice. Your tips are awesome (and oh, yes, definitely need the blankie and pillow) and your descriptions are SO accurate! We got to the Jax station 2 hours early - yes, I know, wayyyyy too early. But it adds to the ambience of the journey. :-)

      Heading back on the tracks in October ... another round of med care at Duke for my girl ... and another stay at Ronald McDonald House. After reading your article, I'm even MORE ready to go! And I was pretty ready before. ;-)

    • seashell2 profile image

      seashell2 8 years ago

      Never done a real trip by train! Just an hour ride once! Would be kind of fun! Great lens!

    • richDik profile image

      richDik 8 years ago

      Great lens.. This reminds me of my train trip from Christchurch, crossing the Canterbury Plains westward to the snow covered Southern Alps, which ascends to the alpine township of Arthurs Pass. This is beautiful countryside scenary in New Zealand & I found it to be both very relaxing & enjoyable.

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      anonymous 8 years ago

      I've never traveled by train. Sounds like you learned a lot on your train trip. Great lens!

    • aka-rms profile image

      Robin S 8 years ago from USA

      Like you , it's been quite a long while for me. Nice work on this!

    • Laniann profile image

      Laniann 8 years ago

      Nice lens and story about your adventure. Trains can be a lot of fun. 5*s

    • strayspay profile image

      strayspay 8 years ago

      Nice lens! A lot I didn't know about train riding. Thanks for the information.

    • MsSnow4 profile image

      Carol Goss 8 years ago

      I really loved the train when i went to seattle. lots of room and it was comfy

    • mbgphoto profile image

      Mary Beth Granger 8 years ago from O'Fallon, Missouri, USA

      This is a very helpful lens. I've always wondered about train travel...now I may consider it for our next trip. 5*

    • LoKackl profile image

      LoKackl 8 years ago

      When i moved to Amherst, Mass a little over a year ago I landed with the amtrak station halfway between the Emily Dickinson homestead and me. I'm about 2 blocks south of the station. Even though I walk by it nearly every day I haven't taken a train yet. There are murmurs of closing it in favor of a more prosperous route going through Northampton. That would be sad as Dickinson's father was a primary instigator of bringing the train to Amherst. Thanks for the well-written reminder to Get On the Train!

    • JanieceTobey profile image

      JanieceTobey 8 years ago

      This is an awesome lens! Very informative AND interesting!

      We rode on trains in Europe last summer. One of them was an overnight train. We slept in these very tiny bunks, three bunks high, six to a room. It was quite an experience!

      Thanks so much for sharing your experience with us!

    • Heather426 profile image

      Heather Burns 8 years ago from Wexford, Ireland

      I enjoyed the lens. I have been hooked on train travel for a long time.

    • Sylvestermouse profile image

      Cynthia Sylvestermouse 8 years ago from United States

      Great lens with a lot of answers and considerations for "first time" train travelers. My family really enjoys riding the Amtrak trains and they are usually so much cheaper than airlines. For long trips, coach does stink, sometimes quite literally!

    • profile image

      Joan4 8 years ago

      This is so helpful. I have often wondered about traveling by AmTrak. And your tips are super. What a great resource you have created for all of us! Thank you!

    • LakeMom profile image

      LakeMom 8 years ago

      Great lens! Good info! Our GS troop will be going next week to Washington DC via train! Most of the girls and many of the adults (myself included) have never ridden on a train before. We are all very excited about the adventure! Thanks for the tips about what to take on the train - I will pass it on to our girls/adults going on the trip. (PS Our departure time is 3:58 AM! We did this so we would get into DC at a decent time and have the rest of the day to explore the city!)

    • Michey LM profile image

      Michey LM 8 years ago

      Hi lovely lens. When I arrived in New York, in 1980, I had a pair of friends in Rhode Island and I used to go by train on Thanksgiving and Christmas to visit them.

      After one year I got me own car and I stopped using the train. But I enjoy my trips with train, as you really can enjoy the places, on the car you pay attention to driving.

      Great lens

      Michey

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      bdkz 8 years ago

      Very nice lens!

    • RhondaAlbom profile image

      Rhonda Albom 8 years ago from New Zealand

      Great lens. Sorry about your seats. Lots of useful information here. We thought about taking the train for one of the legs of our last trip to the states. Next time I think we will give it a go. And now we will be prepared!

    • ElizabethJeanAl profile image

      ElizabethJeanAl 8 years ago

      I've never gone on a train trip. I've thought about it, but always chickened out. I go to Minnesota each summer. That would be a long train trip.

    • lollyj lm profile image

      Laurel Johnson 8 years ago from Washington KS

      I have always wanted to take an Amtrak trip. One of the downsides of living in the rural area is trying to get to an Amtrak station -- all 2 or 3 hours from here -- in the middle of the night. Having to board a train at three ayem sort of dims the excitement.

      Great, helpful, informative lens.

    • OhMe profile image

      Nancy Tate Hellams 8 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      This is such great Information. I had just recently checked their website to see what it would cost for us to go to Washington via Amtrak. It was a little steep and would have taken us 11 1/2 hrs so we chose not to do it. There is a station in Clemson - 4 miles from us - so if you ever stop there, give me a call! Super lens. I love how you did your photos.

    • Dianne Loomos profile image

      Dianne Loomos 8 years ago

      I took a 4 day train trip from Washington to Iowa and back by myself. It was fine but it sure would have been a lot nicer if someone had traveled with me. Oh, the part about spending the night in the Sacramento train station was NOT fun.

    • missbat profile image

      missbat 8 years ago

      Travel by train is something you should experience at least once in a lifetime. A great lens!