One of the first things you’ll notice is that your fellow passengers are rarely Americans. For the duration of your journey you’ll socialize with people from all over the world and many different walks of life. Young backpacking students chat readily with elderly retired couples, all exchanging travel stories about what they’ve seen and where they’re going next. Between this informal chat, the never ending but constantly changing backdrop outside the window, and the restaurant car, the hours pass far more quickly than you would think.
If you are taking a journey that’s over 8 hours, such as from LA to Seattle which takes two days and affords some of the beautiful coastal views available on the west coast of the USA, then you should consider booking a cabin for the time you’re onboard. This gives you the option of sitting in the coach or the observation area with other passengers, but allows you some privacy at the same time. Space within the cabin is compact at best, but there’s room for the essentials. Amtrak cabins come in various berth sizes so whether you’re traveling with family or on your own, you’ll be able to find one the right size. If you do require a cabin however, make sure you make your reservation in advance to ensure that you are able to get the type you prefer. With space inside the cabin at a premium divide your luggage up so that you only take to the cabin the things you’ll need on the journey and let the rest go in the baggage area.
The restaurant car is a great way to spend an hour or two over a leisurely breakfast, lunch or dinner. The menu is similar to what you’d find in a small restaurant, usually offering hot basic food at a fair price considering you’re more or less a captive dinner guest! However, if you have booked a cabin you may find that meals onboard your Amtrak train are included in your ticket price, as is a morning cup of tea or coffee and a newspaper delivered to your room!
Don’t be put off by the amount of hours an Amtrak train journey takes. Instead, read about the things you’ll see on the route and prepare yourself not just for a train ride, but a journey of memories.