Amtrak across America - has anyone done it ?

Murphy_The_Cat
Murphy_The_Cat Posts: 20,967 Forumite
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For Jan 2024, I've booked an Amtrak trip from New York to Chicago on the "Cardinal" and then Chicago to San Francisco (last leg from Emeryville to San Fran in a coach) on the "Californian Zephyr", in a "roomette", just for myself.
Total travel time will be circa 85 hours if the train is on time (which I have very low expectations of !) & yes, I'm aware of no wifi.

Has anyone done anything similar and if so, do you have any pearls of wisdom to share ?
 
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  • Westin
    Westin Posts: 5,933 Forumite
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    I haven’t but this website seems good for all things Rail Travel -
    https://www.seat61.com/UnitedStates.htm
  • Murphy_The_Cat
    Murphy_The_Cat Posts: 20,967 Forumite
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    Westin said:
    I haven’t but this website seems good for all things Rail Travel -
    https://www.seat61.com/UnitedStates.htm

    You're right, that site is absolutely invaluable for train travel planning.

    One thing that I have done is arrange for my flight home being in the afternoon of the next day - delays of 12 hours aren't uncommon !
  • StuieUK34
    StuieUK34 Posts: 2,098 Forumite
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    i want to do the starlight route on the west coast before i get too old!
    look for Trek trendy (uk guy) on youtube, he does some wicked short video's on the Amtrack routes!
  • Murphy_The_Cat
    Murphy_The_Cat Posts: 20,967 Forumite
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    edited 12 March 2023 at 8:05PM
    StuieUK34 said:
    i want to do the starlight route on the west coast before i get too old!
    look for Trek trendy (uk guy) on youtube, he does some wicked short video's on the Amtrack routes!

    Cheers Stuie
    Litterally the first trip on that chaps youtube is the Zephyr, which is the train I'm going on.

    I've travelled between San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara on the Pacific Surfliner (Coast Starlight uses the same tracks) and the scenery is lovely !
  • Alan_Bowen
    Alan_Bowen Posts: 4,848 Forumite
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    Jeb Brooks, greeneergrass.com has just filed a new video on Youtube of his January journey on the Empire Builder from Seattle to Chicago. In his case, they arrived 5 hours late having left 2 and a half hours late due it appears to having to remove the Sightseeer car, so they had to spend most of their time in their room. It does show virtually every meal option which is the same for all services west of Chicago, you get freshly cooked food going west but on services from the east coast to Chicago, it is all microwaved meals and not of a similar standard.

    I do enjoy train travel but not having private facilities and having to stagger downstairs in the middle of the night to use the 'restroom' would put me off. I think the most important issue is to have realistic expectations, the scenery is glorious, and the crew is usually great but the trains are 40 years old. Good luck!
  • Murphy_The_Cat
    Murphy_The_Cat Posts: 20,967 Forumite
    Name Dropper First Post First Anniversary
    Jeb Brooks, greeneergrass.com has just filed a new video on Youtube of his January journey on the Empire Builder from Seattle to Chicago. In his case, they arrived 5 hours late having left 2 and a half hours late due it appears to having to remove the Sightseeer car, so they had to spend most of their time in their room. It does show virtually every meal option which is the same for all services west of Chicago, you get freshly cooked food going west but on services from the east coast to Chicago, it is all microwaved meals and not of a similar standard.

    I do enjoy train travel but not having private facilities and having to stagger downstairs in the middle of the night to use the 'restroom' would put me off. I think the most important issue is to have realistic expectations, the scenery is glorious, and the crew is usually great but the trains are 40 years old. Good luck!

    Cheers Alan
    I looked at booking a "bedroom" rather than a "roomette", but costwise it was double, plus the size/setup/shape of the bathroom didn't look ideal for me (I'm a big unit !).  The shower rooms "downstairs" are quite spacious and should be more Murphysized friendly :):smile:   If I was travelling with Mrs Cat, I'd definitely have booked the bedroom, for the extra space.

    I've been on 3 x sleeper car trips in the last 12 months, two in the UK and one across Europe and I'm looking forward to seeing how they compare.  For this trip, the journey will be the holiday  ;)
  • no.1swimmum
    no.1swimmum Posts: 1,508 Forumite
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    we've not travelled yet but are booked on the California Zephyr on the 7th April for our first even Amtrak trip, we have booked a family bedroom as the disabled room was unavailable and neither  of us could climb up to the top bunk. We are really looking forward to it and keeping our fingers crossed that its not cancelled or delayed to long, but have contingency plans in case this happens.  I will let you know what its like my only worry is that we'll have no wifi on the train.
    Fibro-Warrior
  • davelewis
    davelewis Posts: 471 Forumite
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    I've done this!! NYC to Chicago and then Chicago to LA.

    We booked a Roomette but on the first trip the onboard assistant moved us up to a full Room (obviously looking for a tip - we certainly obliged him!)

    Really enjoyed both train journeys. Do it!!
  • Murphy_The_Cat
    Murphy_The_Cat Posts: 20,967 Forumite
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    we've not travelled yet but are booked on the California Zephyr on the 7th April for our first even Amtrak trip, we have booked a family bedroom as the disabled room was unavailable and neither  of us could climb up to the top bunk. We are really looking forward to it and keeping our fingers crossed that its not cancelled or delayed to long, but have contingency plans in case this happens.  I will let you know what its like my only worry is that we'll have no wifi on the train.
    I'll kep my fingers crossed for you as well - in the last 7-10 days, the CZ hasn't done to well. As for the lack of wifi, that's something that I'm looking forwards to !

  • Murphy_The_Cat
    Murphy_The_Cat Posts: 20,967 Forumite
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    davelewis said:
    I've done this!! NYC to Chicago and then Chicago to LA.

    We booked a Roomette but on the first trip the onboard assistant moved us up to a full Room (obviously looking for a tip - we certainly obliged him!)

    Really enjoyed both train journeys. Do it!!

    Nice one Dave.  If I get "offered" an upgrade, I won't refuse it.  If my trip on the California Zephyr goes well, the Southwest Chief or Empire Builder could be next. What time of year did you go ?  I realise that travelling in Jan, the daylight hours will be short, but I can only take my holidays in Winter and half a loaf is better than no bread at all.
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