2 Girls. 1 World. A Whole Lot to See

REVIEWS

26 Hours on a Train — Would I Do it Again?

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YES!

I’m not even going to beat around the bush. This isn’t link bait. I’m not going to change my mind by the end of the post. I loved — LOVED — traveling by train and honestly, I didn’t think I would, especially considering how I feel about cruises.

Let me start at the beginning as I know I’m getting ahead of myself.

The Husband and I embarked on our annual anniversary vacation last Wednesday night. We had a date with Amtrak at 5:12 p.m. and we were both looking forward to our first long train ride.

Note: The large suitcase was HIS idea. I had all my stuff in a backpack and shoulder bag.

Note: The large suitcase was HIS idea. I had all my stuff in a backpack and shoulder bag. I hate over packing!

The train station (at least in Baltimore) is a lot like an airport, only smaller — MUCH smaller — and with a lot less security.

Train Information Board

We arrived about 30 minutes early as we weren’t sure how bad traffic or parking would be. Neither was a problem.

After waiting a few minutes our train’s status changed from 5:12 to 5:25 and I’m pretty sure I captured The Husband’s expression as soon as he noticed it on the board.

sad face -- train late

Fortunately, the status of the train kept updating and we were able to board pretty much on time.

Boarding

When we booked a sleeper car (aka a Roomette) I had no idea it was similar to “first class” on an airplane. We made the decision to go sleeper based solely on the length of the trip — 26 hours is a looooong time.

Sleeper Car Sign

I knew the sleeper car wasn’t huge but it was more room than a seat and it gave you the option to lie down — something I figured would be invaluable on an overnight trip.

The roomette is basically a 4 x 7 space with 2 typical train seats, a toilet, sink, upper bunk and an overhead nook for luggage.

This was my view sitting down — I stuck my legs out so you can get a sense of the closeness.

Right side of the roomette

Right side of the roomette

This is where I was sitting.

Left side of roomette.

Left side of roomette.

That area to the left with my bag on it is — yup, you guessed it — the toilet.

Toilet on Amtrak

This is where I break to tell you I would probably only travel this way with people I’m really close with. Not even thinking about the bathroom situation (you could always walk to a common bathroom on another car if the thought of peeing close to your bunkmate doesn’t appeal to you) traveling in such close quarters requires a level of comfort with your travel partner. The Husband and I had no problem. I’m sure Jen and I could even handle it (well, I could, she might not) but, ummm, that’s about it. Maybe the kids? But they would be bouncing off the walls and driving me crazy.

My point is the roomette is not for casual travel partners or people who get on your nerves easily.

Train travel is for those not afraid of close quarters for sure.

Trail hallways outside of our roomette.

Train hallways outside of our roomette.

The sleeper car had a small refreshment station at the end of the hall where they provided coffee, ice, water and juice.

train refreshment center

I also walked down to see the snack car but none of its offerings were free, of course.

train snack car

However, meals in the dining care were included with the sleeper car upgrade!

Meal on Amtrak

That was a shot of my breakfast, by far the best meal on the train. Their whole wheat biscuits were to die for and the eggs were cooked exactly how I asked.

The other meals on the train were pretty good too considering the staff has a kitchen the size of a small bathroom. They even had “healthy options” and the menu included calorie counts for all dishes.  I loved that!

Amtrak Menu

The dining car staff we interacted with (on both train trips — there and back) was fabulous and friendly. You can tell they were doing their best in the strange environment and I was awed that they worked every meal for the course of the entire trip — what an exhausting job!

Once it was time for bed we converted the roomette for sleeping by lowering the top bunk.

Top bunk on amtrak

I loved it lying up there and looking out the window. We both didn’t sleep great on the train but it was sure better than trying to sit upright for the full 26 hours in a traditional train car like this!

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If I had to nail down the exact reason why I loved traveling on the train I think it was because of this…

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Not doing crossroads per se but just hanging out for an entire day with my husband. We just got a chance to chill and talk and, well, BE.

If you asked the Husband what his favorite part was it may be the fact he was allowed to bring alcohol on board.

alcohol on train

Train travel isn’t for those who simply want to get someplace fast.  But for those of us who enjoy the trip as much as the destination, it’s a fun day or two to spend with loved ones.

And for this guy it was LESS stress than a plane but… it still had its moments.

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The Husband’s face as we crossed Lake Pontchartrain.

 



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Discussion

There are 3 comments so far. Join in on the conversation.

    Jen

    April 19, 2015

    When I did the Chicago Triathlon back in 2005 (I know, a long time ago!), my husband and I traveled by way of Amtrak and got a sleeper car on the way back from Chicago. No toilet, but a bed, and I was exhausted from the race so I slept like a baby. There were nice, clean (sometimes a problem in coach) bathrooms reserved for our group of sleepers, and we also got meals included. We would travel this way a lot more often if it wasn't so pricey and prone to delays. Reply

    Thea Rudland

    April 27, 2015

    Holy Moly, that roomette is SMALL! I had no idea it would be that small. We've talked about train travel with the kids. Dave and I would definitely have to each bunk with a kid. Reply

    B Deanne

    May 6, 2015

    Thank you for sharing your trip! I love the detail and explanation of roomette. I hadn't planned on ever travelling by train again because of my past experiences - up all night, delay, delay, delay... but this makes it seem like a viable option - even though not a glamorous option :-) Reply