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Joined: 9/18/2012
Msg: 1
US Cross country by rail soloPage 1 of 1    
I was thinking about doing a US cross county rail experience via Amtrak alone since I have nobody to travel with. I was wonder has anybody done this before. I really never been on a train before other then a short 30 or 40 minute ride when I was little. What does everyone think? Anybody on here have any experience doing this? If so what do you recommend? Is it comfortable? Is it worth while? Any feedback would be appreciated.
Joined: 12/16/2015
Msg: 2
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US Cross country by rail solo
Posted: 1/22/2016 8:29:58 AM
Amtrak travel is wonderful. Their seats are more comfortable than airline seats AND you can walk to the dining cars.
While I have never gone could mix in rental car travel to see sights along the way.
Sounds like it will be quite an adventure! How much time will you allot for the journey? Flying home or train both ways?
Joined: 9/18/2012
Msg: 3
US Cross country by rail solo
Posted: 1/23/2016 5:36:53 AM
I haven't thought that far ahead as of yet. Just trying to get a feel of what to expect.
Joined: 3/29/2014
Msg: 4
US Cross country by rail solo
Posted: 1/31/2016 10:40:05 AM
I've taken Amtrak from Seattle, across the northern states, to Chicago. This was a multi-night trip so I had a sleeper car. That includes a private room with a fold-down bed, chairs, a teeny-tiny bathroom, meals in the dining car, and porter service. I LOVED it. Would definitely take a multi-night trip again.

I've also taken several shorter train trips by Amtrak and recommend these also.

If the cost of a sleeper car is an issue, or you just want to get off the train and see some of the sights, then get a business class/semi-private car and shorter hop tickets so you get off each day or two, sleep in a hotel with a real bed and shower, and then continue like that.

One thing I really like about trains over planes (aside from the obvious that you're at ground level seeing the scenery) is that you can have privacy in your own car, or get out and mingle in the dining car or observation car. And even get fresh air at the caboose. Many trains also have an interpreter/guide (can't remember the name) that does presentations about the history/geography/significance of the areas you travel through. I think this is a partnership with the National Park Service.

Be prepared, however, for the typical travel challenges - late trains, cancelled trains due to all sorts of issues on the line (floods, blizzards, mud slides, etc). But, that will happen with any form of travel.
Joined: 1/11/2016
Msg: 5
US Cross country by rail solo
Posted: 2/2/2016 12:35:59 PM
I traveled from New York City to Florida via Amtrak, and had a great time. I prefer to travel by train than airplanes.
Joined: 11/7/2012
Msg: 6
US Cross country by rail solo
Posted: 2/3/2016 7:19:49 AM

I'm gonna look into that as I'm going to Florida at the end of this month (by plane), I plan to make many more trips to Florida and everywhere else.
Joined: 11/29/2015
Msg: 7
US Cross country by rail solo
Posted: 2/23/2016 11:04:15 AM
I drive alone from coast to coast in my lil' Hyundai all the time. Come summer Im heading back to the east coast. The freedom of stopping where and when I want is quite liberating. I love a good road trip.

My 26 year old daughter and I have traveled on Amtrak quite often. We only fly now when we have to, because it has become such a hassle. Never mind how many times we both have been bumped off flights due to over booking. I enjoy the train because its a stress free way to travel. We can move around, relax, bring our own food, and use our electronics at will. Most major cities with Amtrak stations also have local connecting train service, like when Im in NY. I can get on the LIRR right there in Penn Station, or ride the subway to visit relatives.
Joined: 12/16/2015
Msg: 8
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US Cross country by rail solo
Posted: 2/23/2016 11:29:42 AM
Plus the air on Amtrak isn't disgusting, recycled, and stale...and that gets you sick. Another advantage!
CynthiaSM might be able to tell us if they still have those "skylight cars" with extra glass for scenic views.
Joined: 2/6/2016
Msg: 9
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US Cross country by rail solo
Posted: 2/27/2016 8:52:45 AM

.............."skylight cars" with extra glass for scenic views.

On numerous occasions, I took Amtrak round trip, from South Bend, Indiana to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
This train, is known as "The Capitol, Limited", (Chicago to Washington DC)
Although this route always took you thru Indiana/Ohio/Pennsylvania, at night between 9:30 PM -5 AM going, and midnight - 8 AM returning, in addition to Coach cars/Dining cars/Sleepers, they also used:

Lounges[edit] (Copied from Wikipedia)
Silver double height railway car with double row of windows.
Lounges could seat 60 on the upper level, with additional seating on the lower level.[3] Nicknames for these cars included "Top of the Cap" and "Sky Lounges". A glass top across two-thirds of the car distinguished it from the rest of the Hi-Levels. The lower level featured the "Kachina Coffee Shop" and a lounge area with seating for 26.

I LOVE to travel by train. You can sit -relax -get up and walk-eat in the dining car- grab a snack in the snack bar- purchase a beer (wine?) -enjoy the view or play cards from the Lounge- and when all else fails, (just kidding) return to your seat, grab a pillow, a light blanket, and read yourself to sleep. You don't have to have a room in the sleeper car. The train personnel dim the lights around 10:30 -11:00 PM or so. And they politely enforce "Quiet time".

LOL I couldn't drive overnight AND sleep at the same time!
Joined: 3/7/2014
Msg: 10
US Cross country by rail solo
Posted: 3/2/2016 4:16:46 PM

What does everyone think?

Great idea.

You see so much by train that you can't see by other modes of transport.
Joined: 7/31/2011
Msg: 11
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US Cross country by rail solo
Posted: 3/2/2016 4:49:28 PM
Canada has a wonderful train system. You can pick up a train in Montreal and then zip over to Vancouver. With the 40% exchange would be much cheaper than travelling in the US.

Here's a link to Canadian train trips
Joined: 3/6/2016
Msg: 12
US Cross country by rail solo
Posted: 3/16/2016 12:59:35 PM
It's get if you have the time and money, they use to have a pass you could buy for a month of travel for a reasonable price.
Joined: 9/15/2015
Msg: 13
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US Cross country by rail solo
Posted: 3/28/2016 8:03:31 AM
"It's get if you have the time and money, they use to have a pass you could buy for a month of travel for a reasonable price."

I was wondering what the one month means. You have 12 segments and 330 days to use the pass. Is the one month a total of train time only?

Like if you take 2 days to get from Chicago to Seattle, then spend 30 days in Seattle, then a train to SanFran that is a 2 day ride, and spend a month in SanFran area, does that mean you have 30-4 = 26 days left? And 12-2=10 segments left?

Does anyone know?
Joined: 12/5/2015
Msg: 14
US Cross country by rail solo
Posted: 4/21/2016 6:55:06 AM
"Zip" by train from Montreal to Vancouver? Mm, maybe in 4, full 24 hour days..about 96 hours..average speed, 40 km/h..
Train's not bad in the Windsor to Montreal corridor, painfully slow in most other runs..even in the main lines ,, lame compared to most of Europe, Japan, etc.
Joined: 6/18/2011
Msg: 15
US Cross country by rail solo
Posted: 6/5/2016 10:24:10 AM
I too have taken the Capitol Limited - the full route from Chicago to DC, and back. Like Ladyinred said, it goes through those areas at bad times to see anything, but the trip thru PA after sunrise is pretty nice. Then a little later you have Harpers Ferry which sadly has nearly disappeared as the population has dropped under 300.

I've also used the skylight car in the middle, but when I used it there was no access to the lower level. Since I could not fly due to the people with me, I decided to take the train and it sure beats driving that far and finding a hotel while risking falling asleep at the wheel. the train is pretty much a rolling motel.
Joined: 7/28/2011
Msg: 16
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US Cross country by rail solo
Posted: 3/1/2018 8:54:28 PM
I took Amtrak from Chicago to Los Angeles, California about 7 years ago. It was great. They will pair you up with someone similar to your age of possible being seats are side by side but once you get into Iowa lots of people get off and you have room to spread out because there will be lots of empty seats you can claim. Like others have mentioned you have the freedom to walk the train into the lounge or observation cars, much more space and freedom than on a plane. Some people get to know each other with friendly conversation. Took about 2 days for me to get to LA. Renting a sleeper roomette is kinda pricey, but offers much privacy. It was nice, i'd do it again.
Joined: 6/11/2013
Msg: 17
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US Cross country by rail solo
Posted: 4/5/2018 11:45:54 PM
I'd need a room. How much could it cost a night?
Joined: 7/23/2017
Msg: 18
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US Cross country by rail solo
Posted: 4/6/2018 6:17:31 AM
^^ Here is a representative Amtrak fare

Los Angeles to Chicago, 29 hrs train time, 75 hrs total time a roomette is ~$600 more than a reserved seat and ~$550 more than a business seat.

A room is definitely worth it for anyone who can afford it, even more than a first class plane seat is worth the upgrade for anyone who can afford it and can get one.
Joined: 6/11/2013
Msg: 19
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US Cross country by rail solo
Posted: 4/6/2018 12:40:48 PM
Thank you, Cynthia! The seats are sounding better by the minute☺ That's a heck of a lot of money for a short expanse of time. I got bumped into first class on a plane. That can spoil you for life.
Joined: 8/1/2017
Msg: 20
US Cross country by rail solo
Posted: 8/14/2018 1:07:36 PM
I traveled on Amtrak for a few days down from the Canadian border at Niagara. Then after a weeks rnr near Washington, I took back to the rails for a more circular trip back to Toronto Pearson. I slept on the trains 4 nights in total. Easier than on british trains as you have loads more seat space.
I did book a month's rail pass for a return trip to the States, but then the economy crashed back home so I cancelled the whole trip. Amtrak was good, they let me cancel the $700 ticket as it was more than 2 months away.
I'd plan another trip but the ticket conditions have been changed to less favorable terms.
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