Tips and advice

What You Need to Know When Traveling By Rail

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Though most people consider air travel to be the best way to get to a destination, traveling by rail can be a fun and exciting way to get there, too. If you can spare a bit more time to get to your destination and would like to see more of America, take a train! But rail travel is different from flying, so here are some tips to make sure you have a safe and enjoyable experience.

What to Wear

No matter how long you’re going to be on the train for, you’re going to want to wear comfortable clothing. Try to avoid tight clothes or anything too formal. Relaxed clothing will make a world of difference after a few hours of a train ride!

What to Bring

Though it can be fun to dine with other passengers on the train, doing so can be expensive and unhealthy, as many trains serve only fast food. You might want to consider packing a small cooler with sandwiches, drinks and snacks, at least for the beginning of the trip. You should also bring a light blanket and a portable pillow in case you decide to rest during the trip. To pass the time, remember to bring a book, a magazine, an iPod and/or a laptop. Your train will most likely have outlets to charge gadgets, and many have free Wi-Fi as well. Most overnight trains also have movies and other on-board entertainment. Be sure to bring at least $20 in cash with you, as some trains do not take credit cards. This cash will come in handy if you decide to purchase snacks, beverages, etc.


Try to limit your luggage to just one or two bags, if possible. Some, but not all railways have checked baggage service, and not all stations are equipped to handle baggage. Bringing only luggage you can carry will ensure that you can bring it with you on each train without worry. Most trains will have overhead luggage racks, and sleeping cars may have luggage shelves as well.

Overnight Travel

Sleeper cars are available for trips that will last overnight (or over a few nights). Most railways will offer pillows, towels, washcloths, soap and bedding. Some will even have coffee, tea, and juice available, along with meals and a morning newspaper waiting for you!

Train Travel With Kids

If you’re traveling by rail with children, try to take the most direct route available to cut down on layover time and avoid changing trains. Also, keep in mind that children under the age of two are typically free of charge, as long as they’re riding on a parent’s lap. Make sure you bring snacks, books and toys for them to keep them from getting bored, cranky and antsy. If you’re going to be traveling for more than six hours, you might want to consider booking a sleeper car. Kids love to sleep in the train’s bunk beds, and having them asleep for most of the ride will make the trip much less stressful for you!

Popular Routes

One of the most popular train services is Amtrak. Amtrak offers many different routes for railway travel and trips can vary from under an hour to several days. Here are some examples of great Amtrak routes to check out: The Auto Train runs from Washington, D.C. to Orlando. While you travel in an Amtrak passenger car, your vehicle is carried in a car at the back of the train. Once you get to Orlando, you can jump in your car and go! The Crescent travels from New York City to New Orleans every day, while the Ethan Allen Express runs from NYC to Vermont. Both the Ethan Allen and the Adirondack, which travels between NYC and Montreal, provide beautiful views of the New England foliage in the fall. The Coast Starlight route runs between Los Angeles and Seattle, offering fantastic sightseeing along the way. The Coast Starlight is one of the only trains that features floor-to-ceiling windows in its lounge. There are many different railways offering service between major cities. If you're looking for more resources to make your train ride affordable, exciting, and educated you can check out USA by Rail. Regardless of where you choose to go, the ride itself is sure to be a memorable part of your journey! Don't forget to stop by one of the great North American cities that have Go Select passes available! More fantastic attractions are being added every day.

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