Amtrak Checklist for First Time Riders

Traveling through Amtrak, America’s true pride and joy railway system, is a great way to travel across the United States to experience a variety of its landscape.

Comparing with other transport options, railway is obviously slower than air travel. But with longer security checks, more crowded seats and fellow passengers who get to your nerves sometimes, train ride, if given enough time, is a worthwhile experience, making the journey as exciting as the destination.

amtrak-sandiego

Amtrak terminal building in San Diego, CA.

Before taking Amtrak to your destination, here are some tips to help make your travel as comfortable as possible, while granting you a steady dose of peace of mind.

Prepare your ticket and identification papers.
Tickets — printed or mobile — are most important documents to prepare. While ID card or passport is also useful in verification, tickets must be secured before boarding the train. Prepare them for inspection right after securing your seats.

amtrak-ticket

Number of carry-on baggage.
Each passenger is entitled to bring two pieces of carry-on luggage. Make sure checked baggage service is available on your train. Order a new bag for your trip.

Tag your bags.
The train has compartments for bags large enough to fit into the overhead compartment or with you. You’re allowed to take in two hand-carry bags 25 lbs. and 14 x 11 x 7 inches each. Two checked baggage that do not exceed 50lbs and 75 linear inches (length + width + height).

But they may be further away from your seats so tagging them with proper identification such as your name and email address or phone helps not only to distinguish it from other bags with similar features but in case when bag gets misplaced and left behind. The latter is especially true with unattended luggage becoming subject to close scrutiny as part of tightened security procedure.

If you have really heavy bags, it’s wise to check them in. Nevermind the extra minutes devoted to retrieving them upon arrival, but for safety and comfort, check in luggage offers such purpose.

amtrak-terminal

Bring some snacks.
Passengers in Business Class have snacks and beverage provided by train servers but honestly there’s not much variety. Those in the coach don’t expect freebies but food is sold at the cafe car. However, there isn’t much choice for you so bringing your own snack and beverage is the best option.

Bring power chargers.
As you utilize your gadgets while on travel, charging them is not a problem as long as you have chargers handy since electrical supply and socket is available. However, if you need to charge multiple devices at once, then you might want to bring multiple charging sockets.

Bring sweaters.
Or at least wear something warm in case temperature inside the carriages drop too much for your comfort.

Plan what to do during journey.
Each passenger may have his or her own preferred thing to do. Take a nap, watch movie, grab a book, eat at the cafe or chat with your seatmate. But taking cue from veteran travelers, most common items passengers bring with them are the following.

1. iPad, iPhone or laptop (with charger)
2. Kindle or pocketbook
3. Comfortable pillow
4. Deck of cards
5. Camera
6. Yarn and needles

Besides wi-fi connection on some routes (see below), seats are also provided with reading lights and electrical outlets for passenger convenience.

Check if your route has Wi-fi available
Certain Amtrak routes have Wi-fi facilities available:

  • Acela Express
  • Adirondack
  • Amtrak Cascades
  • Auto Train
  • Capitol Corridor
  • Cardinal
  • Carolinian / Piedmont
  • Crescent
  • Downeaster
  • Empire Service
  • Ethan Allen Express
  • Hiawatha
  • Hossier State
  • Illinois Service
  • Keystone
  • Lake Shore Limited
  • Maple Leaf
  • Michigan Services
  • Missouri River Runner
  • Northeast Regional
  • Pacific Surfliner
  • Pennsylvanian
  • San Joanquins
  • Silver Service / Palmetto
  • Vermonter

 

With Wi-fi services, not only you save mobile data consumption, you can also expand options with your gadgets — watch movies, listen to streaming music and so on.

Have a wonderful trip!

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