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Amtrak Cross Country

So, I'm heading from New York to Tucson, AZ, on Saturday, via the Crescent and the Sunset Limited. I splurged and upgraded to a stateroom so I am really looking forward to the trip. However, I've never done this before. Anything I should know about or be prepared for?

In particular, how is the food on board these trains? Should I plan to bring any of my own, or will what's available be decent? Can you get snacks at any hour?

Also, will they check my bags, or do I have them with me the whole time? I assume the stateroom is secure enough to leave things in if I go to the lounge or the dining car?

Anyway I'm looking forward to a few days of reading and writing and watching the country go by, but I'd love to hear from people who've done this before.


( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 16th, 2008 02:30 pm (UTC)
That sounds a great trip.

I'd take a few snack-type things with you like crackers with dips/spreads, granola bars and a couple of small bottles of water. The food on board - particularly the dining car - is very good but if your trains are running late the lounge car could be closed or out of stock. The dining car is only open for a couple of hours at a time and the dining supervisor will walk through the train taking reservations for lunch or dinner. It's a good opportunity to meet fellow passengers for a chat.

If all your stations (including transfer - is that New Orleans?) have checked baggage facilities I recommend checking in your bags too. By checking in your luggage they become Amtrak's responsibility if anything goes missing and you can carry aboard a backpack or holdall with a few things you'll need for freshening up and entertainment. Also take any valuables with you when you go to the bathroom or to eat.

Most of all... bon voyage!
Dec. 16th, 2008 02:32 pm (UTC)
Thank you -- I will certainly post about the experience. My fear about checking the bag is that I'll be staying overnight in New Orleans so I'll need the bag.
Dec. 16th, 2008 02:49 pm (UTC)
Amtrak are very quick at unloading the bags, and in NOLA I've picked up my bags on the platform just as I got to the end of the platform!
Dec. 16th, 2008 04:58 pm (UTC)
I assume the stateroom is secure enough to leave things in if I go to the lounge or the dining car?

Sleeping car rooms can't be locked from the outside, and while coach passengers aren't supposed to be in the sleeping cars at all, there's nothing to stop them from wandering in unless the sleeping car attendant happens to notice them. A coach passenger in the sleeping cars is probably more likely trying to "borrow" a shower than a laptop, though.
Dec. 16th, 2008 09:13 pm (UTC)
Yeah, agree. It's unlikely that somebody's going to steal your stuff, but it certainly is possible. (Me, I just don't worry about it. What can you do? I'd rather have some stuff with me in my room, like my laptop.)
Dec. 20th, 2008 05:25 pm (UTC)

1. Well, a "stateroom" it isn't. That is, it's not the grand manner and the QE2 and a dress code and James Bond and all that. It IS nice, you do get your own room and you do get a bed. And free meals.

2. Baggage: You can check it to a point along your journey if you want. Check it to New Orleans. And then re-check it. Of course, the beauty of checking it through is then you don't have to bother with it in New Orleans. Would you rather have your stuff or would you rather be able to walk around unencumbered with a heavy bag?

3. I would not worry about security. Of course it's possible for something to be stolen, but it's not likely. Someone who doesn't belong in the sleeping cars is fairly obvious. I've never had problems and never even heard of problem on a train. Maybe just don't leave your laptop right out and visible if someone were to open the door.

4. Make sure you enjoy the sightseer lounge with it's observation windows and social spirit!

5. Let go of any attachment to the train being on time. Lately (this fall) the trains on-time records have been good, but on a long trip things happen. Don't stress. Roll with it. Amtrak _will_ get you there.

6. My last train trip I really enjoyed having an iphone with google maps and used it to see where I was. Maybe that's my own private geek pleasure, but it might be yours too.
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )

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