I love to travel on the train. You never know what is going happen. Okay, you so know what is generally going to happen, but that is besides the point. A majority of my trips are taken at night so I never really know what is going on outside the train. I have been taking the train since freshman year of college where somehow it was the only alternative to coming home from Spring Break. This is Senior year, and for some reason, I am going to be taking the train a lot. I just want give a couple of tips on how to make the train experience a little more bearable from the viewpoint of a college student. And also, I have only had experience on the Crescent train, so things might be different on other trains.
1. Have your ticket in advance.
My advice is to get your ticket early. There is less stress involved if you book early for your train. The price will also be cheaper. This will guarantee your spot on the train. The question then becomes: What happens if I lose my ticket? So, Amtrak is making it easier to forget or lose your ticket without worry. There are QR codes, on the e-ticket at least, that not only tell the who the passenger is but the conductor can look up the name of the passenger on the scanner.
2. Pack light.
In the requirements for Amtrak at this time, there is a limit of two carry-on sized bags or one big bag. This does not include laptops and other essentials. You would have to look on the website for specific details. I personally would recommend the two small bags only if you have to. There is not a lot of room for random luggage on the train. You have the overhead racks and at your feet. This is not a lot of room for your entire closet unless it happens to be very small.
3. Wear Clothes that are warm and comfortable.
This does not mean to wear one really warm jumpsuit. There are heaters on the train. This does mean to wear layers. Here is an example of what I might personally wear on the train: Traveling Clothes.
Tight clothes are not advised if you are travelling long distances. Though leggings are tight, they are not too tight. I sometimes try to use my clothes as ways to start conversation. I like to wear a shirt that says, “Hobbits are Tolkien minorities”. So far, the shirt has not worked in starting conversation. That does not mean that I am done trying. Clothes are a thing of personal expression. Express yourself on the train.
4. Bring Activities.
The world we live in is wired. A major thing that is wired is the current access to the Internet. As of this time, a limited number of trains actually have WiFi. This is as of the current date. If you are reading this years in the future, consult the website. Since the Crescent does not have Internet, I find a variety of things to do like download podcasts, bring books, look at Arrive that is made for Amtrak itself. My personal podcast favorites are from How Stuff Works and TED. If you do not like any of those options, you can always sleep. The conductors will make sure you do not miss your stop.
5. Be Positive.
This sounds easy. Yet, you are travelling with humans. There is a good chance that you will not know the person sitting next to you. Do not let that ruin your experience. These are not the only trains on the track. This means stopping and waiting for track to be available. There are the little things that you can do that can help. I have mentioned at least four.
So, here is the link to Amtrak. You can see current policies with luggage and the WiFi situation. I hope you have the chance to go on Amtrak. It is a great experience.