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12 tips for traveling by train in the USA

The American national company Amtrak, an excellent way to visit the United States while maintaining a good budget, has recently published a list of tips to better enjoy the journey by train (especially if long-haul).

Amtrak trains go from unique landscapes, countries that seem to come from Hollywood movies, and small quiet towns, which will give you the feeling of really living a bit of the "American dream".

A good travel plan

If your intention is that of a long-range train holiday, then a good plan and a search among the various offers proposed by the Amtrak Railpass will be almost obligatory: from $500 for eight routes to be consumed in 15 days, to a maximum of $899 for 45 days of travel divisible into 18 stages. If you don't want to plan to detail, and therefore be tied to schedules and departures, you can always buy tickets for individual routes.

Reservations are not accepted

You will not be able to choose the sit in advance, but will be assigned to you by the Amtrak staff upon departure. On the trains the seats are in pairs, and all facing the head of the train.

A good sleep

If you travel at night you can take advantage of several services: you can book a berth, a roomette or even a room. The roomettes are generally double cabins, with bathrooms, while the rooms are much wider, have private bathrooms and showers. If instead, you opt to spend the night on your sit, no problem: the space between the rows of seats is wide enough to allow you to recline the seat and stretch your legs without disturbing the tourist in front of you.

Have a plan B

In the event of delays: Amtrak trains are tailored for long journeys, therefore, delays are almost inevitable. Download the Amtrak App, which keeps you up to date on train schedules and any delays, and above all, if you need to change trains, avoid too close connections.

Book a table for dinner

A lunch or dinner in the dining car of an Amtrak train is an experience not to be missed. The restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and the staff takes care of taking reservations in advance. The menu is simple, but sharing lunch with other tourists and passengers is truly enriching. You never know who will be your next table mate.

The check-in

The stations vary from large buildings with different bars, shops, and cafeterias, to small stations with a bench and a bar. If you want to get your luggage to your destination, you can take advantage of the check-in service which will prevent you from having to move your luggage from one train to another, but if you prefer, you can use the overhead compartment.

The bar

Most of the trains have, next to the restaurant, a Cafè car, generally of free access and free. You can sit on comfortable seats and read a newspaper, play chess or cards while enjoying a coffee, an aperitif, a cocktail or a snack. In the Cafè car, there are usually also tourist guides regarding the route in question, or the Rangers of the National Parks in uniform (if you cross one of them in your route), who will be happy to give you details on the places you will cross.

The Southwest Limited's dome car attracts passengers interested in looking at the early morning Arizona landscape, June 1974

The Dome Car

The most fascinating routes will certainly have a wagon called "Dome Car": a fully windowed wagon with seats often facing outwards, to fully appreciate the beauty of the places you cross. The most beautiful of all is undoubtedly that of the Colorado Rockies.

In cooler

The temperatures in the Amtrak trains are always regulated according to the external ones, so if your trip involves a stretch of Arizona desert... bring a sweater, you won't regret it!

The famous "rest stops"

Sometimes you see them in classic films: they are those stops that the train makes to leave passengers time to get off, smoke a cigarette, stretch their legs or drink coffee. There are many, but make sure you know which ones are on your journey. Not all the stops are "rest stops".

The waiting rooms

If you are waiting for a connection between one train and another, take advantage of the waiting rooms: you will find newspapers, free wifi, snacks, and drinks to entertain you while you wait.

Prepare for the finish

Not all stations are right in the city center, but if they are not, you will certainly find a metro station or a bus station, which will quickly take you to the city. Find out about your destination.