Planning an AMTRAK trip

I would have to say there was a lot of planning for our western US AMTRAK trip.  First was deciding where to stop.  I think I chose some of the more obvious places.  Our stops include Glacier National Park, Carson WA…The Columbia Gorge, Reno/Lake Tahoe, and Grand Lake/Teton National park CO.  The second thing was figuring out AMTRAK.  With traveling over night and some of the other peculiar AMTRAK features this required a time line.  When we found we couldn’t get a car in Carson we had to make a change to our tickets which requiredA s to return to the train station in Savannah. We changed or stop to Portland which was about an hour and a half drive back to Carson.

We started by picking a rail pass.  You choose a pass by the number of stops you want to make on your trip. This is a pass to board the train with a coach seat a specified number of times in a given time period.  So our first issue was we were right on the boarder of two time choices.  So we had to figure out if we wanted to cut the trip a few days or purchase the more expensive 30 day ticket.  Then we had to decide if we were going to spend 5 nights sleeping in a coach seat.  This is where the trip started to get a little more expensive.  A roomette, two bunk beds and two seats in a private compartment, ran from a couple hundred per night to several hundred.  So we are sleeping coach for the first night as it was way more expensive then the other nights for some reason.  If you did the trip in 14 days and stayed in coach you could do the trip for a couple hundred dollars.

In an effort to avoid staying in Chicago our flight from Savannah is at 6 am. then we have 29 hrs on the train to East Glacier that same day.  We have a similar schedule on the way back.

One of our biggest learnings on this trip is that you can not rely on the train being on time. We cut it to close on our return to Chicago. Fortunately we were able to get off the train in a Chicago suburb and get an Uber to the airport. This saved the time getting into town and the time it would have taken to get to the airport from downtown. In another example we were several hours late getting into Portland and we just made it in time to pickup our car.


The train is a more relaxing and scenic way to see the country than flying, and it can be a lot cheaper too. If you’re thinking about planning an Train trip, here are a few things to keep in mind:

  1. Decide on your destination. Amtrak travels to over 500 destinations across the country, so you’ll have plenty of options to choose from. Do you want to see the mountains, the ocean, or the big city? Once you know where you want to go, you can start planning your route.
  2. Choose your train. Amtrak offers a variety of different trains, from the budget-friendly coach class to the more luxurious sleeper cars. If you’re on a tight budget, coach class is a great option. But if you want to experience the full Amtrak experience, consider booking a sleeper car.
  3. Book your tickets.¬†You can book your tickets online, by phone, or at a train station. If you’re booking your tickets in advance, you’ll likely get a better deal.
  4. Plan your activities. Once you know where you’re going and how you’re getting there, it’s time to start planning your activities. There are plenty of things to see and do in every Amtrak destination. Do some research and find the things that interest you the most.
  5. Pack your bags. Amtrak has a baggage policy that you’ll need to follow. You can bring two carry-on bags and two checked bags per person. You can also bring a bike or a pet on board, but there are some restrictions.

Here are some additional tips for planning a trip:

  • If you’re traveling during peak season, book your tickets early.
  • If you’re traveling with a group, consider booking a private car.
  • Amtrak offers discounts for seniors, students, and military members.
  • If you’re traveling with a disability, Amtrak can provide accommodations.

Planning an Amtrak trip can be a lot of fun. With a little planning, you can have a relaxing and enjoyable journey.

Here are some additional resources that you may find helpful:

Pics from our Amtrak trip

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