The very first US train journey i took was from Chicago to New Orleans. 19 hours. I did consider just buying a regular ticket when i first started looking into the trip. But after checking the various seat options and prices, i decided i just had to book myself an Amtrak bedroom. Keep reading below to learn more about why this is a great way to travel in the USA!
What seat options are there on amtrak?
Probably more than you think. The cheapest seats are the regular ones. Similar to what you’d find on any train or bus. The next step up is the roomette. This is a great solo choice if you want a bit more room but don’t want to upgrade to a full room. The roomette is exactly as it sounds – a very small room. It’s made up of 2 seats that face each other and gives a good amount of privacy.
And then there are the full bedrooms. There are usually a couple of choices depending on your route. The normal bedroom and the family bedroom – both are quite similar. The family room is meant to offer a little more space but i couldn’t tell the difference.
what perks do i get with an amtrak bedroom?
Well, you’ll get space. Lots of space. And a bed (or 3 if you’re on your own). Plus the bonus of your own bathroom and a shower. I like to affectionately call it the “tower” – toilet shower. Because it’s basically like a really small wet room with the shower hanging over the toilet. But if you have a particular aversion to public bathrooms as i do, you cannot underestimate the importance of this particular feature!
Where do i eat when riding amtrak?
If you’re riding the Chicago – New Orleans route, then you’ll be leaving Chicago around 8pm in the evening. Once you’ve boarded and settled in, they’ll give a call over the intercom inviting sleeper car guests to the dining car for dinner. The dining car will usually be quite close to your room if not next door. It is possible to make reservations in advance but that won’t always be necessary. If you’re on your own, you’ll probably find yourself seated at a table with other guests. This is a great way to mingle with your fellow train passengers but stick to your room if you’re not keen on the idea!
Let’s be fair. You’re not going to find 5 star fine-dining here. But you will find a reasonable menu of reasonable quality food. If you’ve booked a room or roomette, you’ll get meals included which is a nice bonus. Otherwise, in my opinion, it’s a little pricey but you can always bring your own pre-prepared food or snacks if you don’t want to risk it.
ready for bed!
After dinner, you’ll return to your Amtrak bedroom and your lovely sleeper car attendant will have made up your bed for you.
What was previously a double/triple seat has now become a small double. If there’s more than one of you staying in the room, there’s another bed that folds out above the main one. You’ll get blankets and a couple of pillows. Like the food, you won’t find this the most comfortable bed you’ve ever slept on. But it certainly beats trying to sleep upright overnight.
can you actually sleep on the train?!
Good question! This really depends on how easy you find it to sleep generally. As a rule, i’m quite a light sleeper and i did struggle a bit. This was also partly down to general over-excitement at being on holiday and riding the train! The noise is fairly consistent so you do become used to it. Likewise with the rocking. I stayed upstairs so felt it even more. It’s not dissimilar to being on a boat. There will be fairly regular stops on most routes. On this particular route, after i finally fell asleep somewhere in Mississippi, i woke again when the train arrived in Memphis, Tennessee. This is a major stop so lots of people getting on and off – and a call for breakfast not long after.
if your journey is 6 hours+, go for the amtrak bedroom
Or possibly even less. If you can afford to, definitely opt for the Amtrak bedroom. If your journey is only a couple of hours, a regular seat will be absolutely fine – and cheap. Despite the fact that i didn’t sleep too well, riding the train in the USA is one of the best experiences i’ve had while travelling solo!