When you’re ready to set out on a train adventure in the US, you can’t go far wrong with heading to Chicago. Serving as a hub for a number of Amtrak routes east to west and north to south (as well as other services), Union Station is also one of the more impressive train stations you’ll come across.
Tickets should be booked online in advance, though you will often still find free seats if you like to leave things a bit last minute. You may be surprised to find out how competitive the pricing is for longer train rides, even when you upgrade for more space. Obviously, it takes much longer than flying, but if you factor in travel to the airport as well as check-in wait and then the length of flight, it might not always be too time intensive by comparison. Naturally if you’re going from east to west coast, you’ll need a few days so it really depends on your needs. For a vacation where you have a bit of extra time, the train can offer a good lower-cost – and more scenic – alternative to flights. If you want really low-cost, you can of course have a look at the bus services but even just from a comfort point of view, these would be bottom of my list!
If you’re planning to take the City of New Orleans service from Chicago, I recommend getting onto booking early and grabbing at least a roomette if not a bedroom. 19 hours in an upright train seat with minimal legroom will not leave you feeling good at the other end!
The roomettes are private rooms with 2 single seats facing each other, perfect if you’re travelling alone (why not take advantage of it?). There are a few types of bedroom but if you can get one with a toilet and shower, you’ll be laughing. Or at least smiling. Especially when it gets to bedtime and you have a double and a bunk bed to choose from!
It’s a big station so do just ask someone if you’re not sure where to go when you get there!
Have you taken an Amtrak train from Union Station? Let me know how you got on in the comments!