Travel by Amtrak train

Pack your bags and get onboard for leisurely budget travel.Pack your bags and get onboard for leisurely budget travel. (Photo: train platform image by Karin Lau from )

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While train travel is a less popular mode of transport in the U.S. than planes or automobiles, it tends to be a more relaxing, not to mention cheaper, way to get around. Over the past 40 years, people have used Amtrak to crisscross the U.S., and in more recent years, ridership on these trains has risen. Though not the most luxurious way to travel, Amtrak offers reliable service that allows passengers to simply sit back and enjoy the ride.

Items you will need

  • Internet access
  • Train schedules and maps
  • Debit or credit card
  • Train tickets

Step 1

Log on to Amtrak’s website to look at train schedules and fares for your chosen destinations, or visit your nearest station and ask for the most recent Amtrak America brochure, which includes information about all major train routes (see Resources). Both the website and brochure also include train travel packages and descriptions of the different train car layouts and sleeping compartments.

Step 2

Purchase your Amtrak tickets as far in advance as possible to lock in the lowest prices, either online or in person at a train station. If you buy online, print out the ticket voucher and bring it with you aboard the train. Either way, for most routes, passengers are required to buy their train tickets before boarding.

Step 3

Bring check-in or carry-on luggage that weighs 50 pounds or less, in accordance with Amtrak and federal travel regulations. Pack no more than two carry-on bags and up to 3 check-in bags per passenger, making sure to put any fragile belongings in your carry-on luggage. Check in your luggage at the train station no later than 30 minutes before the scheduled departure time, and allow even more time at large, busy stations. Stow your carry-on luggage under the seat in front of you or on the overhead shelves built into most trains.

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