I’ve been using Amtrak as a means of travel for 17+ years. My first trip on Amtrak was from New York to North Carolina to visit the man who would become my future husband. Since then I’ve been hooked on using them because of the ease and non-hassle they provide that airlines don’t at times. And, if you don’t prefer flying then this is the perfect mode of travel. I’ve had my share of traveling in every class of seating they offer and always encourage people to ride them when possible. There are definitely some pros and cons in which I will be sure to share both.
As a plus size woman, I sometimes struggle in airline seats. In addition to them not being wide enough, you are entirely to close to people on planes. Amtrak, on the other hand, gives you an amazing 39 inches of room with seats that are 23 inches in width. When I had my son I could sit his carrier on the floor and still have room to stretch my legs. In comparison, most airline seats only give you 17.5 inches in width and very little room to move your legs. The seats are plush and comfortable and also have a footrest that you can pop out or at least used to.
While this could be a good or bad thing depending on how you view it, Amtrak lets you bring what you want on the train. This is unlike the airport where you have to worry about what you pack and how you pack. On Amtrak, you can bring your own drinks and nothing has to be under 3 ounces. You can check up to (2) 50-pound suitcases FREE. You can even bring them on the train and there’s a ton of overhead space to store them. You can bring your own drinks and snacks. I’ve seen people literally bring loaves of bread and jars of mayo. There’s also no security lines to worry about and long walks to your train. You literally walk out the train station door (unless you’re in a bigger city) and walk right up to the train platform.
The amenities on Amtrak are the biggest reason why I love Amtrak. Every seat whether in coach or business class offers outlets so there’s no worrying about devices battery draining. The other hot seller is the FREE Wifi. Most times when I’ve flown, I’ve had to pay for internet access. Of course, you can’t do any major streaming because it affects the bandwidth for others, but I’ve always been able to get plenty of work done and upload or download email attachments. There are also two bathrooms in each car, and they are both a good size. What’s their best amenity of all? That would definitely be the ‘Cafe Cart”. It is there that you can get everything from bagels and cream cheese to tasty sandwiches, salads, and quick microwaveable items.
Classes of Seating
While I mentioned the sizes of seating above, I should mention the types of seating classes available. On Amtrak, the seating options consist of Coach, Business Class, and Rooms/Roomettes. In terms of seating, Amtrak does a great job of giving ample space no matter what section you sit in. However, I prefer business class because I find it to be quiet, drinks are complimentary, you tend to never have to sit next to anyone and it’s usually less crowded. Whenever I travel from the Fayetteville, North Carolina station we are told to go to a number located on the train platform. There are usually only four to five people getting on at the business section in comparison to the dozens getting on at coach.
Last June my daughter and I traveled to Orlando and decided to stay in a roomette. This is basically a very tiny room with a sliding door, sink, toilet, and beds. It’s pretty small but super cozy. The best part is that meals are complimentary with your ticket. We were able to enjoy breakfast in our room and lunch in the dining cart. The downside of the roomette is the toilet. While it’s great to be able to have your own, the toilet is not in its own covered area. It sits directly in the room. Outside of that one small annoyance, sleeping to the motion of the moving train was phenomenal.
One of my reasons for traveling on Amtrak is the serenity and calm that the different clips of scenery bring. Traveling on Amtrak in the Southeast region means lots of beautiful trees, fields, older Victorian homes and areas where you don’t see any people. You literally wonder with all the millions of people in the world how it is possible to not see one person for miles. Those thoughts are what makes taking Amtrak such a relaxing peaceful experience. While I haven’t traveled Amtrak on the West Coast, I have heard the scenery over there is to die for with views of the water and mountains.
Lastly, Amtrak, for the most part, is affordable. I have only traveled up and down the South and Northern Corridors, but outside of my roomette, I have never paid more than $200 for a ticket. Coach tickets sometimes go as low as $64 each way. Even business class is not extremely overpriced and usually, cost only $30-$40 more than a regular coach ticket. Going across the country proves to cost more, but it’s an amazing way to see all of America.
With all good things comes some bad. In Amtrak’s case, their good outweighs the bad, but they are notoriously famous for schedule delays. They also use to give blankets and pillows with disposable covers. I’ve noticed they don’t do that anymore. Lastly, there are no TV’s in the seats like on some airplanes.
All in all, if you aren’t in a rush to get to your destination and are looking to try something different then consider a ride on Amtrak . It’s a fun added adventure on to your destination.