by Mark Albert
Top Travel Tips in Two Minutes
Love it? Live it!
- Coast Starlight
- Southwest Chief
- California Zephyr
- City of New Orleans
- Capitol Limited
- Acela (Amtrak expanded service on the Northeast Corridor as of April 8, 2017)
For more ideas for planning your route by rail, check out LONELY PLANET’S USA guide at Amazon.com. Thank you for using our referral (“affiliate”) link to support our journalism.
Station parking and features like wifi, an enclosed waiting area, ticket office, and restrooms vary by location. Check out the routes and stations directory before arriving at your departure station.
Major stations have a day rate for parking, including overnight parking. Smaller stations often have free parking, but no long-term options.
Amtrak allows two personal pieces of carry-on luggage, so feel free to bring a cooler with refreshments and snacks for your train trip. Most medium and long-distance Amtrak trains do provide a Lounge Car with carryout-type food items including sandwiches, pizza, snacks, and beverages including liquor, wine, and beer. Many short-distance trains offer a Café Car with similar offerings as the Lounge Car.
Most long-distance trains have a Dining Car for a full, sit-down breakfast, lunch, or dinner prepared fresh on the train. If you’ve reserved a sleeper car, your meals are included, so for dinner you might feast on Herb-Roasted Chicken, Amtrak’s Signature Steak, or the Seafood Catch of the Day. Menus vary, so check your train’s menu before departing. Coach passengers may purchase items at the menu rate.
Passengers make reservations in advance for lunch and dinner. The staff will come by and schedule your reservations in advance. No need for breakfast reservations.
Sleeper cars—For an additional fee, you can watch the scenery in the privacy of a sleeper car. Most sleeper cars hold two passengers and include niceties like coffee and bottled water, meals in the dining car, and an attendant. Learn more about sleeping accommodations.
Kids—Infants under age 2 ride free. Up to two children, ages 2-12, can ride for 50% off when accompanied by a passenger at the full adult fare.
Military—Valid active-duty US military personnel, their spouses, and their dependents are eligible to receive a 10% discount on the lowest available rail fare on most Amtrak trains.
Seniors—Amtrak travelers 62 years of age and over are eligible to receive a 10% discount on the lowest available rail fare on most Amtrak trains (recently lowered from 15%).
AAA—Members used to save 10% when you use your AAA card; this discount appears to have ended as of January 2018.
Rail Passes—If you’re planning a long-distance trip with multiple stops, a rail pass will often be a more affordable option. Choose between a 15-day (8 segments), 30-day (12 segments), or 45-day (18 segments) pass. Visit here for prices and additional info on booking.
For more in-depth travel advice on traveling the United States by rail, consider these guidebooks, which you can check out via our referral (“affiliate”) link on Amazon.com. Thank you for supporting our journalism.
What are your favorite rail routes in the United States, Canada, or abroad?
Share your favorite tips and tricks in the comment section below!
The Voyage Report contributor Jill Dutton is also publisher of Evolving Magazine. She caught the train travel bug at a young age when she spent three months in Europe with a Eurail pass. Now, she enjoys traveling—and writing about–the U.S. and Canada by rail.
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