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Never taken Amtrak before--any tips?

Old Feb 13th, 2003, 05:29 PM
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Join Date: Feb 2003
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Never taken Amtrak before--any tips?

Hi, I'm a 16 year old from the Philly region traveling by myself to DC for a week in March. I've never taken Amtrak before and had a few questions.

My tickets are for reserved coach (on the way there) and unreserved coach (ono the way back). What do these things mean? How much luggage can I take, and are there any size limits? Also, how early before my train departure time should I arrive at the station?

Thanks for your help in advance, and any other tips would be appreciated.
rach320 is offline  
Old Feb 13th, 2003, 05:40 PM
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Reserved means that there is a seat available for each ticket sold. Unreserved means that they sell more tickets than there are seats, so it would be a good idea to get in line to board the train early enough so that you can get a seat.

You should probably arrive at the station about 30 minutes prior to departure so that you have enough time to check in your luggage and get in line for the train.

The weblink below has information on Amtrak's baggage policies.

Have a great trip.
DavidDJ is offline  
Old Feb 13th, 2003, 05:59 PM
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When I've taken Amtrak from Washington D.C., I've noticed that people get up from the waiting area and start standing in line in front of the gate a good 15 to 20 minutes before boarding time. Since this is the unreserved leg of your trip, it's a good thing to keep in mind so that you can get your choice of seats. The nice thing about Union Station in Washington D.C. is that they have a large food court on the ground level as well as shopping on the upper levels, so if you have some time to kill before going to your gate, you shouldn't have any trouble keeping yourself occupied.
Julie is offline  
Old Feb 13th, 2003, 06:41 PM
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You can bring 1 large piece of luggage up to 28 inches and 2 carry ons. All will need to have a luggage/ID tag due to the heightened security along the NE corridor. Bring books, cd player, snacks, bottled drinks etc. Refreshments purchased onboard are overpriced and the ride from PHL-DC isn't too scenic but you'll have a great time in Washington, assuming that you're only traveling by train alone and will meet with others upon your arrival. If your return train has no seats left you'll have to stand but as soon as the train pulls into Baltimore, look for people getting up to leave and grab their seat. Don't collect your carry ons until you've established your seat, i.e. leave your coat there first then get up to move your stuff closer to you.
Fantasia is offline  
Old Feb 13th, 2003, 06:51 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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Good advice on bringing snack, water etc. It's a relatively short ride but if you anticipate wanting to take a nap in either direction, bring your own small travel pillow - they're in short supply on the trains - ditto for blankets. Wear some layers - the temp on the trains is generally tolerable but I sometimes find it a bit cooler or warmer than I like.
Owen_ONeill is offline  
Old Feb 14th, 2003, 02:42 PM
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Going from Boston to NY we did not check our luggage, didn't know how or that it was possible. Then we learned we had to hoist it above our heads into the overhead racks (larger than planes). This was very difficult for us girls and I would consider myself a sturdy, strong woman. No one who saw us struggling offered to help (maybe an East coast thing) so... if you don't check luggage be aware you may have to hoist it up yourself.

Food is also expensive on the train and you can take your own on so take some snacks.

Take a book or something to do.
SaraLM is offline  
Old Feb 14th, 2003, 03:17 PM
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I don't think any of the trains between Bos & NYP have checked luggage service, only the #448 Bos-Chicago. Usually only the longest trains (eg: NY-Florida, NY-Chicago) have checked luggage.

I've often brought a CD player, but have never used it. I've found the company on trains more interesting. People just seem a little friendlier on a train, yet I've never had anyone who was overbearing.

Amtrak food/drink is a little overpriced, but you might wish to go to the snack car (or dining car if you're on a long-distance train) for a soda or coffee and some friendly chit-chat.
rb_travelerxATyahoo is offline  
Old Feb 15th, 2003, 06:55 AM
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"rach," for the DC-Philly part of the trip, you might want to check to see if there is a "business class" car. For such a short trip, the extra charge for that wouldn't be much. The advantage is that even though you don't have a reserved seat per se, you will be guaranteed A seat, you get free beverages, and often there's a TVVCR (although you need your own earphones). Also, since the car is usually on the other side of the cafe car from the rest of the train, you don't get people bumping through the car and you can get to the cafe easily yourself.

Or is this what you have from the Phila-DC leg already? I had assumed you were on a Metroliner for "reserved coach," but perhaps not.

The other possible difference is that one train is a "local" that only goes between, say, NYC and DC, where the "reserved" one is part of a long-distance run from, say, Boston to Florida.
soccr is offline  
Old Feb 15th, 2003, 01:36 PM
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I'd say bring earplugs because people are noisy. I'd also suggest if you want to nap a little, take a small pillow and some reading material or puzzles if you want to stay up. You may also want to bring along some soda and munchies as the train's food is overpriced. In regard to luggage I'd just take a carry-on and pilot case for a week in D.C. and mix and match like outfits and colors.

I do think you are smart in taking the train as Union Station is a very attractive and historic place and very convenient to the subway.

Stephanie is offline  
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