A Few Tricks of the (Train Travel) Trade

It’s interesting how often I’ve picked up tips from train travel veterans that make a long-distance train trip a little more comfortable or a little more convenient. For instance …
Two small instead of one big

Two people sharing a Superliner roomette often find it cramped and awkward for changing clothes. And climbing up into the upper berth can be a struggle for some of us who may be old or creaky or a bit on the bulky side. That’s why many couples opt for the big bedroom instead of a roomette. But they can be awfully pricey and, although it’s a lot easier, someone will still have to climb up into the upper berth. So, as an alternative, consider buying two roomettes. Both of you have a lower berth; both of you have privacy when you want it; and if you book a roomette on each side of the train, you won’t miss any of the scenery. And usually the two roomettes will cost less than one of the bedrooms.

Sleeping up is better
A friend who often travels overnight on eastern trains, buys a roomette in a Viewliner sleeping car. When it’s time to go to bed, he asks the car attendant to prepare the upperberth. So what’s the rationale for choosing to sleep up top? The upper berth is quite comfortable, the facing seats down below remain up and available all night, and the little in-room toilet is more accessible. And there’s a window for the upper berth in Viewliner sleepers, so it’s not as claustrophobic as upper berths in Superliner roomettes.
Go east in order to go west
Several of us NARP* board members attending a meeting in Buffalo arrived from Chicago on Amtrak’s Lake Shore Limited at 9:45 in the morning. But we also were returning to Chicago on the same train and it departs from Buffalo’s Depew Station at midnight. Ugh! None of us wanted to stay up until midnight to catch the westbound Lake Shore, let alone stand freezing in the wind on the Depew platform waiting for it to arrive. So a couple of savvy train travel vets came up with a nifty solution: we caught the eastbound Maple Leaf at 3:10 in the afternoon, got off in Utica at 5:15 and had leisurely drinks and an excellent dinner at a local restaurant. We walked back to the magnificent Utica station, relaxed in the waiting room for a bit, and then caught the westbound Lake Shore Limited at 8:45. I was sound asleep when the train passed through Buffalo at midnight. Oh yes, and our kind host for the meetings didn’t have to drive us to the train station at midnight. Additional cost? A bit more than $40 per person … and worth it.

* National Association of Railroad Passengers