Seven Tips for Your First Cross Country Journey

Seven Tips for Your First Cross Country Journey

Gearing up for your first cross country train  journey? Travel blogger Kelley Ferro, who traveled from Chicago to Los Angeles aboard the epic Southwest Chief, has seven tips for getting the most out of your journey!

If you don’t know anything about the Southwest Chiefit’s one of Amtrak’s long-distance trains. In fact, this long train ride crosses across the mighty Mississippi River, through eight states and past wheat fields, mountains and even deserts. Despite the distance, Kelley explains in the video above that it’s easy to stay entertained while riding.

First, there’s amazing views! Some of the coolest parts about the long train ride are when the train goes through canyon passages only a few feet wider than the train itself.

For the best sights (and Instagram pics), check out the observation car, also sometimes referred to as our sightseer lounge (ohhh, fancy). With their floor-to-ceiling windows, they bring daydreaming out the window to a whole new level … literally. That’s because when you’re in one you’re actually on the second floor of the train.

Secondly, there’s plenty of chances to meet your fellow travelers. Our awesome dining car is the perfect place to chat with other passengers and even Amtrak staff. That car is where we serve breakfast, lunch and dinner. The meals are free when you book in a sleeper car (Coach passengers pay a la carte).

So what are you waiting for? ChicagoLos Angeles, and hundreds of other destinations are calling your name. Do like Kelley did. Grab your best buds and start your adventure today!

Have you ever taken an overnight train trip? Tell us about it in the comments below!

4 comments
JillFitz
JillFitz

If you're going to do this in coach, make sure you do it on a Viewliner. The regional-style cars are just not cut out for it. I've taken the capitol limited several times and had all good experiences. Took the Lake Shore Limited once and was miserable, rude staff, cramped cars, no lounge area unless you are actively buying food. But the Viewliners are lovely. Pack snacks (or meals if you're trying to cut costs). Pack books.  Pack an entire season of your favorite television show. Plan on not having cell service for much of the trip. Pack a blanket. Pack some hand sanitizer (the bathrooms leave a bit to be desired). And if you're travelling coach, and not getting off in the middle of the night, hang out in the lounge car until everyone packs it in and sleep there. You can stretch out, and the staff usually doesn't bother you. 

DougDobbs
DougDobbs

Loved my cross country train trip in 2005.  Advice for first timers?  Spend the money, get a sleeping cabin.  Bring a light fleece blanket to snooze comfortably if you're in coach class.  Headphones for audio privacy or to mask out crying babies.  Cam corder to record gorgeous scenery.  Make lots of new friends.  Use some sort of GPS so you can locate pretty sites to come back and investigate on foot later (you never know where you are).  I spent a lot of time shooting video on my "great loop" trip from coast to coast to coast and just love looking at those hours of footage now, so many years later.  :)

ValentinoLeBeauf
ValentinoLeBeauf

I am a 62 year old man from the South originally ( La.). With family in California the preferred way to travel was by train, and saying that the train I grew on was the Sunset Limited. Now that I am retired my hobby and preferred mode of travel is the train. So in the past 1 1/2 years I have taken the Pacific Surfliner from Fullerton to SanDiego. My biggest trip has been from LAX to Norfolk, Va. I loved the privacy of a bedroom on the train. I really enjoy the food on the train, and on that train I saw a million things/sights at ground level that I would have never seen in a plane,bus or car. I have been to New Mexico twice, because of family relocating and this introduced me to one of the biggest hot air ballon festival's plus their love of chili's. The last big over night trip, gave me a flash back to my childhood as I traveled to New Orleans and this was during Mardi Gras. Now you may not be a big fan of the train as I am, but I know that you are not a bigger fan of the train than I am. Next trip for me this summer will be the Coast Star Light. Okay I'll see you in the dinning car.