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Cross country train trip


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We are thinking of taking the train from LA to NYC in early December on our annual trip to New York. Anyone have experience doing cross country/long train trips? Suggestions? Dude....wtf is wrong with you warnings?

hope is to enjoy a few days in a more relaxed environment, photograph some of the older train stations along the way. 

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18 minutes ago, red321 said:

Dude....wtf is wrong with you warnings?


seriously, if you have the time, it sounds like a great idea. not sure how many old trains you will be able to photograph, however. have you checked out the stops? 

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Unlike a car you can roam a little on a train while it rolls along. However, you cannot just pull over and take more time anywhere along the ride, you are captive to the trains schedule.

You also may be travelling through the most scenic areas at night while the days could be the endless flatlands of the mid west.

Also check if your on a shared rail with commercial trains. Amtrak has to pull over and let those pass which could be hours of idling in the middle of nowhere waiting for the frieght lines to pass. Many of those are unpopulated areas so there isn't even a chance to get out and do any sightseeing.


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Red, I’m a huge rail fan.  (Actually planning  a Euro trip solo with a couple of overnight trains mixed in right now).

I use this guys website a lot for guidance: https://www.seat61.com/index-mobile.htm

I know he has some info about the cross-US trips, but maybe not as much as you need.  Also look at peoples videos on YouTube.

I think with Amtrak you are able to work it so you can get off for a night at a city you want to see and get on the next one that rolls through, but not totally sure.  Obviously you’d have to make sure the same sleeper is available.  (I can’t imagine doing a trip like that in a regular seat).

Years ago my buddy and I did an overnight from Denver to Burlington, Iowa.  It was at the dawn of the internet and we were like 20 and we just had a travel agent help.  Might not be a bad idea to talk to one if they still exist, particularly if you intend on getting off and then back on.

And f*ck these naysayers, if you have the time and you enjoy the scenery, it sounds like an awesome idea.

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I took the train from Fullerton to Chicago when I was 8.  It took 2.5 days.  There were some nice scenic sections but it also went trough the crappiest areas too.  My mom and i just had 2 seats, not a private cabin.  If I were to do it again now i would definitely look into a cabin.  The restaurant on the train was pretty good though, this is coming from 8 year old me who probably got chicken fingers or a hot dog.  It did stop here and there but it was just enough time to get off the train and walk around the station's shops, not enough time to get any where else. It was a cool experience though.  

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Thanks, some good info...I'll check out the website you mentioned cals.

One of the reasons we are thinking about doing this is the ability to check out for a few days. Even on vacations we are usually pretty much on the move all the time, so the idea of being tied to someone else's schedule and just sitting back and relaxing with some books has some appeal. We are going to NYC anyways and usually spend a few days before we get there to visit some other locale. Probably setting ourselves up for disappointment, it's that vision going back to the 40's with the fancy dining car with the white linens. Being able to hop off the train for a few minutes at local train stations has it's appeal as well...photo project!

Probably would help to think about the trip some while not sitting in a restored bar at LA union station (https://la.eater.com/2018/9/27/17911034/imperial-western-beer-streamliner-union-station-open-inside-photos....by the way, very cool place especially for those of you who live near a metro line that drop you off right in Union Station).

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For your first trip maybe a train to and fly back. Even if you enjoyed the train there the return won't be as new of an experience and flying back gives you more destination stay time. If you didn't enjoy the experience you won't have to put up with again for several days.

In any case be prepared to solve a murderer mystery along the way. I hear that happens all the time on trains.

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Took the train from North Dakota to Spokane.  As blarg said, the nicest part (Glacier) was in the dark in one direction.

I like it because you can get up and move around any time you want.  It is my understanding though that sleepers are costly and end up being more expensive than a plane.

Regardless, if you have the money, I would do it.  Lots of country to see.

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