I spent 60 hours on overnight Amtrak trips. Here are 9 things I wish I had known before I took the long-haul journeys.

·3 min read
The author is seen inside (L) and outside (r) the Amtrak train
Insider's reporter spent 60 hours in Amtrak sleeper cars, and she learned some things about overnight train travel she regrets not knowing before.Joey Hadden/Insider
  • I regret not knowing a few things ahead of my first long-haul, overnight Amtrak rides.

  • The trips from New York to Miami and back were 30 hours each, but time seemed to pass more slowly.

  • I wish I'd known internet service wouldn't be reliable, among other lessons I learned the hard way.

Both train rides felt bumpy the whole time.

A photo showing outside the train window
A view out the window as the train is moving.Joey Hadden/Insider

This is not an exaggeration. I found both trips as bumpy as a flight while the seat-belt sign is on from start to finish. Had I known this before my trip, I might have packed some medicine to prevent motion sickness.

Read more: I took a 30-hour train from New York to Miami, and the motion sickness and terrible sleep were too much for me

Regardless of where I slept, I felt the bumps throughout the night. But the top bunk felt the bumpiest to me.

The author lays in the train bed looking out the window on the left side
The author lies in the top bunk during her first overnight train ride.Joey Hadden/Insider

After sleeping on both the top and bottom bunks, I found it's easier to sleep on the bottom because it feels a little less shaky.

Read more: I spent $1,000 for a 45-square-foot bedroom with its own bathroom on a 30-hour Amtrak ride. Take a look inside.

While the bed, sheets, and blankets were comfier than I expected, I didn't think much of the provided pillows.

The author wakes up to morning light in the train bed.
The author wakes up in the morning during her second overnight train ride.Joey Hadden/Insider

The beds on my Amtrak trains were firm and slightly cushy on top, just the way I like a bed. But when I was drifting off to sleep each night, I thought of my fluffy, dense, soft pillows at home.

Although the roomette sleeps two, it can feel cramped even for one person.

The author sits in a roomette with a window on the left side and a duffel on the right.
The author sits in the roomette.Joey Hadden/Insider

I am 5-feet-3 and of average build, and I felt cramped in the roomette's 25 square feet of space. If I were taller or larger, I imagine I would feel even more cramped. This makes the upgrade to a larger bedroom worth it, in my opinion.

Read more: I paid $500 extra to upgrade my room on a 30-hour Amtrak ride, and I thought the additional 20 square feet was worth every penny

Throughout my trip, my Wi-Fi service was spotty, which made getting work done a little tricky.

The author uses her laptop while sitting in a blue seat with a window showing greenery outside on her right
The author works during her ride.Joey Hadden/Insider

I had planned to spend several hours of each journey working on my laptop. But the train's internet connection wasn't consistent, so I had to adapt my workflow.

My cell-data service was also in and out throughout the journey.

The author plays on her nintendo on the left and phone on the right
The author uses her Nintendo Switch and her phone on the train.Joey Hadden/Insider

With spotty internet and cell service on my phone, too, I wished I'd downloaded more movies and shows from streaming apps to keep myself occupied.

Time seemed to pass more slowly on my 30-hour journeys.

The author is relaxing on the left and dancing on the right inside her tiny roomette
The author passes the time on her first overnight train ride.Joey Hadden/Insider

It shouldn't come as a surprise, then, that 30 hours felt twice as long as it usually does in my regular daily life. I was glad that I at least packed other things to keep me occupied, such as my Nintendo Switch and music.

Read more: I spent 30 hours on an Amtrak from NYC to Miami. Here are 11 ways I made the long ride more bearable.

The cup holders in Amtrak roomettes and bedrooms fit a standard 12-ounce water bottle.

The authors water bottle is seen next to a cup holder that's too small
The author's water bottle didn't fit in the cup holder.Joey Hadden/Insider

I brought a big water bottle to stay hydrated on my long journey, but I would have packed a few smaller ones had I known of the cup-holder sizes.

Read more: I spent 60 hours on Amtrak trains with a carry-on bag and a backpack. Here are 7 things I regret not packing and 9 items I'm glad I brought.

I think you have to view the ride itself as part of your vacation to really enjoy it.

The author sits in a train car with graffiti out the window on the left
The author sits in a roomette on an overnight Amtrak.Joey Hadden/Insider

As someone who deals with travel anxiety, I found the length of the trip overwhelming. It's tough for me to relax when I am between destinations, and for some reason, I struggled to view the train as a destination in itself.

But if you can think of the train ride as part of your journey, I think you'll find it much more enjoyable.

Read more: I took a 30-hour train from New York to Miami, and the motion sickness and terrible sleep were too much for me

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