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.
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.
Regardless of where I slept, I felt the bumps throughout the night. But the top bunk felt the bumpiest to me.
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.
While the bed, sheets, and blankets were comfier than I expected, I didn't think much of the provided pillows.
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.
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.
Throughout my trip, my Wi-Fi service was spotty, which made getting work done a little tricky.
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.
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.
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.
The cup holders in Amtrak roomettes and bedrooms fit a standard 12-ounce water bottle.
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.
I think you have to view the ride itself as part of your vacation to really enjoy it.
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.
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