Train Traveling Tips

By Ian Acosta on February 6, 2017

So you are deciding to take a trip to visit a friend at school. You do not have access to a car and the bus line you looked up does not stop at your friend’s campus. Outside of hitchhiking, there really aren’t many options left. What then?

You can always travel by train! However, it is your first time traveling by rail and you have a lot of questions and uncertainties before hopping on board. Luckily, there is this handy dandy article you are currently reading to give you some tips on what to look out for when getting on a train for the first time.

Expect delays

Delays and train traveling go hand-in-hand like peanut butter and jelly. When planning your travel itinerary, factor in a couple delays here and there. For example, when I take the Amtrak to and from school, I plan on it being 20-30 minutes late. Sometimes, unfortunately, more. If traveling on a line with multiple stops to and from, expect the delays to only increase.

More often than not, when waiting for the train I expect to hear the desk attendant say something to the effect of, “The 313 is running around 20-30 minutes behind schedule. We apologize for the inconvenience.”

The best way to deal with this is to just give yourself time and anticipate a delay of some sort.

Pack snacks

What is the best way to pass the time caused by those delays? To eat, obviously. Pack some snacks to avoid having to pay for any overpriced food on the train while also bringing exactly what you want. Even better, offer your snacks to your seat mate and make a new friend instantly.

Buy ticket in advance if possible

At least for my experience with Amtrak, the further in advance of your trip that you purchase a ticket, the prices are usually much cheaper than when leading up to it. Especially if the line is known to be busy or in demand, Amtrak tends to usually respond to demand pricing by raising prices for traveling passengers.

Bring your laptop/tablet

Kind of a no-brainer on this one but the point is to have some piece of technology to help the time go quicker. In addition, make sure you have a couple movies or TV shows preloaded onto whatever your multimedia device of preference is in case the train Wi-Fi does not work. Believe me, I have had that happen more often than not and was consequently stuck with nothing to do. Borrow a couple DVDs from your roommate or classmates and this train trek will fly by in no time.

Squeeze in a nap

Everyone loves sleeping. This is a blanket generalization I can make about all college students and I am fully confident nobody will disagree with me. The key here, though, is to find a comfortable way to get in optimal napping position.

What is the best seat to pick for the best train nap you can possibly take? The window seat obviously. The window seat provides the best thing you need for your neck: support. The absolute WORST thing is waking up to a kinked neck due to poor napping form. Do not suffer from amateur napping. Heed this tip.


Traveling by train is probably the absolute best time to set your mind at ease with a good book. Just as you are partaking in your own adventure on the train, you can read a gripping novel or tale. Or, you can use this time to read up on class notes, or a couple chapters covered in lecture that you conveniently forgot about.

Regardless, reading is a good change of pace for those who seem to be buried in their phones and on social media a fair amount of the time.

Fully charge all electronics

This tip is also very, very important. Unless you are privileged to get a seat with an electrical outlet, it may be tough sledding to try and make the entire train ride last with your phone and laptop both at 50 percent battery. If you do happen to sit near a seat with an outlet but not directly next to it, kindly ask the person you are sitting next to, to use it. Common courtesy goes a long way so try and show some here as well.

Be polite

In dealing with the probable delay or train mishap, do your best to remember to be polite whenever possible. This applies to interactions with fellow passengers as well as train employees. It’s not like they can really do anything about the delay anyway. Abide by all rules and guidelines on whichever rail line you choose to use to travel. No one likes a troublemaker, especially someone on public transportation who could potentially cause delays.

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