I initially rode a 20-hour train from Chicago to NYC. Ten surprises

I initially rode a 20-hour train from Chicago to NYC. Ten surprises

After flying from New York to Chicago, I chose to return via Amtrak.

I wore my mask throughout most of the twenty-hour drive.
Jenny Silber

I took a two-and-a-half-hour flight from New York to Chicago and a 20-hour Amtrak train ride back. I had never traveled by train between the two cities before, so I was unsure of what to anticipate.

The comfort of the coach seats on Amtrak reminded me of first-class seats I’ve seen on flights.

The Amtrak seats were spacious and leather-upholstered.

Jenny Silber

I’ve never travelled first class before, but whenever I’ve boarded a plane and seen people sipping champagne in leather chairs, I couldn’t help but feel envious.

The coach seats on my Amtrak journey resembled those coveted, seemingly unreachable first-class airplane seats. The legroom was sufficient for someone twice my size, and the chairs included a footrest. In addition, they reclined almost completely.

Twenty-hour journeys are daunting regardless of the style of transportation, but the Amtrak seats made the trip as comfortable as possible.

I was incapable of falling asleep on the train.

The car’s lights never went out, making it difficult for me to fall asleep.

Jenny Silber

My train left Chicago at 9:30 p.m., so everybody prepared for bed practically immediately. Even though the seats were comfortable, Amtrak did not appear to take any additional steps to facilitate sleep.

The car lights remained on, and each time the train stopped and started, I jolted awake. The man seated in front of me worked on his laptop throughout the night, and his screen’s brightness kept me awake.

On other overnight modes of transportation, attendants often distribute blankets, eye masks, and earplugs for free, but I did not receive any of these goods on the Amtrak train.

I did not experience claustrophobia and was able to roam freely throughout the train.

Several rest breaks were made along the route.

Jenny Silber

I cannot think of anything I want to do for twenty consecutive hours, including sitting on a train.

The thought of being confined to a single seat, unable to move, and surrounded by strangers made me regret purchasing the train ticket on impulse days before the trip.

However, I was free to stroll around the train and even stepped off at numerous rest stations to enjoy the fresh air. We stopped for nearly an hour and a half in Rensselaer, New York, allowing me to get refreshments and walk around.

I felt less anxious and trapped on the Amtrak train compared to other public transportation options.

The Wi-Fi was so sluggish that it essentially did not exist.

I was unable to complete certain projects due to the unstable Wi-Fi.

Jenny Silber

Amtrak promises free Wi-Fi on many of its trains, so my original goal was to work remotely for the most of my 20-hour shift. However, when I attempted to connect to the onboard network, it was either non-existent or so slow that it might as well have been.

Fortunately, I was able to complete certain tasks that did not require Wi-Fi, but the lack of internet on the train caused me unnecessary worry.

In addition, we were traveling through such isolated locations that I could not even rely on the data connection on my cell phone.

My train ticket was only $23 cheaper than my plane ticket.

The boarding procedure was smooth and expedient.

Jenny Silber

My trip from New York to Chicago and my return train ticket were astonishingly comparable in price. The cost of my rail ticket was $90, whereas my aircraft ticket was $113.

I had assumed that using the train would be more cost-effective. However, at the difference of $23, I would recommend saving hours and taking the flight.

There was no security line to board the train, and my ticket was not checked until after the train had departed the station.

I boarded the train well before departure, but I was pleased to have ample time to settle in.

Jenny Silber

Even though the train was one of the longest ways I could have traveled from Chicago to New York, it was one of the quickest and easiest public transportation departures I’ve ever experienced.

I arrived at Union Square Station in Chicago approximately 30 minutes prior to departure and boarded the train without delay.

Before boarding, there were no metal detectors or security officers who asked me questions, and no one checked my ticket until after the train had departed the station.

Solo train travel was less than ideal because I had no one to watch my things when I woke up.

From Chicago to New York, I caught my first intercity train.

Jenny Silber

I appreciated the freedom of leaving my seat (and even the train at times), but I was terrified about leaving my possessions behind with no one to watch over them.

All coach seats were assigned at random, but Amtrak makes every effort to seat passengers traveling together.

Not only does traveling with someone else allow them to care for you, but it also allows you to alternate between aisle and window seats.

I was permitted to board the train with significantly more baggage than I had anticipated.

On the train, I could have packed more luggage and carry-ons.

Jenny Silber

Every Amtrak passenger is permitted two checked bags, two carry-on bags, and two personal items at no cost. Each additional checked bag costs $20.

This vacation only required one personal item and one carry-on, but it was comforting to know that I wouldn’t have to pay hundreds of dollars more if I wanted to bring a lot more items.

I would like to do another lengthy train journey, but not from Chicago to New York.

My experience was less than ideal, but it did not deter me from future rail travel.

Laser1987/Getty Images

I disliked several aspects of the train; yet, I rarely spend such lengthy periods of time by myself, disconnected from the internet.

Some individuals, including myself before to this experience, may view this solitude as a nightmare, but I do not regret taking the time to gaze out the window at nature and rest.

The next time I board a long-distance train, I will go for a more scenic route, such as Amtrak’s California Zephyr.

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