Going on my first Amtrak trip next week . . . I’ve surfed a few opinion sites and skimmed this thread, but would like a bit more specific info, if anyone would care to share.
(1) Suggestions on what to take along for an overnight trip (munchies, comfort items, etc.)? We don’t have a sleeper, only coach seats. I’ve read that hot water is available for soup/coffee/etc, and we plan to pack nonperishable snacks. Also will have a laptop, iPod, books, etc.
(2) I’m a little concerned about bag security on the train. It appears that unless you have a room, there’s no way to lock up your bags. One site said that bags are “reasonably” safe left unattended on the train, but I’m thinking nuh-uh, no way, I’d like to keep my stuff, thanks. Do we have to be the dorks who drag our bags with us wherever we go on the train? Or go separately so one can stay behind and watch the bags?
(3) We will have a layover each way at Union Station in Chicago. Probably enough time for a decent meal on the outbound leg. Suggestions?
(4) I haven’t called Amtrak yet to confirm (and I plan to), but I’ll welcome any input on this: Thus far it appears that if you miss a connecting train because of a delay on your previous train, sucks to be you. I’m a little worried about our incoming layover, which is only about 4-1/2 hours. www.amtrakdelays.com shows only one day in the last four weeks where the connection was missed, so the odds look good, but I’m concerned about contingencies, just in case.
We would be able to drive home from Chicago comfortably (4 hours) if we could rent a car at Union Station, but so far that doesn’t seem possible online, because either the rental places are closed when we’d need a car, or because they won’t allow a one-way rental that far.
Would we be able to just get a hotel and then hop the next day’s train, or would we need to buy a new ticket? It’s looking like the latter, and again I’ll probably call to confirm, but would like to hear if anyone has experience with this.
(5) Hotels near Union Station in case we get stuck? This would be worst-case scenario, because Mr. S is likely to be scheduled to work the next day, and missing work would be A Bad Thing. Plus our dogs would be stuck in the kennel an extra day.
So I’m really really really crossing my fingers that everything is on time for our return trip.
Any other comments or suggestions would be very welcome. Thanks!