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Best parts of my long train ride that took 18 hours + photos – Insider

  • I took an 18-hour train ride from Chicago to Washington DC and there were a few highlights.
  • I’m glad I bought a lounge pass before getting on my train and the onboard drink selection was nice.
  • I loved being able to focus on my work and stretch my legs during smoke breaks. 

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Recently, I traveled in coach on an Amtrak train from Chicago to Washington DC. I love traveling via train, and this method of transportation comes with some great perks. 

Here are some of the best parts of my 18-hour trip:  

The lounge pass was worth every penny 

The lounge with tons of seating and lighting

The Metropolitan Lounge pass was worth it, in my opinion.
Nylah Burton

I was a bit stressed and had a lot of work to do, so I ended up buying a Metropolitan Lounge pass for $35 when I got to Union Station. 

Before I even boarded my train, I was able to relax in a calm area with private, clean bathrooms, comfy couches, lots of outlets, a luggage storage area, free snacks, TVs, and a workstation.

the dining area of the lounge

I was able to get refreshments in the lounge, too.
Nylah Burton

I loved utilizing this space and was glad I didn’t have to pay $500+ for a sleeper car, which comes with lounge access. 

I loved hanging out in the café car 

The writer with her laptop, coffee, and a book on the train

I was able to focus on my work.
Nylah Burton

As soon as I woke up on day two of my trip I headed to the café car to get coffee, eat, and get work done. 

It was nice to leave my seatmate behind and have space to myself while I got some assignments done. 

Being on a train also made it easy for me to focus on what I needed to

I was working this entire trip, but I still felt relatively rested and introspective.

I love that trains are a pause on the rush of life — you can spend hours focused on things like reflecting, working, watching movies, or writing. 

Not everyone can afford to spend this much of their vacation time traveling, but it’s great to be able to slow down from time to time. 

Traveling by train made me less anxious 

Train tracks and a sunrise

The views were nice, too.
Nylah Burton

I’m terrified of flying, so taking a train feels like a relief. 

Even though there are less-than-ideal things about this mode of transportation, nothing beats me feeling safer and more secure.

Train rides help me prioritize my mental health while still allowing me to visit family and explore new places. 

I used smoke breaks to stretch my legs and take in the views

I don’t smoke but these breaks on Amtrak trains are great for stretching your legs and seeing the sights around you — usually farmland or a stretch of road by the tracks with a few fast-food restaurants and mom and pop shops in the distance.

You can also have some pleasant conversations out there. I briefly talked with a mom and her son about where we were headed and what we liked about the train — all of us were vehemently against anxiety-inducing plane rides

The drink selection was pretty impressive 

an Amtrak coffee cup and cup of ice

The coffee was pretty decent and I had a few cups.
Nylah Burton

Offerings included sodas, juices, wine, beer, and some decent coffee

The coffee was a lifesaver this trip because I had so much work to do. I also loved how the attendant in the dining car brought free coffee refills to my table, which was great to have as I was busy typing. Of course, I made sure to tip. 

The attendants on the train were so helpful and kind  

I think Amtrak attendants — from the dining-car staff to the assistants at Red Cap, a service for those who need extra help — are some of the nicest people in the travel industry.

They’re helpful and friendly. They also work hard to make sure that the train is safe for everyone, especially when it comes to ensuring people wear masks. 

I make sure to show the attendants how much I appreciate them by tipping and I encourage other riders to do the same if they can. 


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