What It’s Really Like To Travel In An Amtrak Sleeper Car

I’ve been thinking a lot about this summer – specifically, how (if?) I’m going to see my parents. I’m anxious about the fall bringing another outbreak, and not seeing them for an entire year (or more) doesn’t feel like a thing I can handle. I also don’t know if we even technically can travel this summer – it feels like the rules are changing on a near-daily basis – but I figured it’s worth coming up with some ideas just in case we can make it happen.

I’ve thought about risking a flight, then quarantining myself before seeing them. I’ve thought about an RV. I’ve thought about teleportation (get on it, Elon). What I haven’t – or hadn’t – yet thought about was Amtrak. And then, after my accident the other week, I found myself aboard one for the first time in my life, and now I am obsessed.

what it's like to travel in an amtrak sleeper car

The observation deck

I’m pretty sure I’ve been on an Amtrak at some point or another, but I’d definitely forgotten just how lovely they are. There’s a huge observation deck with massive windows and seats facing out to the scenery, a lounge car with a bar, a dining car, and large, clean seats. I decided to book a sleeper car because I was anxious about the possibility of being on a crowded train (I needn’t have been; the train was nearly empty), and also because it sounded like a kinda cool experience. Which it was.

Let’s break it down.

The Cost: For a four-hour ride in the sleeper car, I paid $131, as opposed to $41 for a regular seat. This isn’t peanuts, but compared to a four-hour flight, the experience was infinitely more pleasurable.

what it's like to travel in an amtrak sleeper car

The sleeper car section

Boarding: This was my first surprise. The sleeper cars are in a totally distinct part of the train, and you’re greeted by – I kid you not – your personal valet, who shows you the amenities (pillows, water bottles, etc), stores your luggage, takes your dinner order (!), and is basically there to help you with whatever. They’re also responsible for sanitization: When my valet saw me wiping down the seats, he assured me that he’d already done that just prior to my arrival. Aw, Vincent! You’re the best.

what it's like to travel in an amtrak sleeper car what it's like to travel in an amtrak sleeper car

what it's like to travel in an amtrak sleeper car

The Space: The car consists of two respectably sized chairs facing each other. Each chair can recline down to a sleeping position (although not both at the same time). In between the seats is a retractable desk for eating and working, and above the seats is a pull-down bunk that would be great for kids (for me, alas, nothankyou #claustrophobia). There’s also a small coat closet, and each seat has a personal light and fan, as on a plane. You can close the curtains, or both the curtains and the glass door if you want even more privacy.

what it's like to travel in an amtrak sleeper car

The Extras: I was legit stunned when Vincent asked me for my dinner order. My WHAT. There were four different options, and I ordered based on Vincent’s rec – some kind of creamy chicken pasta situation that was much more delicious than it should have been (this is relatively speaking, of course; my expectations were zero). The dinner also came with bread, salad, a very spectacular toffee brownie, and a cocktail of my choice. For freeeeee! Again: WHAT.

what it's like to travel in an amtrak sleeper car

(Okay, I may have had two glasses of wine. And I may have fallen asleep, right there in my little sleeper car. I will be traveling this way again, mark my words.)

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