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421 Texas Eagle

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AdventureGal

Guest
I am an experienced traveler, by air and car. But have not done much long distance train travel in the States. A short stint from Chicago to Memphis on the City of New Orleans route in 2001 was that last time I traveled by Amtrak. This spring (March 22) my 8yr old son (the avid train fan) and I plan to travel from Chicago to Tucson on the Texas Eagle, we plan to book a roomette.

Some general questions:

1. I don't plan to check baggage, but instead use our backpacking packs for luggage. But is there room in a roomette to stow the packs without tripping over them, or conversly sleeping with them? Would checking a large bag and relying on a smaller day pack be a better option?

2. For booking a roomette, meals are included. Does that mean delivered to the roomette? Or when we go to the dining car we just show our tickets.

3. I'm assuming no blankets are provided, if travelling in March, should we bring some type of sleeping bag or blanket?

4. What are some basic "when travelling long distances by train" tips for us?

Thanks!
 

daveyb99

OBS Chief
Joined
Mar 10, 2005
Messages
910
Location
Grapevine, TX
... plan to travel from Chicago to Tucson on the Texas Eagle, we plan to book a roomette.
Cool ... then you figured out by mentioning #421 that it the through train.

1. I don't plan to check baggage, but instead use our backpacking packs for luggage. But is there room in a roomette to stow the packs without tripping over them, or conversly sleeping with them? Would checking a large bag and relying on a smaller day pack be a better option?
a backpack like 'look, I am traveling across Europe" or 'hey kids, time for school". The former would be tight, the later just fine. Take a larger bag and check it is an option too.

2. For booking a roomette, meals are included. Does that mean delivered to the roomette? Or when we go to the dining car we just show our tickets.
Meals included, and you can get them in you room, but it is a little cramped to do that. Eat in the diner. Just show and sign, the easy -- you will figure it out.

3. I'm assuming no blankets are provided, if travelling in March, should we bring some type of sleeping bag or blanket?
full bedding provided, plus temp control.

4. What are some basic "when travelling long distances by train" tips for us?
have fun, don't get impatient, always check to see if a Bedroom opens at a lower price than your Roomette :)
 

Devil's Advocate

Sarcastic Misanthrope
Joined
May 24, 2010
Messages
11,935
Location
Texas
You can store a couple small backpacks in the roomette. Anything bigger is probably too big to be practical. There is not much room in there. Certainly no large backpacks or luggage. The big stuff can and should be checked IMO. Medium stuff in the downstairs luggage area and small stuff in your room. Meals are included either in the diner or in your room as you prefer. Many folks would tip the SCA a couple bucks for breakfast or lunch and maybe five or so for dinner. It's rare to have to show your tickets to anyone once you're on the train but you will need your car and room number to sign the check. Blankets are provided along with pillows and sheets. They should have a few extras around as well. No need for a sleeping bag. Hope that helps. ^_^
 

jb64

OBS Chief
Joined
Dec 30, 2010
Messages
748
Location
STA
The cars have luggage racks downstairs, so you could always store larger bags there without checking them which gives you some flexibility as you can access those during the trip, unlike checked baggage.

While blankets are provided, I like to take one of my own travel blankets, too, as well as my own pillow. Amtrak pillows are very small and thin.

My biggest contribution: do not spend all your time in your room. Go to the lounge, meet people, and get a better view of the passing countryside.

Hope you have a great trip.
 

Bob Dylan

Conductor
Joined
May 31, 2009
Messages
21,215
Location
Austin Texas
:hi: Nice trip on my home Train! Since others have expressed very valid answers to your questions Ill provide a couple of tips to help make your trip smoother and more enjoyable:

1)this is a three day/two night trip with arrival into TUS about 10PM @ night! You will spend one night in the San Antonio station waiting to be hooked up to the Sunset Ltd. (your Sleeper and a Coach will be cut out in SAS), with the Sleeper being on the end of the train! This means the Diner (a CCC, Cross Country Cafe) will be on the front of the Train so the walk to the Diner will give you exercise plus its fun to see the whole train as you roll down the Rails! As was said, eating in your Roomette is cramped, let me urge you to go eat in the Diner! And the Bar-B-Q that is served on the Eagle isnt very good, neither are the Enchiladas!(the food is much better in the real Diner on the Sunset!!) Id say have the Steak and the SeaFoiod for Dinner, the Sandwich of the Day for Lunch and Breakfast is always pretty good, especially the Omeletes!Try to get early as possible Meal Reservations when the LSA comes around since this trainb tends to run out of the good stuff on the second day of the trip! Hopefully you wont get Miss Polly with an attitude for your Waiter on this run to SAS!

Be sure and get off and walk around/stretch @ the long stops (STL/Little Rock/Longview/DAL/FTW/TPL/AUS) but stay Train side if the Conductor or SCA tells you too! Also take the snacksa and drink yall will want, they are Pricey in the Cafe Car and the Selection isnt the Best! If not already a member be sure and join AGR (do you need a referral, PM if so with your e-mail) and keep on checking Amsnag and Amtrak.com for lower Roomette/fare prices if you paid more than Low Bucket!

If you have more questions, this is an excellent place to get cheerful and willing help, sometimes we even are correct! :lol: :lol: :lol:
 
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The Chief

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Feb 23, 2003
Messages
330
Location
Fort Worth Texas Wherethe WestBegins
AdventureGal,

Many times I have seen backpacks stored on the luggage racks on the lower level of your Superliner Sleeper.

As Jim and Davey noted, meals are included. Also, most sleepers offer first class passengers bottled water and coffee and juice. Snacks and sodas and beers are available in the Sightseer Lounge, downstairs.

You will have blankets in your roomette.

Cameras are nice to have as photo ops are unique. Here's a Texas Eagle website. Many travelers from here pack a small roll of duct (gaffer's) tape, and a flashlight. When you arrive at Chicago Union Station you may enter the first class Metropolitan Lounge to wait for — and board — the Eagle.

Surf and search this site and other sites a bit and you should find many more tips, and photos. Enjoy your trip and hope this helps.
 

Golden grrl

Service Attendant
Joined
Apr 14, 2011
Messages
169
Location
Arlington
Many travelers from here pack a small roll of duct (gaffer's) tape, and a flashlight.
The Chief is right about that flashlight-I got a little LED keychain light at a dollar store and use it

1) when in the upper bunk [no windows there, so it gets really dark], and

2) to check under the seats for anything that has rolled/been pushed there during the trip.

There are nightlights in the roomettes, but those roomettes are small enough that the lights inevitably disturb the other person in the room.

Re: backpacks.

I have traveled thousands of miles this past year with only a largish soft backpack, a size that easily fits in the overhead compartment on an airplane. The pack has several pockets and compartments, enough to carry a laptop, chargers, shoes, winter wear. When it is not full, it fits under the roomette seat. I do have to take out some items to squash it down enough to slide it under the seat. Depending on what exact sleeping car you have, you may have a small, tall closet, one barely wide enough to hang two coats. It will have some room on the floor to stash some items from the pack. Or, you may have no closet, and instead a larger arm rest along a wall that has a place where you can hang your coats on hangars (which are provided). There is a belt attachment to hold a taller pack or piece of luggage upright below the coats. I have had both types of roomettes on the Eagle, but had the no-closet variety earlier this month.

Here is the secret, though, for using the backpack. Store everything in large plastic zipper bags. For example, your toothbrush, toothpaste, comb, lotion, etc, whatever you'll take to the restroom in the morning, that's all in one bag. Computer- and phone- cases and chargers in another. And specifically, a full change of clothing goes into a single bag. So your nightwear is in a bag. In another bag is the next day's entire outfit, including socks and underwear.

I get gallon or 1.25 gallon zip-lock bags at the grocer or dollar store, and have new, clean bags for each trip. I assemble the contents of each bag and fold the clothing sufficiently to slide the pieces into the bag. Then I sit on the bag to press out any extra air; this also flattens the clothing without causing bad wrinkles. Finally, I zip the plastic bag shut while it is completely compressed. The package looks almost as if it's been freeze-dried.

For things I can't sit on, I suck out the extra air with a plastic straw while I'm zipping the bag shut. Doing this really minimizes the space needed for everything that goes into the backpack, and helps organize the backpack. Once I am in the roomette, I can take out the plastic bags with my nightwear and the next day's outfit, snuggy them into one of the nooks and crannies in the roomette, put my toiletries on the armrest or tray table, and squash my now thinner backpack under the seat. The plastic baggie keeps the next change of clothing together in one place [an important consideration in the confines of a roomette] and clean, in case I spill my coffee or juice.

Re: that roomette closet that I mentioned might, or might not, be there. Others talk about using duct-tape to deal with temperature control and vents. In my experience with those closets, they tend to rattle in the night, and a little of the tape [or a flip-flop, pushed under the door] can make for a better night of sleep. Those flip-flops, by the way, are mighty handy for use when you go to the shower on the lower level of the cars.

Enjoy your trip - it will be great.
 

Golden grrl

Service Attendant
Joined
Apr 14, 2011
Messages
169
Location
Arlington
I should have added above. I'm cold natured, and the blanket on the bunk usually isn't quite enough for me. I always ask the car attendant to bring me an extra blanket and pillow [which I store upstairs in the upper bunk during the daytime]. The extra blanket is also handy for a quick nap.
 

lthanlon

OBS Chief
Joined
Jan 13, 2010
Messages
653
Location
Chicago, USA
You should also at least step off the train in San Antonio. We arrived around 10 p.m. and several folks in my sleeper walked over to a nearby Denny's and enjoyed a late-night snack. I also walked over the Alamo grounds. Even though the facility wasn't open, the Alamo was impressive illuminated in the night.

I got back before they started switching the cars around and turned in. A few hours later, the cars were moved around to be hooked onto the Sunset Limited.

The walk over to the Denny's or Riverwalk and the Alamo seemed pretty safe to me, but I'd still recommend going in a group.

There also are a couple of nightspots within a block or two of the station that looked fairly lively to me, but I didn't check them out, since I was already on my way back from the Alamo and was trying to make good time. I'm glad I visited the Alamo. I've seen the shrine during the day, but at night it's a moving experience.

 

VentureForth

Conductor
Joined
Jan 23, 2007
Messages
5,864
Location
West Melbourne, FL
But be aware that if you get off the train in San Antonio, you may risk not being able to get back on until close to departure time. However, the sight seeing can be well worth it, and kind of exciting when all the other tourists are in bed.
 

lthanlon

OBS Chief
Joined
Jan 13, 2010
Messages
653
Location
Chicago, USA
But be aware that if you get off the train in San Antonio, you may risk not being able to get back on until close to departure time. However, the sight seeing can be well worth it, and kind of exciting when all the other tourists are in bed.
I kept that in mind and returned by 11:45 p.m. My sleeper car was still there with our attendant, Jose, keeping a watchful eye on things. I did hurry back because I didn't want to risk having to wait outside, as you mentioned.
 
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