Entertainment on the train

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Kbyrdleroydogg

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Chicago, IL
Probably been asked before but besides looking out of the window, what other ways do you entertain yourselves on an Amtrak train, whether coach or sleeper? Watch movies on a laptop? Etc.
 

Cal

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I usually watch downloaded shows on my laptop, sometimes read.
 

pennyk

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In preparation for my first "long" trip (3 nights), I packed 5 paperback books, a small dvd player and 3 movies on DVD because I thought I would be bored. (no streaming back then). Well, I spent most of my time looking out the window - even in darkness. I did read one of the books and I forced myself to watch one of the movies. Ever since then, I have used the windows for my entertainment (and I pack much lighter). I do listen to audiobooks (with earphones) while riding since I am able to multitask (look and listen).
 

crescent-zephyr

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Depends on the trip. I like to take photos. Once I took photos of all the water towers I saw between Carbondale and Chicago. Many times I get inspired to write. Sometimes that’s a blog post, sometimes it’s ideas for projects that will probably never happen.

I usually don’t watch movies but sometimes I’ll listen to a podcast.
 

Barb Stout

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I never rely on entertainment that is dependent in any way on the Internet as a lot of the country I go through is not near cell phone towers. In addition to reading physical books and watching the beautiful and/or interesting countryside, I get some exercise by walking up and down and all around on those Superliner cars with their spiral stairs.
 

Qapla

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Gator Country Florida
Look out the window and catch items on my browser when I have Internet - I also bring movies to watch and audio books to listen to

Oh, I forgot - it is also a nice quiet time to take a nap ...
 
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Dakota 400

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I always have something to read with me. But, then, most of whatever I have brought does not get read when I have reached my destination. I enjoy talking with other passengers and, if I have one, a chatty SCA. I enjoy watching the scenery changing and, even after sunset, with the lights in my accommodation off, watching the night scenery pass by.
 

Saddleshoes

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Jun 12, 2015
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Read a Book!
If I have a long distance trip I try to find a book about the area I am passing through or about destination.
That action increases the enjoyment of the book and the trip.
 

Eric in East County

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On our long distance train trips, we bring along a scanner and a GPS device, plus our route guides and route map. We also have a notebook in which we maintain a travel diary listing the interesting radio conversations we monitor, the menu items we order for each of our meals, how well our train is maintaining it schedule, comments regarding the weather and how it is affecting our train’s on-time performance, bits of “route trivia” gleaned from some of the RR books and antique route guides in our collection, descriptions of some of the more unusual things that we see and hear, etc. (This travel diary is later used to write up the trip reports that we later share with family and friends and post on AU.) With all these activities, we’re never bored while on the train.

Eric and Pat
 

Amtrak Apple

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I took a notebook on the last long trip. I wrote, or doodled (and I'm no artist) throughout the trip and it was pretty cool to look back and see what I'd written. Then I came home and accidentally set a wet glass on it, so it's funny that it was fine on the trip, but wet after I got home. Sure glad I wrote in pencil!
 

Rasputin

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It would be nice if there was a movie every night in the dining car for sleeper passengers. Even better would be TVs in every room like cruise ships. It could show progress along with shows and movies.
There used to be movies shown in the sightseer lounge car in the evening. We watched a movie when we were on the westbound Empire Builder departing Whitefish in 2001. However the movies were discontinued a few years later . There was a lot of discussion at the time and many people thought they were a distraction and were glad to see them go.

After that a company started to rent a device which showed movies for use on your Amtrak trip. You could rent the device at the origin of your trip and turn it in at the end, provided I believe that you were leaving from and going to a large Amtrak station. this service went over like a lead balloon and didn't last long at all.
 

PVD

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The VL1 when first introduced had little video screens in each room and you could choose from a small selection of movies. They were played on a VCR in a cabinet in the hall, and auto rewound. Tapes don't last very long in that kind of service, and vcrs hated being run constantly without head cleaning and constantly being jostled. Plus the little LED monitors used to get stolen or vandalized.
 

Rasputin

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On a long Amtrak trip I usually take one or two books but I don't tend to get very far into them. I also enjoy meeting and talking to other passengers.
 

BCL

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I've got a device with 128 GB which is plenty to save videos for offline viewing. However, often they come with something like a 48 hr offline viewing window where the window starts from the last time it's been connected to the service. So if you've got that then definitely check it just before you leave and connect every chance you can with whatever apps you use.

Other than that, I've seen people in the lounge playing board games. A lot of people reading books.
 

Willbridge

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Sometimes I'll bring along a book that I've almost finished and mean to pass it along to a friend or family. I'll bring along newspaper sections that I haven't finished yet. These choices don't return home so that leaves room for purchases.

I used to bring along a timetable, too. Some trips I'd mark up the actual times. From that we learned things such as the fact that Amtrak has at least half an hour of padding in Train 27's schedule from Wishram to Portland.
 

dlagrua

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We are never bored on the train. We usually travel in a sleeper mostly in a bedroom or roomette. We read magazines, books, sightsee (by looking out the window) sometimes listen to movies on the laptop, occasionally make calls, go online, make trips to the sightseer lounge ( and sometimes chat with others) , buy treats in the cafe car, get off at extended stops to stretch our legs, rest, and take time to tidy up. Meals also take up several hours of time per day as well. Even on our three night train trip to Seattle 10 years ago the trip seemed to go very fast.
 

ms garrison

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Oct 26, 2018
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It would be nice if there was a movie every night in the dining car for sleeper passengers. Even better would be TVs in every room like cruise ships. It could show progress along with shows and movies.
Well, I politely beg to differ. I have been on long distance trains that had movies in the observation car and they were extremely loud, and mostly geared towards kids. Made it almost impossible to have a conversation with anyone. And as for TV's in every room like cruise ships, why would you want to spend big bucks to do what you can do at home for free?
 

Rasputin

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I used to bring along a timetable, too. Some trips I'd mark up the actual times. From that we learned things such as the fact that Amtrak has at least half an hour of padding in Train 27's schedule from Wishram to Portland.
When I am planning a long distance trip on Amtrak, I will try to photocopy some pages from a pre-Amtrak timetable from the 1940s or 1950s and bring it along. For a trip on the Southwest Chief, I will bring along some photocopies of certain pages from a Santa Fe timetable from the 1950s. It provides information on many intermediate points and also contains an elevation chart. These older public timetables can also have information on river crossings and other sites. If I have access to an older employee timetable of the route I will photocopy parts of that and bring it along also.
 

jebr

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I usually bring along my tablet with some downloaded videos from YouTube and a couple other sources to watch - especially in coach, once it's dark out there's not a whole lot to see, and I like being able to watch some videos even during the daytime as well.

One thing that I wish Amtrak would make more of a priority is both wi-fi on all trains (the western LD trains still don't have it, and even with some gaps in coverage there's plenty of places where wi-fi would be useful) and some sort of onboard streaming entertainment, even if it's bring-your-own-device like what some airlines do. The movies and TV shows could be stored on hard drives on the train itself to alleviate any issues with bandwidth usage to the outside world and allow for use in areas without cellular or satellite signal - I believe the airlines do something similar for their on board entertainment so it works even outside of their general connectivity area.
 
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