Is Solo a Good way to Travel Amtrak?

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dlagrua

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For the past 18 years myself and my wife have mainly taken train vacations together. Next year she has chosen to vacation with her sister and that means I will take a solo vacation. While over the years we have met many solo Amtrak travelers and they seem to be perfectly happy. it would be a new experience for me. Is it fun, and enjoyable, to travel solo? Does it ever give a feeling of isolation or is it always fun. Just looking for opinions before I take the plunge.
 

cirdan

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I have done both solo travelling and travelled with friends or with my wife.

All these formats have pros and cons. Being solo definitely makes it easier to pick up casual conversations with random people, and it is truly surprising how many top quality conversations I ended up having with really interesting people. I'm not really good at small talk or conversation stuff normally so this was quite an eye opener. At other times I just preferred to stay by myself and sit back and watch both the landscape slip by and/or people watch other people on the train, or just dig into a book or magazine. I don't think I ever felt bored or lonely on an Amtrak train. I typically pack a novel or two plus a magazine or two and a phone with some games, just in case I get bored, but by the end of the trip I will hardly have read more than a few pages and maybe taken the phone out only once.
 

Qapla

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Personally, I prefer to use an insulated cup like this
1630509945959.png
rather than a non-insulated Solo cup
1630510059092.png




1630510176178.png


My bad ... you were not talking about a solo "cup" - you were asking about traveling by yourself

1630510251417.png

If I were wanting to take an actual "train vacation" by myself - I would probably buy a "Rail Pass" and just make it a long trip stopping where I wanted to spend a night or two and ride a number of different trains that would bring me back to where I started from.

I would have no problem taking a trip by myself ... although I have been having to wait for 2-3 years to take a train trip with my wife due to hurricanes and C-19 - we have had to cancel twice after already buying tickets and now the plans are in a "holding pattern" until we feel safe to travel.
 

Tlcooper93

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For the past 18 years myself and my wife have mainly taken train vacations together. Next year she has chosen to vacation with her sister and that means I will take a solo vacation. While over the years we have met many solo Amtrak travelers and they seem to be perfectly happy. it would be a new experience for me. Is it fun, and enjoyable, to travel solo? Does it ever give a feeling of isolation or is it always fun. Just looking for opinions before I take the plunge.
I love traveling by train solo.
I think it can be really enjoyable, and roomette prices are much cheaper in single occupancy.
 

bratkinson

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Other than as a lad accompanying my father on some of his business trips in the 1950s, I've always traveled solo. The one exception being when I all but broke my wifes' arm the day after our wedding to abandon the EWR-WAS connecting plane that was late for a metroliner in 1988. We divorced 5 years later.

In the late 70s-early 80s I traveled on business a couple times per month and proved to my boss that the train with bedroom cost less than airfare (pre-airline deregulation). So I always saw the customers on Friday and took Amtrak home. After my divorce, I spent a year back and forth to WAS every other week for 9 months...Amtrak both ways as I was working on my own.

My vacation joy-rides - usually 10-14 days since 1979 have been solo as well as a good number of 1-4 day joy rides every year since I retired in 2015.

Part of the reason I like to ride alone is I was always 'in my own little world' as a computer consultant/programmer and always did my best and by far most interesting/challenging/fun work while not part of a 'team'. I suspect my tendencies for solitude were partly responsible to my 2 divorces.

From what I've read, there's more than a few couples that prefer to take separate vacations. Everybody needs to 'escape' sometimes. For me, a roomette for as many days as possible is my 'escape' time from solo retirement.

I'd expect one of two things to happen with your separate vacations. Either you'll both find you like it, or, one or both will hate it. If you both like it, then keep doing it. If either or both don't like it, then shut up and vacation together! Staying married these days gets harder by the day and quality time together can be one of the best marriage saving/'refresh' possible. PS...turn off the cellphones for at least 16 hours per day!
 
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I prefer traveling solo on trains. I can engage with others when I want or be alone with my thoughts and appreciate the passing scene. Sometimes when I have a particularly complicated project, I will download all the materials to my laptop, book a roommette on a long distance train and work uninterrupted.
 

Maglev

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While it's a real treat for me to travel with my wife, she is not as fanatical about trains as I am and is not often especially interested in going where I travel on trains (eg, to Minnesota in winter to visit my brother). Hence, I often go solo. I am an introvert, and enjoy being alone in my room looking out at the scenery. But I also enjoyed community seating in the diner, and like going to the Sightseer Lounge Car.

For my next trip, my wife was not coming along so I booked the Family Bedroom. I traveled previously in a Family Bedroom with my wife, and she did not like sharing a bathroom. Then recently I invited my sister to join me on the train trip (I'll feel more comfortable not having an en-suite toilet as in a Bedroom).
 

caravanman

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If you are used to travel with your wife, you may find the first one or two solo trips a bit strange.
There are pro's and con's to solo travel. One can of course please oneself when solo, choose dinner slots or afternoon snoozes to suit. I believe that as a solo traveller, one is perhaps more "approachable" by fellow passengers for a chat, couples sometimes present as a self contained unit? The con's are that sometimes a bit of familiar company is very welcome. Coach seat travel is also easier with a companion, rather than being seated next to a stranger.
I enjoy my solo trips for the ability to just please myself entirely!
 

tim49424

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I prefer not to ride solo, but the alternative is not to travel period. My mom used to take some rail trips with me, but she passed in 2018. My sister, who has travelled with me on Amtrak, five times (four long distance, but not since 2019) is married and not retired as of yet as are a great majority of my friends so that's why I travel alone. I'm fine with it, however. I think if I'd travelled with others, I'd not have met as many interesting people and gotten to know the many Amtrak staff on board the many trains I've travelled. I just got back from my first trip since early 2020 and saw many familiar faces during the trip. It was fun getting caught up with them and spending time with them.

The biggest drawback to travelling solo, in my opinion, is that I don't have anyone to share the mutual memories of the experience. At least I had that with my mom.....and do with my sister on the few trips she's accompanied me on.
 

tim49424

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I believe that as a solo traveller, one is perhaps more "approachable" by fellow passengers for a chat, couples sometimes present as a self contained unit?
That definitely is the case. When I've travelled with my sister, people think we're married (ick lol) and as much as I love my sister as a travel companion, it absolutely hinders impromptu chats with other passengers.
 

Devil's Advocate

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Is it fun, and enjoyable, to travel solo? Does it ever give a feeling of isolation or is it always fun. Just looking for opinions before I take the plunge.
I think solo travel is fine so long as you are self-reliant and able to amuse yourself during the quiet parts. Maybe it feels unusual the first time but my first solo trip was so long ago I can barely remember it anymore. I'm equally happy traveling with or without companions and have done both in roughly equal measure.
 

Sidney

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Most of my Amtrak trips are solo. My wife has been on several with me,but she's still working and I'm retired,so the majority of my trips are solo. i find it very enjoyable whether in Coach or sleeper. I'm in my own little world and you will find many single travelers on Amtrak. Also,having a roomette for one is a lot more comfortable.
 

Saddleshoes

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I much prefer to train travel solo over train travel with my wife. (Please don't tell her I said that!)

My wife requires an extra big bag. I can travel with a small back pack.
My wife insists on a bedroom on overnight train trips. I think a roomette is grand on overnight train trips.
I always end up in the upper bunk when we travel by train together.
She dislikes the observation car. I rather like the observation car.
I enjoy solo travel and am happy in my own thoughts. My wife needs somebody to share the experience with and talk about it as it is happening.

In short...
I like to travel by train without my wife.
 

oregon pioneer

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I agree with all of the above comments, except I have never been relegated to the transition sleeper (with or without Hubby).
  • I love only having to consider my own needs
  • I love always getting the bottom bunk for myself. It's softer, and I get to look out the window. The only trip with Hubby that I've gotten it was when he got tired of me calling the top bunk the "timeout room" and insisted on taking it. He was so stiff by morning he could barely climb down. I am small and nimble, and don't actually mind it, but he can't take my joking to others about it.
  • It's nice to have as much uninterrupted "me time" as I want. Before I retired, I took work projects with me on solo trips (like writing the script for this video of the event I used to manage). Now that I'm retired, there's a knitting bag and a book on my iPad.
I would say the one drawback (for me) is that I can't share the extra part of my meal with my (much larger) spouse. I'm a small person, and the meals are way too much for me. So, when I travel solo, I gain some weight...

But all-in-all, I would say you'll be pleased with the experience. It took me all of ten minutes to get used to it on my first solo trip. If I want to share something with Hubby at home, I call him or email him a photo.

I can say this about the comment that one or both of you might hate it: if you wife is traveling with her sister, it won't be her that hates the separate vacation, LOL. ALL my solo trips are to see my beloved (and only) sister on the opposite end of the country. Sisters are the best (and I love my Hubby, but I spend all the rest of my time with him)!
france15v-9.jpg
Me and my Sis in France (not a new photo).
 

Willbridge

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I have enjoyed solo train travel back to 1964. I enjoyed travel with my wife when I met her and till we were divorced years later. I have enjoyed riding with friends. Each situation brings out different aspects.

The main feature of solo train travel was mentioned above -- you are more likely to get into a conversation with others. When traveling with a spouse or a friend you may learn things from their observations that you miss noticing otherwise.

It's been fun thinking back on past trips to respond to this question. Perhaps the Hitchcock moment for me was riding on the Deutsche Bahn and talking with an elderly German textile manufacturer who recognized the material in the sport coat I was wearing and assuming that I was Polish he commented provocatively on my "German" jacket. When I got him straightened out he apologized. I knew about the move of the border but did not know that the factory that made my jacket had not moved - it just went from being German to being Polish. We ended up in a nice conversation about his daughter's city -- Toronto.
 

ms garrison

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I much prefer to train travel solo over train travel with my wife. (Please don't tell her I said that!)

My wife requires an extra big bag. I can travel with a small back pack.
My wife insists on a bedroom on overnight train trips. I think a roomette is grand on overnight train trips.
I always end up in the upper bunk when we travel by train together.
She dislikes the observation car. I rather like the observation car.
I enjoy solo travel and am happy in my own thoughts. My wife needs somebody to share the experience with and talk about it as it is happening.

In short...
I like to travel by train without my wife.
Your wife must be my husband's clone lol. I have met lots of friendly people on Amtrak solo trips. I'm not a naturally chatty person so I'm glad when an interesting fellow traveler starts a conversation.
 

dlagrua

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Traveling solo would be a new experience for myself but it appears that many are quite content doing it. As a normally chatty, outgoing person that likes most everybody, the experience will probably work out fine. It may feel unusual but one is not limited to enjoying attractions, parks, sightseeing a good meal and all else when traveling alone. In any event, this thread has provided a look at the self reliant nature of some of you,. The fact that traveling solo can be a fun travel experience is reassuring. A sincere thank you to everyone for your thoughts, support and for the encouraging words.
 

tim49424

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It may feel unusual but one is not limited to enjoying attractions, parks, sightseeing a good meal and all else when traveling alone.

A sincere thank you to everyone for your thoughts, support and for the encouraging words.
I don't really have an interest in doing much sightseeing when travelling via train. Most of the sights I see are outside my window in my roomette or the rare occasion I use the SSL. I did do some, however, in Seattle, the usual stuff people see, the Space Needle, Pike Place Market and the gum wall in the fall of 2018.

I'm glad we single travelers could help out. I wish you luck on your upcoming trip (I think we have you convinced you should go with no qualms about being alone). Keep us up to date on where you decide to travel and how things go on your first solo trip, and even the things you miss and/or enjoy about being a solo traveler vs. riding with your wife.
 

pennyk

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Traveling solo would be a new experience for myself but it appears that many are quite content doing it. As a normally chatty, outgoing person that likes most everybody, the experience will probably work out fine. It may feel unusual but one is not limited to enjoying attractions, parks, sightseeing a good meal and all else when traveling alone. In any event, this thread has provided a look at the self reliant nature of some of you,. The fact that traveling solo can be a fun travel experience is reassuring. A sincere thank you to everyone for your thoughts, support and for the encouraging words.
I went to Glacier National Park as a stop on my first cross country trip. I was a solo traveler. I took a red bus tour and was the only single on the tour. As such, I had no one sitting immediately next to me and sat up front with the driver. I started feeling a bit self conscious in the restaurant/dining room at the Lake McDonald Lodge since I was the only single. After a few sips of a local Montana beer, I did not care if anyone was staring at me. I am guessing that several of the women there were jealous that I was traveling alone and they were "stuck" with husbands.

In Alaska, I also did a cruise/tour which was partially by bus and partially by train. As a single, I rarely had a seatmate, which was great. I also could make up my mind at the last minute as to where I wanted to visit and for how long and where I wanted to eat (or drink) without having to consult anyone and having a long discussion about it.

I had planned to do an America By Rail tour in May 2020 as a single. Covid canceled that and ABR is out of business. I probably will not rebook anything similar since I do not think I will comfortable on a tour bus for a very long time.
 
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It's helpful to read all the positive comments about solo travel. Soon I'll be riding the CZ to Reno (on my way to Yosemite). I'll be riding by myself in coach but will have my two sisters and their husbands riding in bedrooms. I don't think I'll be able to visit their rooms and I KNOW I won't be able to dine with them. I guess we'll have to plan on meeting in the observation car from time to time. Luckily I'm a fairly solitary person and look forward to the 44+ scheduled hours.
 

VAtrainfan

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I prefer solo travel, but I've never been married so I can only compare it to trips with parents & siblings. Solo travel is WAY better than that 😎

I took a road trip to a family function about a month ago. 3 days of driving to get there, 4 days with family, 3 days of driving to get home. I enjoyed the 6 days by myself in my Jeep on I-64 & I-70 more than the 4 days with family at our destination.
 

Seaboard92

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I just lost my train riding partner so I'm doing it solo again. But I've done other solo trips even when they were in the picture. I rather enjoy traveling by myself. I'm a people pleaser so I enjoy talking to people and finding out their stories. I always meet really interesting people when I travel. People who knew Arlo Guthrie when he was starting, people who work in the oil fields, Australian doctors. If you have an open mind it can be amazing.
 
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