What's the longest vacation you've taken by train?

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Train Attendant
May 21, 2018
I'm curious as to how long your vacations by train usually last, whether the trip includes multiple train routes or just one route. I'm considering a trip next year that would be a total of 14 nights, out of which six would be spent on various Amtrak routes and the remaining eight nights spread over hotels in four different cities. There would also be two lengthy days on the train without overnights. No airplanes involved.

So what's the longest trip you've taken that involved rail? And what's the most consecutive nights you've spent aboard the train? For hubby and I, it's two consecutive nights in a roomette. I'm debating whether it's nuts to plan a two-week trip that's half spent onboard the train. We'd be going coast-to-coast across US and then back home again.


Gathering Team Member
May 6, 2011
WIL-NYP-CHI-LAX-SJC - overnight at my daughter's then 3 days in the bay area with train friends - riding the local trains.
Then EMY-CHI-WAS-WIL It was a total of 12 days.

This year I have a planned trip that will be 13 days.
WIL-WAS-CHI-STL - overnight in STL - STL-DAL - spend 4 days with the train friends riding local trains - DAL-FTW-OKC - overnight - OKC-FTW-CHI-NOL - two nights in NOL - NOL-WIL


May 8, 2011
Wolverine from Kalamazoo to Chicago
Empire Builder from Chicago to Seattle
Two nights in Seattle
Coast Starlight from Seattle to Emeryville (San Francisco)
One night in San Francisco
California Zephyr from Emeryville to Chicago
Wolverine from Chicago to Kalamazoo

I left on a Saturday and returned the following Sunday, so nine days altogether.


50 year Amtrak Rider
Staff member
Gathering Team Member
Jul 5, 2009
Orlando, FL
I live in Florida and I usually travel cross country annually. That is at least 4 consecutive nights on a train each way.
However, I took the long route to the Bay Area Gathering (2014 I think), taking the southern route (TE/SL) from CHI to LAX then the CS to EMY. I believe that was 5 consecutive nights on the train.

The total length of my cross country trips generally range from 10 days to three weeks. Although one of my cross country trips in 2017 involved a side trip (cruises) to Alaska and back. That trip was 29 days.


OBS Chief
Aug 7, 2004
QB 101
About a month ago, I completed my 2nd longest vacation by train, 12 days, 11 nights, as non-stop as possible. SPG-ALB-CHI-PDX-LAX-CHI(#422)-NOL-WAS-SPG with a night in a hotel in Portland and New Orleans. Altogether, it totaled 9429 Amtrak miles with a roomette all but SPG-ALB and WAS-SPG. I'd add another 60 miles or so from riding light rail and streetcars in PDX and NOL during my layovers. Mostly AGR point redemption.

My record trip started on Sep 30, 1979 (I think it was '79), on what was then the 'last trip' on the Cardinal (via C&O of Indiana) before being discontinued then reinstated later on as a 3-days-per-week version by Senator Byrd (Via Monon route from IND, IIRC), and, 11 days later, the 10th trip of the brand new Capitol Ltd. (actually, a section of the Broadway Ltd to/from PGH) MKE-CHI-WAS-MTL-Vancouver BC(CN route)-MTL(CP route)-WAS-CHI-MKE. All nights in a roomette, 13 days, 12 nights. I recall tallying about 13,000 miles.


Train Attendant
Mar 8, 2019
I’ve done a circle trip many times over the years since the 1990s at least:

- Lake Shore Limited/Capitol Limited to Southwest Chief to Coast Starlight to Empire Builder to Capitol Limited/Lake Shore Limited. Stopped along the way and rented a car to get to vacation destinations. Typically took 2 weeks at a time.


Stops could be:

Flagstaff - Sedona or Grand Canyon
LA or San Diego before catching the Starlight north;
San Luis Obispo area on Coast Starlight;
Portland area on Coast Starlight;
Seattle / Vancouver BC
Glacier National Park on Empire Builder;

I’ll typically go from the Northeast all the way to the West Coast (three nights) in one trip. I’ve gone from Northeast to LA to Portland (four nights) straight just because it’s a better routing in my opinion than WESTbound Empire Builder. Plus, take that route home.

Have done something similar but instead of using Southwest Chief to West Coast, taken the CA Zephyr. But if connecting with the Starlight, it would be the same train that connects with he Southwest Chief (SWC is just a faster route!).

I’ve easily done 7 days onboard train and 7 days off, with no more than four straight nights on the train.

After a traumatic 9/11/2001 experience, I ended up not flying for four years; and had clients in LA that I had to get too. Took Lake Shore and SWC monthly, to and from. Eventually built up confidence in airplane travel and would take train one way, then fly back usually. Would leave NYP at 4:35 pm on a Friday, and arrive into LA at 7:30 am on Monday morning, in time (hopefully) for a 9:00 am meeting. Was very lucky in the timekeeping and usually made it, even in the M&E days. But heading back east, I would leave LA at 6 pm on SWC, but the Lake Shore didn’t get me in to NYP till 3:30 pm on Monday. So I lost a day in the return travel. Or I had more trouble with eastbound timekeeping of Southwest Chief and ended up on the Three Rivers. The Three Rivers was my BACKUP train MANY times!!!!

I took a hiatus from travelling on Amtrak between 2007 and 2011 after getting fed up with delays and Amtrak in general. Haven’t also been as active onboard between 2015 and present. Recent “circle trip” I found a lot of service amenities lost, crew in good spirits though, lots of opportunity for Amtrak to improve, and much more. Overnight journeys - always take a bedroom. I don’t think I’ve been able to get a “through bedroom” on the CA Zephyr since the 2000’s. Usually I have to “switch rooms” in Denver or Salt Lake City. And that’s when three sleepers are usually on the CA Zephyr. So I haven’t experienced “light” travel on sleepers. Have always seen them full, and I’ve also seen MOST people travelling near end to end on sleepers. For example, last Coast Starlight trip, 22 passengers who had boarded in LA, went all the way to Portland, and 33 that boarded in LA went all the way to Seattle. Saw the boarding and de-boarding chart........I know there’s data out there that supports the opposite as well, but just saying! Dining experience and lounge car experience, most important. Removal of Pacific Parlor Car - SORELY missed and will stymy the growth of the Coast Starlight sleeper class in general. This train will be hard pressed with four sleeper operating, which it has done in extreme peak seasons - and at least three regular sleepers with the Dorm rooms being sold.

Happy Travels!

Dakota 400

Mar 5, 2014
Flying to New York (with an overnight there), I joined the Crescent to New Orleans. 3 Days in New Orleans were followed by boarding the Sunset Limited to Los Angeles immediately followed by the trip to Chicago on the Southwest Chief. (I found that I ought to have a one day stay in LA between trains.) Upon arrival in Chicago, an overnight near O'Hare and then a flight home.

Probably my longest was a trip on the Cardinal, Cincinnati to Chicago connecting with the California Zephyr to San Francisco after an overnight in Chicago. After 3 days in San Francisco, I boarded the Coast Starlight to Seattle for 3 days there. Then, I boarded Empire Builder for Chicago. One more night in Chicago, then, a return to Cincinnati on the Cardinal.

Given the departure and arrival times of the Cardinal in Cincinnati, my "driver" told me in no uncertain terms: NEVER AGAIN!

It was a great trip; it was during the Winter; I watched the Super Bowl in my San Francisco hotel room; the fresh fallen snow I witnessed when on the Empire Builder was beautiful.


OBS Chief
May 1, 2017
Pittsburgh, Pa.
Couple weeks away from my longest Amtrak trip: More than 7,000 miles: PGH-CHI, CHI-LAX (2 nights), LAX-SAN(RT), LAX-PDX (2 nights), PDX-SEA (RT) PDX-CHI, CHI-PGH. That's technically 13 days if you count the 11:59 pm departure out of Pittsburgh. Previous long was two years ago: PGH-LAX (Via SW Chief) and return via Sunset/Texas Eagle. In 1987, went round trip on The Canadian when it ran to Vancouver from Montreal.Not sure the mileage; it may have exceeded what I'm on the cusp of doing. When I was a kid the family went on about a 6,300 mile odyssey out west which included the original Denver Zephyr and California Zephyr.

Rail Freak

Apr 5, 2008
Tampa Bay, Florida
My very 1st trip was STP-WAS-CHI-SEA(hotel)-SAC-CHI-WAS-STP.
Been hooked ever since!!!
Another trip was NOL-CHI-LAX-OKJ(hotel)-LAX-CHI-CVS-NOL.


Lead Service Attendant
Aug 14, 2016
The “Western Loop” is what I like to call it: took the Blue Water from Kalamazoo to Chicago, then the SWC to LA, Coast Starlight to Seattle, and Empire Builder back to Chicago. Took nine days.

After I graduate college I hope to do the eastern loop (CONO, Crescent, Acela, LSL)
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Dec 31, 2014
South Carolina
Let’s see I have some good ones in the running.

Flew to NYC. Got on a PV went over to Chicago on the LSL. Spent a week in the Chicago Amtrak yard. Went to Metra for the weekend for a steam trip. Left Chicago on Monday on a flight. And two weeks of trains in Europe.

Could also be my first Canadian trip. Started in Denver ride the narrow gauge in the area and the Post Special. Flew to Portland. Took two days of cascades to Vancouver. The Canadian ran 20 hours late and transferred to the maple leaf and silver star.
Jul 25, 2015
Philadelphia Area
I've made three round trips from Pennsylvania to California and back, all three times visiting both the Los Angeles and San Francisco areas. I believe at least once I took the Southwest Chief and Three Rivers back to back, spending three consecutive days on the train although most times I break up the trip. In 2015, I visited four different cities over about four weeks.


OBS Chief
AU Supporter
May 13, 2015
N. Texas
1981 - Coach - One Way


3,176 MILES / 58 STOPS / 3 DAYS AND 3 NIGHTS / No Layover until LAX

Flew DFW-MSP and flew LAX-DFW.


Dec 20, 2010
Holland, MI
Holland, Michigan to Chicago via Pere Marquette, Chicago to Los Angeles via Southwest Chief, round trip to San Diego via Pacific Surfliner, LAX to Chicago via Sunset Limited/Texas Eagle (with a 30 hour delay in San Marcos and six hour bustitution to Ft. Worth) back to Chicago, overnight in Chicago due to missed connection, next day Pere Marquette back to Holland. A scheduled 7 day trip which turned into 9 days back in October, 2015.


Jan 15, 2012
2015: LAX > CHI on 422 the Texas Eagle; same day connection to #30 the Capitol Limited to WAS. Five nights in DC.
#29 the Capitol Limited to CHI; overnight in Chicago
#3 the Southwest Chief to LAX

2017: LAX > SEA on #14 the Coast Starlight; overnight in Seattle
SEA > GPK on #8 the Empire Builder; four nights in the Glacier Park Lodge.
GPK > CHI on #8 the Empire Builder; one night in Chicago.
CHI > EMY on #5 the California Zephyr; one night in Emeryville.
EMY > LAX on #11 the Coast Starlight.


50+ Year Amtrak Rider
AU Supporter
Mar 30, 2019
Most of my train trips have been to get somewhere, with the train ride a way to learn some things along the way. However, I made one circuitous, long trip in 1967.

Most nights in one direction without a layover: 3 Montreal to Edmonton in a CN E-series Bedroom. 3 Moscow to Tomsk in a Coupe (couchette/liegewagen).

Long, circuitous trip: In September, 1967-- all in coach -- Portland to Minneapolis on North Coast Limited, ran over to Milwaukee Road station and watched remnant of Olympian Hiawatha arrive, ran over to Guthrie Theater and took pix for my drama prof, caught Morning Zephyr (fastest train in US) to Chicago. After several days looking at multiple stations, transit and journalism operations, rode Green Diamond to St. Louis (in order to watch inbound IC Electric in the AM peak). Rode little train to top of new Gateway Arch. Looked at bus transit and journalism operations. Stayed one night, rode Abraham Lincoln to Chicago, made side round-trip to Gary on South Shore, caught Pioneer Limited that evening to St. Paul, then Mainstreeter to Hawley, then RDC to Winnipeg. In Winnipeg evening I rode a trolley coach pull-in to the garage and was shown their new radio-equipped dispatch centre, met a bright and charming Canadian co-ed in line waiting to board, then caught the Montreal section of the Super Continental to Edmonton. One night in Edmonton, in which I met my future in-laws, then caught the Toronto section of the Super Continental to Vancouver, BC. There I transferred to the Afternoon International, which connected in Seattle by changing stations to the UP Pool train to Portland.

My only really bad experience was in the UP diner, where they refused to take checks. In the same Pool, the NP did take checks. The best part of the trip was meeting my future wife. The next best part was that there were over 1500 free miles of Optional Routing travel in the way that the Northern Pacific's Portland downtown City Ticket Office wrote the trip for me. It was a Portland - St. Louis ticket at the same price as if I'd taken the UP's shortest route.


Super Buff
Jan 11, 2008
Somewhere between here and there
31 Days. Including hotel stays.

Cardinal from Philly to Chicago
SWC Chicago to the now defunct Williams Junction.
Grand Canyon Railroad Williams to the Canyon and back
SWC Williams Junction to LA
Surf liner LA to San Diego
Surf liner San Diego to Santa Barbara
Starlight Santa Barbara to San Jose
Caltrain San Jose to San Fran
Starlight from Emeryville to Seattle
Cascades Seattle to Vancouver BC
The Rocky Mountaineer from Vancouver BC to Banff, AB
The Canadian from Jasper, AB to Vancouver, BC
The Builder from Seattle to Essex, MT
The Builder again from Essex, MT to Chicago
The Cap Chicago to DC
And an Acela from DC to Philly.

No idea on how many miles it was. But it was to much time alone with my Dad. God rest the mans soul.


Feb 23, 2014
Ithaca, NY
3 weeks. Most Americans simply cannot get that much consecutive vacation time though.

Max consecutive nights on train is 4. Would be OK with more but misconnects mean no.


Sep 3, 2013
A few years ago I took a trip to California with no definite return plans, but several thoughts and options. I was attending a convention in San Diego. So I took the SW Chief to L.A. (Two nights in coach.) I spent a couple of days there before taking the train down to the convention, where I stayed for about six days. Then back to L.A. for a couple more days. Onto San Francisco, via Bakersfield. Spent the weekend. California Zephyr returning (two nights) to Chicago. Total travel time: roughly three weeks (maybe minus a day or two, left on a Friday returned maybe a Wednesday.) Parts or all of nine of those days were spent on the trains. I joke that I was going to California and that I'd stay until I either got bored or ran out of time and money. It turned out to be the latter.

I, subsequently, took a two week trip to the bay and Seattle. That included two day trips at the AU Gathering. So there were parts of ten days of Amtrak riding. (Though one started late, after 10, and was mostly a day in San Francisco.)

I managed to split up a two week trip to Cleveland, Toronto (via a layover in Buffalo), and Montreal in a way that meant my bus and train riding were, mostly, daytime trips save the return to Chicago (with a transfer at Schenectady to an overnight Lake Shore Limited.) So three day trips between cities and one overnight.

Devil's Advocate

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May 24, 2010
3 weeks. Most Americans simply cannot get that much consecutive vacation time though. Max consecutive nights on train is 4. Would be OK with more but misconnects mean no.
I was thinking the same thing. I receive a month of paid vacation but it's rather unusual to take all that time at once. For me the sweet spot is around ten days. If a trip is substantially shorter it doesn't feel like a real vacation but I don't generally need much more than that. By about the two week mark I'm usually ready to head back home again. My maximum continuous travel on Amtrak is about three days. After that I start to get sick of it.


Mar 22, 2004
Nottingham, England.
Holidays and trains, it's going to be a popular thread!

My longest train holiday was 12,500 miles aboard Amtrak in coach, with a 15 day rail pass.

Another time I spent around 10 weeks in America, arriving by Queen Mary, and spending my first night ashore in a budget youth hostel. :D

The 10 weeks were a mix of train travel from New York to Sacramento and Las Vegas, then car hire for a fabulous drive and stay with "Greatcats", and then back on the trains for the San Francisco "Gathering".

Very happy memories, there should be some trip reports on AU, somewhere...

I believe that Americans take the least holidays of any nation in the world?

My life is now one long holiday, but sadly the finances are also on holiday from my wallet since I retired!


Bob Dylan

50+ Year Amtrak Rider
May 31, 2009
Austin Texas
Back in the "Good Ole Days " of the North American Rail Pass which included Amtrak and VIA, which I used several times, my Longest "Traveler type" trip was 30 days of Unlimited Train riding all over North America.

I only spent 7 nights off the Train ( Hotels and free loading off friends was a cheap option) with a 10 nights of upgrades to Roomettes when I could snag a Low Bucket Roomette which was easier then!

The only part of Nofth America I missed was South/SE of Washington DC since I had ridden those routes so many times!

Highlight of the trip was the Ocean from Halifaxto Montreal and the Night Train between Montreal and Toronto with a cross platform transfer to the Canadian @ Union Station for an early morning departure for Vancouver.

"..Those were the days my friend, I thought they'd never end!"..


OBS Chief
Oct 25, 2011
I tried to go around the world by rail, skipping the wet bits, of course, back in 1998. I took the Capital Limited from Washington to Chicago and the Empire Builder to Seattle, spent a couple days with my sister, then flew to Bangkok. Spent some time in the islands then took a bus/ferry from Butterworth to Medan. Crazy demonstrations, "Pro Reformasi!" Hid at Lake Toba for a couple weeks then Pelni to Jakarta. Took the Eksekutif Class car on the train from Jakarta to Surabaya, where I took a minivan to Bali and boats to Lombok, Gili Trawangan and Flores. Flew back to Jakarta, Pelni to Singapore and trains to Butterworth and on to Bangkok. Couple days there and then took a train to the border of Cambodia.
Wandered around a bit, then took the train from Saigon/Ho Chi Minh City to Hanoi, traveling with 15 drunk police officers who couldn't decide if I was with the CIA or a drug runner. Interesting days. Vodka is super popular in Vietnam and comes in really cool 500 ml bottles. I don't recommend hanging out with cops if you have long hair and a passport full of stamps from odd countries.
Took the train from Hanoi to the border, where I changed to another train that took me to Guilin where I took boats on the river around Yangshuo. Guilin to Beijing on the night train, hard sleeper. PA system came on at 7am and we all did Tai Chi and stretching. Bring a plastic tea jar with the mesh thing for holding the tea leaves, there is a samovar on nearly every train car I rode on in China.
Beijing was great, except for the cruddy air. Took the Trans Sib to Lake Baikal, stopped for a day and spent most of my time in a sauna trying to get over a cold. An old woman kept slapping me on the back. Not sure if it was to clear the phlegm or a rough courtship. Considering the amount of vodka that followed, probably the latter. Back on the Trans Sib to Moscow, man, that is a long trip!
Red Arrow to St Pete, then a couple trains through Minsk to get to Warsaw. Can't remember the train from Minsk to Warsaw but I have it on my map. Polenez? The Commuter/IC train to Krakow was old but cool, a young lady shared snap peas out of a canvas bag and we talked about California. Krakow is one of the great cities, just a beautiful place with great people. Took a night train to Prague, another great city with phenomenal people. Went straight to London via a 4 person couchette, pretty nice. St. Pancras station, if memory serves, not so great. London is simply phenomenal, love that city. Then I got a day train to Penzance, couldn't afford the sleeper, but the views were worth it! We went by Dawlish (sp?) at high tide and the waves were breaking and spraying water on the window of the train. That was interesting. Took a bus to Lands End.
A week later I flew back to JFK in NY and took a NE Regional back to DC and had a stromboli at Sbarro. Anticlimactic.
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OBS Chief
May 29, 2012
My 1st trip to Europe (pre-EU) in the mid 80's was with a 15 day Eurrailpass. I attended the wedding of a close friend I had met in the US at work. I flew ORD --> Luxembourg via Reykjavík (Iceland Air). And then the train to where my friend's fiancee lived. I attended the wedding and then initiated the pass in Brussels. Did several day trips while based in Brussles (mostly to France... Normandy to tour the WWII sites, etc.). Later that week I traveled to France and then on the TGV (the original line) from Paris to Marseille (it had extended beyond Lyon). Then a regular train to Cannes for the weekend. Then onto Rome for a night, and then an overnight train to Basel Swizterland, and then to Austria/Germany for much of the remainder of the trip. From Germany I went back to Switzerland (had a relative there) and then from Switzerland back to Luxembourg for the flight home.

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