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

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thully

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Sep 2, 2011
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My longest train trip was back in Dec 2011/Jan 2012, when I took the Wolverine, Southwest Chief, and Surfliner to San Diego, stayed there a few days, then took the Sunset Limited to New Orleans, spent a night there (went to the Michigan-Virginia Tech Sugar Bowl), and returned to ARB via the City of New Orleans and Wolverine. That was a total of 5 train days, and all in coach. Not something I'd do today - even one night in coach is kind of rough...

https://discuss.amtraktrains.com/threads/michigan-to-san-diego-to-new-orleans-and-back-in-coach.45254/#post-339559

The following year, after I moved to San Diego, I did a similarly-long round trip, though in a sleeper on the LD trains - San Diego to LA via Surfliner, LA to Chicago via Texas Eagle through-car (it was less costly than the SWC for 3 nights on the train), and Wolverine to Michigan for Christmas, and Wolverine-Southwest Chief-Surfliner on the return. That was also 5 train days, though perhaps a tad shorter than the prior year's trip.

https://discuss.amtraktrains.com/threads/san-diego-to-michigan-and-back-via-texas-eagle-swc.53336/#post-412136

My longest train trip since was 3 nights (return from the PDX Gathering via CS+CZ) - that vacation was actually longer than the two mentioned above, but I flew one way and spent more time at the various destinations. I'm doing a trip from Ann Arbor to Glenwood Springs in a couple weeks (and maybe another VIA corridor trip from Windsor), though I figure the next time I do multiple consecutive nights on the train will likely be when I get around to taking the Empire Builder and/or Canadian.
 

Devil's Advocate

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I believe that Americans take the least holidays of any nation in the world?
Americans actually enjoy more "holidays" than many other countries, but in American English a holiday is distinct from a vacation. The US has no guarantee for paid time off. Not for vacation, not for holidays, not even for sick time. That puts us below the standard for most industrialized countries. On the plus side many white collar American workers still enjoy a better work-life balance than a typical Japanese citizen.
 
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caravanman

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St. Pancras station, if memory serves, not so great.
Amazing trip you took, worthy of a whole book rather than just a trip report! I enjoyed hearing Butterworth mentioned, also a place that I have passed through.
I am guessing that you might have arrived in London at Waterloo station back then, St Pancras is the new terminal, and is a very lovely old station with the new Eurostar bits grafted on.
 

ehbowen

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"Railfan Madness, Part II"
Fifteen days, September 9th - 24th, 2016. HOS-NOL, 2 night layover, NOL-CHI-PDX, 1 night layover, PDX-VAC, 1 night in Vancouver, bus/ferry to Victoria, 3 nights in Victoria, Clipper ferry to Seattle, 1 night in Seattle (Pioneer Square), then SEA-SAC-GBB-SPI-LVW-HOS. That last stretch, by the way, was four nights and five days on the train. And I was traveling with my parents, both of them. A good time was had by all!
 

Ziv

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Oct 25, 2011
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Amazing trip you took, worthy of a whole book rather than just a trip report! I enjoyed hearing Butterworth mentioned, also a place that I have passed through.
I am guessing that you might have arrived in London at Waterloo station back then, St Pancras is the new terminal, and is a very lovely old station with the new Eurostar bits grafted on.
Waterloo or St. Pancras, not sure which one it was. When I first saw the trains out of Waterloo, I remember laughing that only the UK would use a station with the name of the greatest defeat of France's history, The Battle of Waterloo, as the station for the IC trains to, wait for it... Paris. But I don't think Waterloo was where I ended up when I went from Prague to London in 1998. Not sure why I think that, though, so I am probably wrong. It has been known to happen. ;-)
Victoria was the only station that really left an impression. I loved that place. I think that is the one I used the most for getting to the airport and other short distance trips. I think it was Victoria that had the train to the south that was so old that the passenger coach had 4 or 6 person cubicles that each had a door that opened directly out onto the platform, not back into the car's interior corridor. I loved that train, it was like time traveling back to the 1950's. I think that trip was in 1994, so I don't doubt that those cars had been in service in the late 1940's or early 1950's.
 

JayPea

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In terms of days, there are two trips that tie for the longest amount of time:11 days. One of those, however, included 5 nights not spent on a train, and several days in which train time amounted to just a few hours. This one was in 2014, a trip with my uncle and two of his granddaughters from Champaign IL to Yellowstone and then back to Spokane.

Day 1: Flight to Chicago; Lincoln Service from Summit, IL to Bloomington; overnight at my uncle's near Bloomington.

Days 2 through 5: City of New Orleans to Chicago, Southwest Chief to Los Angeles, and Coast Starlight to Seattle; overnight in Seattle.

Days 6 and 7: Empire Builder to Glacier Park. Then 3 nights in Yellowstone. We went to Glacier Park after 4 days and 3 nights in Yellowstone, where I went home to Spokane, arriving in the wee hours of day 11.

The second trip of 11 days included much more train time: starting and ending in Seattle with 5 trains and 6 segments.

Day one included a flight from Spokane to Seattle and catching the Coast Starlight the same day. Then, in order: Starlight to Sacramento, California Zephyr to Chicago, Cardinal to Charlottesville,Va, Crescent to New Orleans, 2 nights in New Orleans, then the Sunset Limited to Los Angeles, and finally the Starlight again to Seattle, where I overnighted then flew home to Spokane. The Seattle-New Orleans portion represents the longest time spent on a train without overnighting somewhere: 6 days and 5 nights. And the 8396 rail miles for the entire trip is the longest train trip in miles I've taken.
 

Railroad Bill

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Back in 2009 we took a 15 day adventure CL Cleveland to Chicago. TE/SL to LA. Bus to Bakersfield, SJ to Merced.. Yosemite for two days. SJ to Sacramento. Cap Corridor to San Francisco and return. SJ back to LA. Surfliner to San Diego. return to LA. Coast Starlight to Portland, OR. Cascades Portland to Seattle. Empire Builder Seattle to Chicago. Cap Ltd to Cleveland. Had great weather in July and saw a lot of America.
 

Dakota 400

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It's fun reading the different long trips! Thanks to the OP for starting this thread!

The various itineraries have given me some ideas.
 

Montreal Ltd

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My longest trip was March 9 to 31 this year, entirely by train:
Sandusky to Buffalo on Late Sure Ltd, Buffalo to Niagara Falls and Toronto on Maple Leaf, then stayed 3 nights in Toronto. After that I took the Canadian from Toronto to Vancouver which was supposed to be 4 nights but was five nights because of a 17 hour delay. Perfect train to get upgraded to a Cabin for Two. So missed a night in a hotel, left Vancouver later the same day I got there, nice Cascades train to Seattle where I had a night in a nice hotel not far from Pike St market. Then on Empire Builder for 2 nights then spent 10 days in Fargo visiting family. Finally another portion of a night on the Builder, connection in Chicago to Lake Shore Ltd and arrived in Sandusky only 45 minutes late. That was some trip!
 

chakk

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May 26, 2011
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1970 --
Penn Central DC to NYC in coach, connect to
Penn Central roomette onight NYC to Toronto, connect to
CN Supercontinental roomette 3 nights to Vancouver, connect to
GN International Parlor Obs seat to Seattle
one night in Seattle hotel; then
GN pool train coach Seattle to Portland, connect to
UP City of Portland roomette onight to Green River, WY, connect to
UP City of LA roomette onight to LA, connect to
ATSF Super Chief roomette 2 nights to Chicago, connect to
Penn Central Broadway Limited roomette onite to Newark, connect to
Penn Central coach to DC

1 night in hotel, 9 nights in roomettes on trains

similar trip one year earlier with double bedroom on B&O Capitol Limited, single bedroom under dome lounge on NP North Coast Limited, coach on GN pool train, roomette on SP Cascade, roomette on WP/D&RGW/CB&Q California Zephyr, roomette on PC 20th Century Limited remnant, coach on PC

one night in hotel, 7 nights in rooms on trains
 

Woodcut60

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Jan 13, 2015
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2014
[Stockholm, Sweden - New York]
New York - Chicago (Lake Shore Limited)
Chicago - Los Angeles (Southwest Chief)
Los Angeles - San Diego (Pacific Surfliner)
[San Diego - Honolulu - San Diego]
San Diego - Los Angeles (Pacific Surfliner)
Los Angeles - Seattle (Coast Starlight)
[Seattle - Anchorage]
Anchorage - Fairbanks - Anchorage (Denali Star)
[Anchorage - Seattle]
Seattle - Chicago (Empire Builder)
Chicago - New York (Cardinal)
[New York - Stockholm]
 

fredmcain

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Sep 20, 2017
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Well, I’m no record breaker by any means but I had a nice trip back in the summer of ’89. I was going to get married so I figured this might be my chance and perhaps last chance to take a trip like that.

I was living in northern Indiana and in mid-May I boarded the westbound Broadway Limited at Warsaw, IN. The Broadway is no longer running today and Warsaw no longer has passenger train service.

Anyhow, I boarded there and changed trains at Hammond/Whiting for the International to Toronto. After a nice stay in a rather ritzy hotel (which was really a bit beyond my means) I boarded the westbound Canadian for Winnipeg. At that time the Canadian didn’t leave until around 1:00 pm, so I spent much of the forenoon exploring part of the city’s streetcar system.

At Winnipeg I detrained and changed trains to what was called the Super Continental. (The Canadian was sold out west of Winnipeg, so in spite of my best efforts to be “wait listed” it was a no go.) The Super was “super” in name only. The equipment was showing signs of age and it wasn’t nearly as nice as the train I’d just got off of.

Upon arrival at Vancouver I spent another night in a hotel and the next morning I was off on a bus to Seattle. (The Vancouver-Seattle Amtrak train was not running at that time).

At the Seattle King Street Station I boarded the southbound Coast Starlight for Martinez, CA. I then spent about a month visiting my parents in the East Bay Area before boarding the San Joaquin for Bakersfield then the Throughway Bus to L.A. Then it was onto the Sunset/Eagle to return to the upper Midwest.

So, that trip might not be a record breaker but it was still pretty darn nice. It left me with some nice memories.

Regards,
Fred M. Cain,
Topeka, IN
 

Skyline

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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!"..


Those were indeed the days! From 1976 through the mid-'80s I took two vacations per year utilizing the USA Rail Pass. At the time, I think the price was $250 for all-you-can-ride. I devised itineraries that allowed me to be on trains as much as possible. When it was available, I upgraded to sleepers (preferably the Slumbercoaches running on a number of trains. Upgrades were as low as $15!)

I was self-employed, and had to rearrange both my life and business to create two-week windows for my travels, which was sometimes meshed with business. When it was, tax deductible!

By 1990, I had ridden every mile of every route in existence during that period. Sadly, the list of discontinued trains we could ride then -- both in the USA and Canada -- is long.

As there are so many fewer routes today that even connect well, such a "hobby" would be a lot more problematic. As is the opportunity to travel, tho that may soon change as I have retirement on radar.

I was unaware Canadian travel was part of the USA Railpass back then. How did I miss that? Still, I managed to add Canadian travel on my dime to some of those trips.

Routes have come and gone since that era, but I still take self-curated rail vacations when possible.
 

Maglev

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My first (late) wife and I spent five weeks touring England, Scotland, and Wales by train. We bought first-class British Rail passes and only rented a car for one day on the Isle of Skye. Our passes were good for something like thirty out of sixty days, but at the end the conductors stopped marking off days we used the passes. They seemed to want us to keep traveling!

My longest trip on Amtrak without a layover was five nights in coach in 1978 from Boston on the corridor to the Broadway Limited, Lone Star, Sunset Limited, and Coast Starlight to Eugene.
 
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caravanman

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Waterloo or St. Pancras, not sure which one it was. When I first saw the trains out of Waterloo, I remember laughing that only the UK would use a station with the name of the greatest defeat of France's history, The Battle of Waterloo, as the station for the IC trains to, wait for it... Paris. But I don't think Waterloo was where I ended up when I went from Prague to London in 1998. Not sure why I think that, though, so I am probably wrong. It has been known to happen. ;-)
Victoria was the only station that really left an impression. I loved that place. I think that is the one I used the most for getting to the airport and other short distance trips. I think it was Victoria that had the train to the south that was so old that the passenger coach had 4 or 6 person cubicles that each had a door that opened directly out onto the platform, not back into the car's interior corridor. I loved that train, it was like time traveling back to the 1950's. I think that trip was in 1994, so I don't doubt that those cars had been in service in the late 1940's or early 1950's.
I am familiar with the old style UK trains that you describe, we called them "slam door" stock, they usually had a ladies only compartment next to the guards compartment. If the doors of compartments were not fully closed, the outside door handle stood out at the wrong angle. Easy to fall out of a passenger operated door, not so much health and safety in those days...

I don't think one can arrive in the UK direct by train from Prague, so I guess your journey would have been via Paris on Eurostar to Waterloo... No matter, it sounds like a fantastic experience all round!
 

Ziv

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Oct 25, 2011
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I am familiar with the old style UK trains that you describe, we called them "slam door" stock, they usually had a ladies only compartment next to the guards compartment. If the doors of compartments were not fully closed, the outside door handle stood out at the wrong angle. Easy to fall out of a passenger operated door, not so much health and safety in those days...

I don't think one can arrive in the UK direct by train from Prague, so I guess your journey would have been via Paris on Eurostar to Waterloo... No matter, it sounds like a fantastic experience all round!
Here are a few memories of the TransSib. Watching them change the bogies and then trying to figure out which letters made what sounds for Novosibirsk. 98RTWChinaMongoliaBorderBogieChange2.jpg Novosibirsk.jpg
 

dogbert617

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I'm jealous of a lot of these longer train trips(both US and international), I've been reading here! Hope to do more longer train trips someday.

Currently, my record is when with a church workcamp group when we went out to Denver(en route to Pueblo, then later did whitewater rafting in CO then flew back to Chicago), that this trip on the California Zephyr was my longest ever Amtrak trip. That said, this summer I'm hoping to go to Glacier National Park on the Empire Builder, which'll set a new record for most miles ridden on Amtrak for myself, for one trip! I'm still not sure if I should visit both the west and east side of Glacier National Park, or just focus on one side of the park. If I had to do one side only, I almost wonder if I should focus on the east side of the park, per my research? Then on another trip, do the west side of the park?

Getting away from that, I am glad as all heck that the Amtrak funding bill for 2018-19 ordered Amtrak to keep the Southwest Chief on its current route, and not do Anderson's stupid as all heck idea of cutting service into 2 portions, and doing bustitution through the Raton Pass. What the heck Anderson was smoking when he proposed that horrible idea, I'll never know. I still hope someday I get to do my idea of from Chicago taking the Southwest Chief to LA, taking the Coast Starlight north to either Portland or Seattle, then taking the Empire Builder east to Chicago. Maybe also possibly do something else while doing such a trip, such as a brief excursion on the Pacific Surfliner south to San Diego?
 

iplaybass

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My first real vacation as an adult:
STL-CHI on the Ann Rutledge
CHI-SEA on the Pioneer via DEN/SLC
Overnight in SEA
SEA-LAX on the CS.
LAX-PHX on the Sunset.
4 days in PHX with a friend
PHX-STL vi. Sunset/Eagle.

Only Portland-Seattle was duplicated trackage. All done in coach, the USA rail pass was awesome.
 

cocojacoby

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May 13, 2014
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49 day "Grand Circle Tour" of America for my honeymoon in the early 80's.

We had a little pre-departure celebration in the Lake Shore Limited's cafe/lounge car and my wife threw her bouquet off the back of the train as we left South Station.

The engineer invited us up to the cab once we arrived at Framingham and then my wife drove the train to Worcester.

Fantastic start to a fantastic unforgettable journey.
 
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Seaboard92

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49 day "Grand Circle Tour" of America for my honeymoon in the early 80's.

We had a little pre-departure celebration in the Lake Shore Limited's cafe/lounge car and my wife threw her bouquet off the back of the train as we left South Station.

The engineer invited us up to the cab once we arrived at Framinghan and then my wife drove the train to Worcester.

Fantastic start to a fantastic unforgettable journey.

Now that’s one I want to read a trip report of.
 
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My current long trip is:
- Denver to Chicago on the California Zephyr (coach)
- Chicago to Pittsburgh on the Capitol Limited (sleeper)
- Pittsburgh to Philadelphia on the Pennsylvanian (overnight in Philadelphia)
- Philadelphia to D.C. on the Northeast Regional
- D.C to Chicago on the Capitol Limited (coach)
- Chicago to Denver on the California Zephyr (sleeper)

That trip made me realize I'm getting too old to sleep well in coach. I have a trip booked for this fall that's a little longer--5 nights on the train, all in a sleeper:
- Denver to Sacramento on the California Zephyr
- Sacramento to Seattle on the Coast Starlight (overnight in Seattle)
- Seattle to Vancouver BC on the Cascades (overnight in Vancouver)
- Vancouver to Seattle on the Cascades
- Seattle to Milwaukee on the Empire Builder (overnight in Milwaukee)
- Milwaukee to Chicago on the Hiawatha
- Chicago to Denver on the California Zephyr
 

v v

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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.
Love it!
 

Twin Star Rocket

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My longest rail trip lasted 88 days in Western Europe using a Eurail pass, Swiss Rail pass, and Britrail pass. That was in 1981. Not all that time was on a train of course. I did spend a number of nights on overnight trains and ferries.
Before that, I used an Amtrak pass in the fall of 1976 for 15 days of travel. I started in Houston. My only nights not on a train were San Francisco, Portland, New York, and Montreal. Well, I did get a few hours of sleep at the depot in Emporia KS between trains.
A year later (1977) I made a back-and-forth trip across Canada on CN/VIA and CP. There was no pass available then.

P.S. The longest unbroken stretch riding trains was Portland-Seattle-Chicago-New York (Penn Station). That was on my 1976 "See America" trip.
 
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jimontheriver

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21 days. Macomb Il to Chicago to Portland to LA to San Diego to LA to Seattle to Vancouver to Toronto to Cochrane to Moosonee to Toronto to Montreal to Halifax to Montreal to Rensselaer NY to Chicago to Ft Madison, IA. Hotels stays in San Diego, Seattle, Vancouver, Toronto, Cochrane, Moosonee and Halifal
 
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