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

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ChrisRice

Train Attendant
Joined
Sep 7, 2013
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25
Two Weeks. Four years ago when our daughter got out of high school we took a two week trip. NBN-CHI-SEA-LAX-FLG-SFW-CHI-NBN. We stayed 3 days each in SEA and SFW. We had a layover in LAX for 23 hours and about 19 hours in FLG. We rented a car in FLG and took in the Grand Cannon. Great Trip. Since there were three of us we had a roomette or bedroom the entire trip. Actually between SEA and LAX we had a suite (two bedrooms opened up to each other). All paid for with points. I had been saving points for three years. You can't do that with today's point system
(or at least it would take many more points), but there were different rules then.
 
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Apr 24, 2019
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In 1985 when it looked like the Reagan Administration might succeed in getting rid of Amtrak, I took a long (potentially) "last ride." 15729 miles and 16 CONSECUTIVE nights on the train:
1. Empire Builder Cut Bank to Seattle
2. Coast Starlight Seattle to Sacramento
3. California Zephyr Sacramento to Chicago
4. City of New Orleans Chicago to New Orleans
5. Sunset Limited New Orleans to Los Angeles
6. San Diegan Los Angeles to San Diego
7. San Diegan San Diego to Los Angeles
8. Southwest Limited Los Angeles to Chicago
9. Lake Shore Limited Chicago to Boston
10. Night Owl Boston to Baltimore
11. Cardinal Baltimore to Dyer, IN
12. Broadway Limited Hammond/Whiting to New York
13. Silver Meteor New York to Tampa
14. Silver Star Tampa to Washington, DC
15. Capitol Limited Washington, DC to Chicago

Connections and on-time performance was much better then!
 

JP1822

Train Attendant
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Mar 8, 2019
Messages
47
This 1985 trip you took is definitely worth a trip report and recount of your experience back then!

There's a few discontinued trains on Amtrak's list that I wish people would give their experiences on, particularly the Desert Wind, Pioneer, Montrealer, Gulf Wind/Breeze, etc.
 

PaTrainFan

Service Attendant
Joined
May 1, 2017
Messages
147
I rode the Desert Wind the entire length from Chicago to Los Angeles. So long ago now I couldn't even begin to recall details. However it was my one and only time in Las Vegas, brief as it was. I do minimally remember the routing through Wyoming which was exceedingly dull. So glad that DRG&W gave up the ghost and allowed Amtrak to route over it, though I wish I could have ridden the Rio Grande Zephyr one time.
 

Dakota 400

Conductor
Joined
Mar 5, 2014
Messages
1,685
I rode the Desert Wind the entire length from Chicago to Los Angeles
The Desert Wind trip for me from Los Angeles to Chicago was a memorable one. Maybe a #2 favorite. The route through the mountains between East of Los Angeles provided great views from the train fan window at the end of my Sleeper.
 

jiml

OBS Chief
Joined
Feb 27, 2019
Messages
887
The Desert Wind was a personal favorite. I still have my Desert Wind baseball cap and souvenir t-shirt purchased on-board. Other than the sheer length of the consist leaving Chicago, highlights included the Utah split of the train into three, waking up the next morning "going the other way" and the unique breakfast served in the ex-Santa Fe high-level diner, which was unlike any other food service on Amtrak at the time... scrambled egg hash and warm blueberry muffins. Yum.
 

ScouseAndy

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Mar 23, 2016
Messages
346
It was 10 years ago next month when I set off from Manchester UK to Beijing.

After stopping off to see 2 walls, 2 public squares and 2 dead bodies and 25 days I arrived back in Manchester

The only train that was late in all that time? Yes you've guessed it, it was the train back from the airport to home
 

brianpmcdonnell17

Conductor
Joined
Mar 5, 2016
Messages
1,290
Mine was last December with a 15 day rail pass:
Southwest Chief Chicago-Los Angeles
Coast Starlight Los Angeles-Portland
Empire Builder Portland-Chicago
California Zephyr Chicago-Richmond
California Zephyr Richmond-Chicago
Lake Shore Limited Chicago-Boston
Northeast Regional Boston-Washington
Capitol Limited Washington-Chicago
 
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Matthew H Fish

Train Attendant
Joined
May 28, 2019
Messages
77
Mine was on a 30 day railpass in 2014. It was what inspired me to write my railpass thread.

I went from Spokane-> Chicago (Empire Builder)
Chicago -> New York (Lake Shoe Express) (Stayed with a friend four days in NYC)
New York -> Boston (NEC)
Boston -> Portland, Maine (on a bus) (stayed with a friend a few days there)
Portland, Maine -> Boston (back on the bus)
Boston -> Washington, DC (NEC overnight)
Washington, DC -> New Orleans (Crescent) (stayed in a hotel for a night, my only hotel stay)
New Orleans -> Chicago (City of New Orleans)
Chicago -> Dallas (Texas Eagle)
Dallas -> Denton, Texas (Commuter rail), stayed with a friend for the weekend
Denton -> Dallas (Commuter rail)
Dallas -> Springfield, Illinois (Texas Eagle)
Springfield -> Galesburg (literally in a van, which, as I mentioned on my railpass thread, counted equally as a railpass segment)
Galesburg -> Emeryville, California (California Zephyr)
Emeryville -> Portland, Oregon (Coast Starlight) (stayed with a friend for a few days)
Portland, Oregon -> Whitefish, Montana (Empire Builder)
Whitefish -> Missoula, Salish Tribal Shuttle bus
Missoula, Hamilton -> Vanpool

I think I saw an incredibly great cross-section of the country in this time. Some of the places I stayed were because I knew people there (Portland, Maine and Denton, Texas are not exactly the must-sees of US tourism), but I feel that I had just as good of an experience there as I would have had in more "name" locations. When travelling by train like this, sometimes it is the smaller things that feel more important...I didn't see the Grand Canyon on this trip, but I had an egg salad sandwich in a diner in Galesburg! The American experience doesn't need to be "The American experience"

I saw 38 states in that 30 days (I believe), and it makes me wonder why people act live travelling and seeing the country is so difficult. Okay, not everyone can spend 30 days on a train, with half of those spent sleeping in train seats, so something this extensive isn't for everyone, but... the whole trip cost me a little over a 1000 dollars, counting all my expenses. Seeing the entire United States and having an opportunity to learn so much, really only cost as much as a piece of high-end consumer electronics or a month or so of car ownership. It was a once-in-a-life time experience, for a price that was not terribly high.

I want to do the same thing again...I made a spreadsheet to see 49 states using a 45 day Amtrak pass. I might actually get around to doing it, some day.
 
Joined
Mar 22, 2019
Messages
8
19 hours by steam locomotive across China. No it was not romantic! Hotter'n hell. In fact, I think we passed by hell on this trip.
Nasty, dirty, and primitive at every turn.
Timewise, not the longest, but it sure felt like it would never end.
 

Ziv

OBS Chief
Joined
Oct 25, 2011
Messages
588
Main Square in Krakow and Tienanmen Square in Beijing? Berlin Wall and Great Wall?
Sounds like a great trip!
It was 10 years ago next month when I set off from Manchester UK to Beijing.

After stopping off to see 2 walls, 2 public squares and 2 dead bodies and 25 days I arrived back in Manchester

The only train that was late in all that time? Yes you've guessed it, it was the train back from the airport to home
 
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Devil's Advocate

Conductor
Joined
May 24, 2010
Messages
11,234
A lot of you guys need to write trip reports because these trips are amazing.
Some of these lists remind me of passenger rail specials on public television that I used to watch as a curious little boy. I probably would have loved to undertake such an adventure back then, but as an adult most of these trips would drive me nuts with excessive repetition and cabin fever.
 
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v v

Conductor
AU Supporter
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Dec 4, 2012
Messages
1,258
The longest continuous train journey we have travelled is London St Pancras to Vladivostok via Kiev. No other form of transport was used outside train from end to end although we did take a 5 day break in Moscow and recommenced at the same station we arrived at.
 
Joined
Nov 23, 2018
Messages
4
In 1992 from Portland, OR to Chicago, Il on the Empire Builder in a bedroom
2 nights in the Fairmont Hotel in Chicago
Chicago to Washington DC, on the Capitol Limited in roomettes
Washinton DC to Ft. Lauderdale, FL in roomettes
Ft. Lauderdale to Los Angeles via Panama Canal on the QE2
Los Angeles to Portland, OR on the Coast Starlight in bedroom
 

junebug

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Jun 14, 2011
Messages
296
You know reading this thread I feel I need to say this. A lot of you guys need to write trip reports because these trips are amazing.
I agree, these trips sound amazing! The longest I did was a 10 day pass. Chicago to Grand Canyon on the Southwest Chief, to L.A. on the Chief, Coast Starlight from L.A. to San Jose to Lake Tahoe and back by car, Capitol Limited from San Jose to Sacramento, Coast Starlight to Seattle, Empire Builder to Glacier National Park, Empire Builder back to Chicago.
 

Siegmund

Service Attendant
Joined
Nov 19, 2018
Messages
137
I had two two-week-long trips, both in the 80s with the region-based passes.

The first was a one-region pass, with stops for Disneyland, Expo 86, and Glacier:

Drove from Idaho to Salt Lake
CZ to Sacramento, overnight in motel, Coast Starlight to LAX, San Diegan to Anaheim (and almost farther - nobody opened the door to our coach to let us off, the train started southward again, my dad pulled the emergency brake rather than get stuck on the train until the next stop);
San Diegan and Coast Starlight to Seattle, rental car to Vancouver (the week of the steam train show at Expo 86);
Builder Seattle to Essex;
Builder to Portland and same-day connection to Pioneer to Pocatello.

Second trip the three stops were to visit family in Chicago and Lynchburg, VA, along with Glacier again:
Pioneer Pocatello to Chicago; Cardinal to Charlottesville; Crescent to NY, taxi to Grand Central, Lake Shore Limited to Chicago, Builder to Essex;
Builder to Portland and Pioneer to Pocatello.

The longest continuous stretch was 3 days and 2 nights, Lynchburg to Essex.

No stories to tell about the Desert Wind -- we avoided it, in favor of the CZ and Starlight, for better scenery -- though in later years I did get to enjoy the Hi-Level diner on the CZ (for a while, the Los Angeles dining car continued all the way to Chicago instead of being dropped in Salt Lake.)

The Pioneer was always a fun laid-back ride. My presence was tolerated in the sleeping car for hours on end while I looked out the back window. Bingo in the diner with lots of fun prizes. I treasured my deck of Amtrak playing cards, won somewhere between Baker and Ontario, Oregon, for years afterward, and kept them after they were too worn out to play with anymore.
 

jiml

OBS Chief
Joined
Feb 27, 2019
Messages
887
No stories to tell about the Desert Wind -- we avoided it, in favor of the CZ and Starlight, for better scenery -- though in later years I did get to enjoy the Hi-Level diner on the CZ (for a while, the Los Angeles dining car continued all the way to Chicago instead of being dropped in Salt Lake.)
I noticed the high-level diner would sometimes head east and always looked forward to getting one on any section of the CZ. The menu was different - probably owing to the unique "open kitchen" design and its limitations, and the food was really good.
 

Barb Stout

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Mar 13, 2019
Messages
345
Mine was on a 30 day railpass in 2014. It was what inspired me to write my railpass thread.

I went from Spokane-> Chicago (Empire Builder)
Chicago -> New York (Lake Shoe Express) (Stayed with a friend four days in NYC)
New York -> Boston (NEC)
Boston -> Portland, Maine (on a bus) (stayed with a friend a few days there)
Portland, Maine -> Boston (back on the bus)
Boston -> Washington, DC (NEC overnight)
Washington, DC -> New Orleans (Crescent) (stayed in a hotel for a night, my only hotel stay)
New Orleans -> Chicago (City of New Orleans)
Chicago -> Dallas (Texas Eagle)
Dallas -> Denton, Texas (Commuter rail), stayed with a friend for the weekend
Denton -> Dallas (Commuter rail)
Dallas -> Springfield, Illinois (Texas Eagle)
Springfield -> Galesburg (literally in a van, which, as I mentioned on my railpass thread, counted equally as a railpass segment)
Galesburg -> Emeryville, California (California Zephyr)
Emeryville -> Portland, Oregon (Coast Starlight) (stayed with a friend for a few days)
Portland, Oregon -> Whitefish, Montana (Empire Builder)
Whitefish -> Missoula, Salish Tribal Shuttle bus
Missoula, Hamilton -> Vanpool

I think I saw an incredibly great cross-section of the country in this time. Some of the places I stayed were because I knew people there (Portland, Maine and Denton, Texas are not exactly the must-sees of US tourism), but I feel that I had just as good of an experience there as I would have had in more "name" locations. When travelling by train like this, sometimes it is the smaller things that feel more important...I didn't see the Grand Canyon on this trip, but I had an egg salad sandwich in a diner in Galesburg! The American experience doesn't need to be "The American experience"

I saw 38 states in that 30 days (I believe), and it makes me wonder why people act live travelling and seeing the country is so difficult. Okay, not everyone can spend 30 days on a train, with half of those spent sleeping in train seats, so something this extensive isn't for everyone, but... the whole trip cost me a little over a 1000 dollars, counting all my expenses. Seeing the entire United States and having an opportunity to learn so much, really only cost as much as a piece of high-end consumer electronics or a month or so of car ownership. It was a once-in-a-life time experience, for a price that was not terribly high.

I want to do the same thing again...I made a spreadsheet to see 49 states using a 45 day Amtrak pass. I might actually get around to doing it, some day.
Would you mind sharing that spreadsheet on this forum? It sounds fantastic! The big map shows more than 1 state that doesn't have any Amtrak lines going through it (SD and AK come to mind immediately), so I'm wondering how.
 

tomfuller

OBS Chief
Joined
Oct 24, 2012
Messages
828
Someone mentioned the North America Railpass (30 days). My very first Amtrak and ViaRail trips were on a North America Railpass in October-November 2001.
The trip started in Washington DC about 6 weeks after 9/11 (to NYP). The first NE Regional of the day left WAS at 3AM. I transferred to the Maple Leaf at NYP and was in Toronto about 8PM. The next morning I boarded the Canadian and went all the way to Winnipeg. I sent a night in Winnipeg and then took the train all the way to Churchill (Hudson Bay). That train spends 12 hours in Churchill before heading back to Winnipeg.
There was a snowstorm in western Ontario which took down signals so the Canadian arrived in Winnipeg 16 hours late. I slept on the floor of the Winnipeg station.
I arrived in Jasper about 3AM and saw the greatest Northern Lights of my life on the taxi ride out to the hostel. I spent 2 nights in Jasper before heading for Vancouver. I took a bus from Vancouver to Seattle.
Coast Starlight from Seattle to Sacramento. San Joaquin from SAC to Bakersfield. I was supposed to connect to the SWC that evening in San Bernardino but the bus blew the rear duals not far out of Bakersfield. They chose to jack up the bus and replace the tires. 2 of us that were to connect to the SWC got another bus to get on in Barstow. My daughter picked me up in Albuquerque. We spent a night in Truth or Consequences before she dropped me off in El Paso to catch the Sunset Limited to San Antonio. I remember a couple of buses to get to New Orleans.
I took the CONO from NOL to CHI and the Pennsylvanian (maybe 3 Rivers?) to Harrisburg PA where my wife picked me up on the 30th day.
There are at least 2 states in the lower 48 that Amtrak does not serve (SD and WY).
 

Matthew H Fish

Train Attendant
Joined
May 28, 2019
Messages
77
Would you mind sharing that spreadsheet on this forum? It sounds fantastic! The big map shows more than 1 state that doesn't have any Amtrak lines going through it (SD and AK come to mind immediately), so I'm wondering how.
I don't know if I can share spreadsheets, but I could repost the route.
For states that did not have Amtrak, I found bus routes. This was actually the hardest part, because you have to double back through South Dakota and Wyoming through a lot of little bus rides.

Also, there are trains to Alaska...they are just really big and float on water. :)
 

B&Ofan

Train Attendant
Joined
Jul 17, 2009
Messages
58
Last year I did an almost 2 month trip on train. With my bicycle no less. Boston to Toledo. Toledo to Chicago Chicago to Reno Reno to Emeryville. Jack London to Portland. Portland to Edmonds. Edmonds to Vancouver Canada. Vancouver back to Edmonds. Sounder transit from Edmonds to Seattle. Seattle to San Diego. San Diago to LA. LA to New Orleans, New Orleans to Chicago. Chicago back to Boston. I spent a couple of days to a week at each stop (except Chicago and LA where I just changed trains and took in a little bit of the cities during the layovers. I was in LA and during the second day of the world series and was wondering why people were cheering when the Dodgers scored, then I remembers where I was. It was a great trip and really nice to have my bicycle in the various cities. It's too bad that it's not possible anymore as they took off the baggage care off the Boston section of the LSL Last time I was on the train they said they were revamping the cafe car to have bike racks. They had converted the one on our train but it appears they are still not selling bicycle space/ yet.

This year I'm doing another trip. BOS to TOL, TOL to EDM (Edmonds) EDM to Vancouver, then the Canadian from Vancouver to Toronto. From there I may go to Montreal then NYC to head back to Boston. Everything to Toronto is locked up. I need to figure out the last part.

Cheers.
 

ScouseAndy

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Mar 23, 2016
Messages
346
The longest continuous train journey we have travelled is London St Pancras to Vladivostok via Kiev. No other form of transport was used outside train from end to end although we did take a 5 day break in Moscow and recommenced at the same station we arrived at.
Er how did you manage that as trains from Keiv arrive at Kiyevsky Station and trains to the east usually depart from Yaroslavskiy Station. Was the trains diverted or did you make a detour from Kiev to Moscow?

Would love to know as this was my stumberling block as even counting the metro its not possible as Yaroslavskiy doesn't (didn't 10 years ago) have a metro station the closest being 200mtrs away down the street.

Moscow and Paris as cities annoy me as it ruins the point to point train routes I travel as it always result in a break in the iron road. Paris whilst most stations have metro many metro lines run on rubber tyres along guided roads so don't count in my book.

Yes I am pedantic
 

v v

Conductor
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Joined
Dec 4, 2012
Messages
1,258
Er how did you manage that as trains from Keiv arrive at Kiyevsky Station and trains to the east usually depart from Yaroslavskiy Station. Was the trains diverted or did you make a detour from Kiev to Moscow?

Would love to know as this was my stumberling block as even counting the metro its not possible as Yaroslavskiy doesn't (didn't 10 years ago) have a metro station the closest being 200mtrs away down the street.

Moscow and Paris as cities annoy me as it ruins the point to point train routes I travel as it always result in a break in the iron road. Paris whilst most stations have metro many metro lines run on rubber tyres along guided roads so don't count in my book.

Yes I am pedantic
Good for you, I like detail too although Rosie balances this.

Train directly from Kiev to Moscow, no detour just the regular night train. Used the Moscow metro to skip round from west to east Moscow, which I counted. You are right, we had to walk up the street from the metro to catch the Trans Siberian but it was a little shorter than you mention, maybe 120m +/-. I could rephrase it by saying that all the transport we used from one vehicle to the next was train like, for example trams and metro trains are train like if not actually trains.

What I intended to write was apart from a few short walks we didn't use any other form of transport apart from train and city metro to get from the center of London to Vladivostok, no taxis and no buses.
We actually started the journey about 45 miles east of London, 3 trains into Liverpool Street then a night bus round to St Pancras. The tube wasn't running as it was about 2am and we had to be at St Pancras for the first Eurostar out to Brussels.

Unlike you I'm not really a train enthusiast or purist as such although do like some of the equipment. To be specific my and Rosie's great love is travelling by train, does that help?

Did you write a blog on your journey through Russia, would very much like to read such a thing if you did. Have you ever been to central Asia or western China? currently very interested in any experiences there.
 

ScouseAndy

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Mar 23, 2016
Messages
346
Good for you, I like detail too although Rosie balances this.

Train directly from Kiev to Moscow, no detour just the regular night train. Used the Moscow metro to skip round from west to east Moscow, which I counted. You are right, we had to walk up the street from the metro to catch the Trans Siberian but it was a little shorter than you mention, maybe 120m +/-. I could rephrase it by saying that all the transport we used from one vehicle to the next was train like, for example trams and metro trains are train like if not actually trains.

What I intended to write was apart from a few short walks we didn't use any other form of transport apart from train and city metro to get from the center of London to Vladivostok, no taxis and no buses.
We actually started the journey about 45 miles east of London, 3 trains into Liverpool Street then a night bus round to St Pancras. The tube wasn't running as it was about 2am and we had to be at St Pancras for the first Eurostar out to Brussels.

Unlike you I'm not really a train enthusiast or purist as such although do like some of the equipment. To be specific my and Rosie's great love is travelling by train, does that help?

Did you write a blog on your journey through Russia, would very much like to read such a thing if you did. Have you ever been to central Asia or western China? currently very interested in any experiences there.
I do have a badly neglected blog and am in the process of writing my 5th entry which is London to Beijing but work takes up so much time currently. I aim to finish the trans Sib post over the next month in time so I can write up my next trip which is Sri Lanka which will take place in September.

https://amazingrailjourneys.wixsite.com/website
 
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