11 tips for traveling on Amtrak trains, comparing classes and sleeping cars

I have spent many hours on Amtrak trains in coach, first class, and even in a private room. I’ve learned a few things along the way.

The author looks out of a train window in a first-class carriage.

The author sits in first class on an Amtrak train.

Joey Hadden/Insider


I don’t know anyone who has taken as many Amtrak train rides as I have. I like to travel on Amtrak along the East Coast, from my home in New York. In fact, I spent 60 hours on Amtrak trains just traveling between Miami and New York City in rooms and dormitories.

I took several train trips as a kid, traveling coach and more recently traveling business class and first class on the Amtrak Acela trains between Baltimore and New York City, which were about two and a half hours each way. .

In my travels, I’ve seen a big difference in the experience you get based on the type of ticket you book.

First, there is the Acela, by Amtrak express train on the east coast that only offers business and first class seats. These accommodations offer larger seats than economy class, and first class comes with perks like in-seat service.

Business class ticket is around $120 and first class ticket is around $270.

For trains that travel at night, there are private rooms. The Amtrak roomette is a private space with a door and blinds to cover the windows. Unlike business and first class, where you sit among other passengers, this ensures privacy. If you need more space, you can opt for a suitable bedroom. It is twice the size of a roomette and includes a full bath.

Then, of course, there is the coach, which many people usually travel when traveling by train.

Insider paid for the rides, based on our reporting standards.

Read more: I have traveled long distances alone by train, plane and ship. Here are 11 of the most important things I learned about traveling alone.

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