For the last 7 or 8 years, I have been a loyal and supportive Amtrak passenger. In preparation for my Trans Siberian Railway trip across Russia, I started taking Amtrak trips as a “training” trip. My first was a trip from Seattle to San Francisco, and the second was the “California Zephyr” from Chicago to San Francisco.
Both were pleasant trips, with the Coast Starlight a particularly special trip, for several reasons. One was the beautiful scenery en route, and two was the wine tasting sessions in the club car. I won’t mention the sexy passenger who sneaked into my roomette in the middle of the night! And you will definitely not see a sunset like this on an airplane!
The Zephyr trip was also quite insightful. The amount of interaction among passengers adds to the delight and interest of the trip. While the food is just mediocre, the conversations are memorable and worth repeating (at another time).
So, during the pandemic, and the limitations we all face right now, might I suggest a train trip on Amtrak. Get a roomette if traveling solo, or a sleeper room if traveling accompanied. Meals will be brought to your room. And, you can bring your own adult refreshments on to the train! Much like the Trans Siberian where we shared bad vodka, you can bring your favorites and start a socially distanced party!
A good starter trip would be an overnight from San Francisco to Denver. On the east coast, start in NYC or DC and end up in Chicago or Nawlins. I have done five cross country Amtrak trips, including the Sunset Limited from LA to Nawlins for the Super Bowl.
Currently, Amtrak is allowing a passenger to bring a companion for FREE! The only catch is renting a roomette or bedroom. For example, DC to Chicago is $310 for a roomette, and $454 for a bedroom. Chicago to Nawlins is $312 for a roomette, and $362 for a bedroom.
While you will miss the social interaction with fellow rail enthusiasts at mealtime, you will discover the romance of the rails. Surprisingly, your butler, one per car, will keep you happy and comfortable. I would dare you to get better service on a Biz or First Class airline flight!
Of course, once you get to your intended destination, you will probably want to fly home, after a few days. Or, fly out to your destination, and take the train back home. Then there is my travel hero, Katy, who takes the train everywhere! Even across the ocean.