Traveling on Amtrak for the First Time: Your Essential Questions Answered

New to Amtrak? Welcome. Here's everything you need to know about what train travel is like, from how to book, when to arrive at the station, what it’s like onboard, train etiquette and how to get the best deals. 

Amtrak travels to 500 destinations across the country — use our travel planning map to find a station near you.

How to Amtrak

Amtrak 101 Tips

Let’s start with answering some questions for first timers on how to ride Amtrak. We’ll give you train travel tips and things you need to know – basically a little Amtrak guide.

How does traveling on Amtrak differ from other travel options?

What comes with the cost of your ticket? Free WiFi on most trains and spacious, comfortable seats. For us, extra legroom comes standard.

With our baggage policy, one personal item and two carry-on bags also come standard.

Like other travel options, we offer coach, business class on many routes and first class seating on Acela. Unlike other travel options, many routes offer a Quiet Car and first class private rooms.

Here's what Amtrak doesn't have — middle seats, airplane mode and restrictions on when you can move around.

What tips should I know as a first-time Amtrak rider?

In addition to the departure time and train number, pay attention to the route you're riding. Amtrak trains make many stops along the way, so keep an eye on the conductor; they'll tell you when the next stop is coming up.

Amtrak has more than 30 train routes throughout the United States and Canada. Many Amtrak routes offer regional service, but several are long distance routes that travel across the country. Some of our most unique and beautiful routes include Acela, Auto Train, California Zephyr and Empire Builder.

When riding Amtrak, you only need to arrive at the station minutes, not hours, before departure. Here's everything you need to know about our boarding process.

Helpful Info for Long Distance Train Travel

Get more planning tips and additional information about how to ride Amtrak.

Before You Go

Booking & Savings Tips

Here's the scoop on how to get a great deal on Amtrak travel.

To get more from your train travel, like free trips, sign up for Amtrak Guest Rewards.

Planning & Baggage Tips

First time traveling with us?

On the Journey

Booked your train trip? Great — we look forward to seeing you onboard. Before you start your journey, here are a few helpful tips for arriving at our stations and preparing to board.

How you get there is up to you — take public transportation, rideshare or get dropped off. You can even pre-purchase parking at many of our stations if you drive yourself.

Help figure out when to get there by checking your train's status on or the Amtrak app. We recommend you arrive at the station no more than 30 minutes before your train departs, 60 if you're checking a bag or need ticketing/passenger assistance. Many of our stations also offer baggage services and assistance.

Our stations are easy to navigate when it comes time to get on the train. To be extra prepared, here's everything you need to know about how to board an Amtrak train.

Amtrak has upgraded its technology, fleet, stations and processes to make travel as seamless and safe as possible. We have made upgrades to the Amtrak app, where customers can book, get boarding information, and check train status from a mobile device and receive real-time information before boarding. We’ve also focused on making the experience touch free, including contactless boarding, scanning tickets directly from the Amtrak app and the installation of new Amtrak kiosks throughout the country.

We’ve made and continue to make incredible investments so that we can come out of this pandemic as a new and improved Amtrak. By combining our safety efforts with the guidance of our medical director and partnership with George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health, we want our customers to have a renewed sense of confidence.

Learn more about Amtrak’s coronavirus response.

Welcome aboard. Let us tell you a little bit about the Amtrak experience onboard the train.

Acela and Northeast Regional have business class have reserved seating. If you're in a private room your car attendant will help you to your room. Otherwise, take whatever seat you like — as long as you maintain physical distancing.

If you tend to get motion sickness while traveling, check if your journey has seat selection to choose a seat that faces the direction of travel.

Overhead bins and racks at the end of the cars are available to store your luggage. Don’t worry, we won’t run out of space.

Hungry? We have plenty of food options onboard. In a private room, your car attendant can bring your food. You can also make your way to one of our Café or Dining cars. The doors between cars open automatically so you don’t have to touch anything.

Sit back, relax and pass the time how you please onboard. Read a book, watch those movies you downloaded, do some work, listen to music, take a nap or just enjoy the scenery.

Still not sure about the rules of the train?

Be nice to the conductors, they're here to help you, be mindful of those around you and brush up on your Amtrak etiquette.

Amtrak FAQs

Have a questions you don't see answered here? Our frequently asked questions get more in-depth for new and seasoned Amtrak travelers alike.

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