Maria is taking Amtrak to Chicago, arriving Friday morning at Union Station. She just e-mailed me to ask if there’s anything she should know about taking the train that she might have forgotten. I started making a list:
- A towel for washing up — only the showers in the sleeper cars have actual towels. All other bathrooms have only paper towels.
- power strip and/or extension cord — each pair of seats have outlets, but I don’t recall if it was just two outlets for the pair or two outlets for each seat
- drinks/snacks — canned soda is expensive. i don’t remember seeing water fountains so you should be okay refilling water bottle from the bathroom tap. also the snack car (second car from front in direction of travel) keeps weird hours, i think. you’ll make a few stops where you might be able to pop out and get vending machine stuff when the train is in upstate. Don’t remember where – ask the conductor, she’ll know.
- sleep mask/ear plugs — part of the reason why I upgraded to a sleeper in the first place was because of some noisy ass dudes in my car. that and i wanted privacy because i’m like that.Yes, the conductor will kindly tell them to shut up if you ask her to, but just in case folks get noisy when she leaves.
- small bills for buying food or tipping staff — the dining car is actually open to all passengers, but do make reservations (i know!) before showing up for dinner or breakfast. just go to the dining car and ask when you can have dinner. or you can get food to take back to your seat. which should be interesting walk if you’re seated, like, three cars away.
- reading material — there are no books or magazines to buy. even better – download the kindle app to your iphone. buy books from amazon.com in Safari on your iPhone. when you open the kindle app, it’ll download your purchases automatically. which saves you having to sync stuff from your laptop.
- camera — this may be a big duh but keep it ready! lots of gorgeous shots of, like, foliage or whatever, goes by really quickly when you are on the train.
Maria replied that she hadn’t even thought about the towel. I was aghast (joking) — did she learn nothing from “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”?