Chicago to Portland, OR Advice

Discussion in 'Guest Forum for Amtrak Questions' started by Annie O, Jun 19, 2019.

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  1. Jun 19, 2019 #1

    Annie O

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    Annie O

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    I've never ridden the train but considering one-way to OR to visit family. As a total newbie, I wonder about speed and comfort and my options for both. Definitions: speed=how many days/hours? Comfort=sleep. Dont want to arrive exhausted.
     
  2. Jun 19, 2019 #2

    pennyk

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    It will be 2 nights (approximately 46 hours) on the train. It will be much more comfortable in a sleeper, but more expensive. Your level of comfort may depend on your age and ability to sleep sitting up, if traveling in coach. I love traveling by train and have traveled across country many times, but, for my comfort, I travel in a sleeper. I do not sleep well in coach. Others will have different opinions.
     
  3. Jun 19, 2019 #3

    dogbert617

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    That trip would be on train 27 west (Empire Builder), and it takes 45 hours and 55 minutes (3 days/2 nights) to do. For that major distance, you likely should do a sleeper. And of course, I would recommend certain things such as to bring an inflatable pillow, if you don't fall asleep easily. I will make one quick edit to bring up something important, assuming you do a sleeper and not coach: the dining car goes on to Seattle(& observation car goes to Portland) after both halves of the train split at Spokane, so your last meal after that stop and before Portland as a sleeping car passenger will be some sort of boxed/bagged meal the crews prepare just before leaving Spokane(when both halves of the EB train, trains 7 and 27, split). Myself I am not sure what that meal is like (hadn't ridden that far west on the EB myself), but I'm sure someone else can answer that question who's ridden the EB in a sleeper to Portland before.

    I'm sure your trip will go great, if you decide to do one soon! Do you have any other questions?
     
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2019
  4. Jun 19, 2019 #4

    AmtrakBlue

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    The coach seats on the long distance trains recline nicely and have a leg rest. I’ve taken coach on one night LD trips but, being a side sleeper, I prefer a roomette for when traveling two or mor nights
     
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  5. Jun 19, 2019 #5

    anumberone

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    In a roomette, you'll probably be looking forward to another trip. In coach you'll be looking for Portland.
     
  6. Jun 19, 2019 #6

    drdumont

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    YMMV, but...
    Take the time it will take on Amtrak. Compare it to the time it would take to drive. Figure in costs of meals, lodging, fuel, out of pocket costs.
    Remember - in the sleepers, each person pays a coach fare. You pay for the room once. Everyone in that room gets meals in the diner. (And not bad meals, either).
    Factor in that if you drive, you gotta drive back. If you ride the train, you arrive fresh and rested. Bathed, even.
    You can compare airfare - travel to/from the airport, whatever meals/snacks. Factor in the aggravation of
    dealing with airports nowadays.
    After 40 years of flying at least one round trip a week, (and I used to LOVE to fly, but not so much now), I look at it this way:
    Continued...
     
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2019
  7. Jun 19, 2019 #7

    drdumont

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    Just do the math... remember, you pay for the room once. each person pays a fairly cheap rail fare. Each person in the room gets meals in the diner on the arm. Figure out what lodging, meals and fuel would cost if you drove. And how much time you would be traveling.
    You may pay a little penalty for the fun/comfort/general great Amtrak experience.
    Upsides in addition to the above...
    You arrive refreshed, even bathed. No security, long lines, morons pawing through your luggage.
    You are relaxed, someone else is driving.
    You can get up, walk around, sit in the snack bar snooze, read, watch the scenery, have a snort (you can take your own jug aboard - just be cool), play on your computer of you must, and just kick back a little.
    Downsides:
    Amtrak Long Distance trains are not always on time. So if you have to be somewhere on a timeline, then fly or drive. And put up with driving, or with TSA and the general Hell which airports are nowadays.
    Driving can be fun. Amtrak is funner.
    I'm still sitting on a couple of million American Airlines miles, am Lifetime Executive Platinum Concierge. they treat me like royalty and I never ride in the back. But I haven't been on a plane in over 2-1/2 years. The only time I will fly nowadays is if I absolutely can't get there any other way, or to get to somewhere to get on an Amtrak.
     
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2019
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  8. Jun 19, 2019 #8

    drdumont

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    Dogbert617:
    Re the Empire Builder split and the Diner situation: Thanks for the heads up. I hadn't noticed that.

    Anyone ridden to Portland after the split? What's the packaged meal like?

    Just wondering...
     
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  9. Jun 19, 2019 #9

    sjgiss

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    Last year Thanksgiving I road out breakfast was a cresuont from the cafe they heated it up was very good.Yogurt and some fresh fruit a banana I think I gave that to a little girl in coast,I don't like bananas. Meal was very good.
     
  10. Jun 19, 2019 #10

    Rasputin

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    When I rode 27 twice a couple of years ago. The breakfast food package was an unheated croissant with ham and cheese, yogurt and some grapes. It was nothing to write home about but was adequate to prevent starvation. Never heard of the croissant being served hot before but apparently some people luck out.

    The two times that I rode, you went to the café car to get your meal. However I understand that on some trips the attendant brings the food package to your room and you eat it there. I don't know what the practice is now, but whatever it is, it is probably not consistent.
     
  11. Jun 19, 2019 #11

    Willbridge

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    There's an important trade-off that hasn't been mentioned here. I can't recall what I bought in the cafe as a coach passenger on the Empire Builder, but I'll remember enjoying coffee in the glass-top observation. (See 2016 photo from Train 28 on the North Bank Line.)

    P1040608.JPG
     
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  12. Jun 19, 2019 #12

    Willbridge

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  13. Jun 20, 2019 #13

    Deni

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    As am earlier poster said, how you handle riding that far on coach depends on you as an individual person. I used to take the EB a lot from the mid-90s to the mid-00s when I lived in Seattle and went back and forth between there and Chicago to visit family. I was young and poor and always went coach. And I loved it.

    In summer 2000 I went all the way to Maine for a summer camp gig so did the EB and LSL all the way from Seattle to Boston - and back at the end of the summer. Three days each way. All in coach. That was the summer I turned 30. Last time I did the full Chicago-Seattle trip was 2003, also in coach, when I was 32.

    Now I'm pushing 49 and doubt I have the endurance to do that anymore. But I'm glad I rode coach back in those days. I got a ton of great stories out of those trips and had so much fun. I don't think they would have been the same had I been in a sleeper. There's something about being with the "masses" in coach rather than in first class with a private room to shut yourself in that makes the experience different. To me at least.

    My 2 cents.
     
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  14. Jun 20, 2019 #14

    Siegmund

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    The comfort level in coach depends a lot how crowded/noisy the coach is, and how well you sleep in a place that's not quite dark. Facemask and earplugs are good idea.

    The seats are make quite comfortable beds with the legrest up. Like napping in your recliner in your living room.

    I've seen very few coach passengers in the dining car, so I'd be quite surprised if they ran out of slots for you. It's true that they won't have time to feed everyone on the train - but they never have; even in the 80s, three seatings in the diner seemed to meet the demand.
     
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  15. Jun 20, 2019 #15

    Rasputin

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    As Willbridge's photos clearly prove, the western portion of the Empire Builder route is very scenic, whether by Seattle or Portland and is highly recommended. Just a great trip.
     
  16. Jun 21, 2019 #16

    Matthew H Fish

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    We should all point something out, that we are used to but might confuse other people:

    When we say "Coach", that is very different from what people who are used to airlines think of when the hear "Coach". Coach on Amtrak is pretty much what first class is like on an airplane. Some people find it uncomfortable to travel on coach on Amtrak, but it is still doable. For me, the big problem is not the comfort of the seat, it is privacy: it can still feel a little weird to sleep next to a stranger.

    As far as comfort goes, it is usually not a problem. You can stretch out a lot, and also get around and walk around. The biggest problem with the long trip is people who are on a deadline, and also people who get bored easily. But "Coach" on Amtrak is pretty comfortable, at least for me.
     
  17. Jun 21, 2019 #17

    caravanman

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    The OP has not mentioned where their train ride would commence...

    Ed.
     
  18. Jun 21, 2019 #18

    AmtrakBlue

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    See the title of the thread. ;)
     
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  19. Jun 21, 2019 #19

    Barb Stout

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    Speaking of the leg rests, I have taken probably 5 segments in coach and EVERY TIME I put the leg rest up, I could not get it back down no matter what way I pushed, pulled, turned the lever or whatever it was, no matter how hard I pushed down on the actual leg rest. Is it just a matter of strength which I don't have a ton of or did I get a defective or troublesome leg rest each time?
     
  20. Jun 21, 2019 #20

    caravanman

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    Gosh, I am definitely getting more senile every day! :)

    Ed.
     
  21. Jun 22, 2019 #21

    dogbert617

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    Don't forget besides earplugs, an inflatable pillow makes it a LOT easier to sleep if you're in coach. Hopefully fingers crossed that you are not unlucky enough, to notice a noisy kid(s) sitting a few rows away. That's happened a few times, and ugh that really sucks whenever it occurs!
     

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