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Why I Took an Overnight Amtrak Instead of Flying or Driving


Courtesy Amtrak/Marc Glucksman It was hard for me to stay awake as Amtrak’s Empire Builder —a superliner that runs between Chicago and Portland, Oregon —chugged along through the wilderness of northwest Montana. I had planned to watch the full moon rise over a passing still, black lake, but thanks to the gentle rocking of the train, I was lulled into a deep sleep in my Amtrak roomette just after sunset.

Taking a train across the country is a dream trip for many, myself included, though I never expected to check it off my bucket list during a pandemic . Of course, it’s the ever-present threat of COVID-19 that caused me to research safe travel solutions, which led to my embarking upon the two-night, two-train trip from my home in Whitefish, Montana, to see my family in California’s Bay Area.

I chose to take a train over flying or driving because a private room would allow for more security and reduced interaction with other travelers, plus the pleasure of staring out the window at America passing by. But like many Americans looking to explore the country while international travel remains largely impossible, it’s important to understand exactly what the experience includes, […]

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