To get the best available fares and to secure your preferred travel dates and accommodations, you should try to make your reservations as far in advance of travel as possible. The earlier you book, the more likely you are to get the lowest fare available for any given itinerary. You may book up your travel up to 11 months in advance.
Be Flexible with Your Travel Dates
Trains and accommodations tend to sell out during holidays and peak travel periods. Fares will vary based on the date and time you travel. If you can be flexible, use the Fare Finder tool on this site to try out different dates and/or times and compare fares.
Explore Routes and Schedules
Research the routes of your rail travel carrier, the cities they serve, and the parts of the country they traverse. Sometimes you might find that a stop along the route. Check out Amtrak Schedules: Get more information about the frequency of our trains and scheduled departure and arrival times at our section.
Crooks Travel on Trains Too
Tourists are the ultimate mark for local thieves. After all, they generally carry passports, travelers checks, cash, cameras and a bevy of other desirable merchandise. The best defense against theft is being alert and well informed. Watch the people around you and don't flash big-ticket items in public. In other words, when in Rome , try to look and think like a Roman.
Money belts, and the like, are no guarantee of a theft-free vacation. There are very few items on the market that criminals cannot get into, and the money belt is no exception. If you choose to carry a money-belt, be certain to conceal it under your shirt or coat. There are usually thieves around the heavily trafficked subway and train stations. They tend to travel in groups, swarm around people and pilfer the unsuspecting traveler. If you find yourself standing in a crowd of people that seem to be getting a little too close, rest your hand on top of the belt and hold on tight. If anything is missing after a mass exodus at one of the stations, report it to the conductor or police immediately.
Dont Put All Eggs in One Basket, When It Comes to Traveling
Dogs never hide all their bones in one place and neither should you. Never carry all your important documents and money in one place. Literally, sock some money away -- once you get used to the money in your shoe it won't bother you and it may give you a little peace of mind. Also, unless you prefer waiting in line at the U.S. Consulate or Western Union , never put your passport or your traveler's checks in your suitcase.
You Snooze; You Lose
Naptime is the ultimate opportunity for pilfers to go to work. However, no one is suggesting that you don't sleep while overseas, just catch some Z's in a safe location. If you are traveling with more than one person and are in the coach car, try sleeping in shifts. Sleeper cars are ideal, because they reduce your contact with the unknown. If you travel in first class it will be just you and a friend and the accommodations lock from the inside. In this case, you and your belongings should be all set. If you travel in second class you will end up sharing quarters with 2-4 people, sometimes more. You may or may not know all the people in your sleeper car, so you are advised to sleep with your carry-on and wallet nearby. We recommend you put your wallet in your front pocket, or another out of the way place, and use your carry-on as a pillow. Then you can drift off into dreamland without worry.
While you are sleeping, the train may make several stops or even cross country borders. You may occasionally get a knock on your door. It is likely the border patrol checking passports or the conductor checking tickets. Make certain you have both documents ready at all times.
I Was Just Holding It for a Friend
That excuse didn't work when you told it to your parents and it won't work when you tell it to the border patrol. It seems obvious but worth repeating, don't carry any unknown items for a stranger or acquaintance. Do not purchase and/or carry any illegal narcotics. Moreover, leave your pocketknife at home, or at least secure it in your stowed luggage, not your carry-on.
Behave Yourself When You Travel
Just because you are in a foreign land there is no excuse to behave as if the rails are a rolling frat party. Conductors will not put up with outrageous behavior and will escort unruly passengers off the train at the nearest train station. If your offense is serious enough, they may even confiscate your pass. So keep yourself in check.
You've Got Questions; They've Got Answers
Conductors are very busy people, but they generally will take a moment to answer your questions. The big question you should ask, what time will the train get to your destination. Aside from the obvious, he/she may even have a recommendation on where to stay once you arrive. If the conductor looks a bit harried, try speaking with the dining car staff instead. Try not to pester the staff though, and limit your questions to the vital ones. Otherwise see if you can find answers in a guidebook or from casual chit-chat with the other passengers.