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I will be moving across the country a bit later this year (coast to coast), and find myself faced with the choice between riding the rails or taking the airplane! At the time of the relocation, I have no hard deadline to be there so the difference in the time it takes to travel is not an issue. I don't have many belongings and no large furniture items that will be transported. If I went with Amtrak I would most likely be riding coach, because of the price.
My thoughts currently are thus:
Train: It seems like it would be very interesting to see the country in this way, and would be an experience you couldn't really get using any other method of travel. Amtrak allows three large checked bags and two carry-ons for no extra fee, which would mean I wouldn't have to pack everything so tightly or be so brutal in what I will have to give away or leave behind. Coach travel is also very inexpensive, less than a plane ticket. You can also move about the train as much as you like along with access to power outlets, which is a nice change from an airplane.
However it is a very long trip, and if I'm traveling coach that means I would not have access to a showering facility and would not have a bed, just the reclining seat. One leg of the trip is 49 hours, the other 16. It is possible that at the main change-over I could find a gym or something and pay for a day pass, thus gaining access to a shower before the last leg of the trip. Food might be a concern, as the train food is probably pretty expensive. The train does allow you to bring your own food if you like, but of course it would all have to be non-perishable.
Plane: The plane would be much faster, obviously. No need to worry about not having access to a shower, as it's not an overnight affair. I would be allowed one carry-on for free, but any other bags I want to bring would be subject to a 25-40 dollar fee. That means I would most likely have to leave behind much more than if I took the train. I wouldn't have to worry about food, again because the trip is shorter. So main advantages: short short short. Main disadvantages: Cost, luggage situation
So how about you, H/A? Has anyone ever done a coast-to-coast trip on the train? Is it an interesting experience? Would you recommend it? Am I crazy for even considering this?