Do you ever find you get so caught up in the destination that the journey is of little or no consequence?
That’s how I felt while planning this trip. I was so focused on arriving in New Orleans and what I would do while I was there that I had not considered the journey getting there.
After voicing my plans to friends and family, a few of them mentioned alternate forms of transport while in the United States. Now I’m not new to this I’ve done my fair share of 10-hour Greyhound journeys and short flights from city to city. But there is one option I’ve never wholly considered as part of my journey. Trains!
So I started to look into what trains go to New Orleans and where they come from. It seems there is only one straight shot run on the Amtrak service and that is from Chicago to New Orleans. I did toy with the idea of California to New Orleans but for this trip where time is of the essence I decided I didn’t want a 45-hour train journey with multiple connections.
Taking a train from Chicago to New Orleans has now become an integral part of my trip, for something I had never considered I now can see my trip without it and here’s why…
I have never spent any time in Central North America, sure I’ve been to California and up and down the east coast as well as spending a summer in west Virginia. But truth be told I’ve not ventured further inland. This journey will allow me to see the landscape and actually explore new areas. After all I am a tourist right?
Amtrak is really the only choice, and the train from Chicago to New Orleans is an overnight train removing the need for accommodation as well as providing transportation and entertainment.
The base ticket is just for a seat on the train which I was pretty happy with and they had several different prices available:
- Saver: – $104.00
- Value: – $130.00
- Flexible: – $210.00
- Premium: – $260.00 (Superliner Roomette)
I couldn’t find any discernible difference between the saver and value other than sometimes it is not available, and that the value is not refundable or changeable. I felt that I would mostly likely go for the value just in case.
- 14-day advance purchase price
- Non-refundable (but can be changed to a different trip)
- Refundable up to 24 hours before, or 10% fee if cancelled under 24 hours before departure
- Available on all trains
- 100% refundable, no fees
- Limited seating on all services
- All upgraded services
- Refundable rooms: 15 days before departure 10% fee, non-refundable after 14 days or less, but can be used for an alternate trip, cannot be cancelled after departure.
- Refundable seats: up until departure, if cancelled after departure 10% fee
Being a budget traveller has always been my motivation. My wanderlust is so strong I can rarely stay in one place long enough to earn a decent financial backing. After booking my ideal flights (kind of) and getting a great deal, I was ready to book my Value Fare Train seat.
Though on this trip I find I am craving the finer things in life. While usually I find myself using shared hostel rooms and basic transportation. On this trip I will be utilising the Superliner Roomette and staying in a Hotel! Now don’t get me wrong it is only on the blessing of my father that I can enjoy the superliner room. He has been amazing and chipped in to upgrade my ticket so I can experience this journey in style.
As I am now a proud holder of a premium Superliner Roomette ticket I get the following benefits:
- Meals are included
- 2 reclining seats which become beds
- Air con
- Personal service
- Soap, towels, linens
- Bottled water
- Space for 2 people and 2 smallish bags.
This train leaves Chicago every day at 8:05pm and arrives in New Orleans the next day at 3:35pm. It takes a total of 19 hours.
I booked for June 4th, I arrive at the Chicago airport 3pm and have chosen to find my own way from ORD to the union station.
The ticket I brought is fully refundable and includes all my meals while on board and also 2 pieces of checked luggage.
The roomette doesn’t have its own bathroom, but you do have a concierge who makes your bed for you which I think is a perfect consolation prize.
I also paid for the travel insurance on this ticket which cost an extra $17.00. Just to cover lost baggage and delays. I did buy my own travel insurance for my whole trip as well which for a month of Global insurance with a $0 excess cost me around $220.
Side note: I booked my ticket early April and when I checked the website today the roomette has gone up to $307.00 per ticket.
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