I spent 30 hours on an Amtrak from NYC to Miami. Here are 11 ways I made the long ride more bearable.

·6 min read
Left: Author relaxes on the train with a window opened on the left and her duffel on the right, Right: author takes a selfie with the train in the background
An Insider reporter took an overnight train from New York City to Miami. Joey Hadden/Insider
  • I recently spent 30 hours on a train traveling from New York City to Miami.

  • While on the longest train journey I've ever taken, I found ways to keep comfy and pass the time.

  • I wore my coziest clothes, brought my own entertainment, and tried to make my room feel like home.

I've always loved traveling by train. So, instead of flying just under three hours from New York City to Miami for a reporting trip, I booked a 30-hour Amtrak journey - the longest train ride I've ever taken.

The author sits on a train to Paris looking out a window to the left
The author on a train to Paris. Joey Hadden/Insider

The longest I'd previously spent on a train was approximately 3.5 hours when traveling from Amsterdam to Paris, but the thought of spending 30 hours on a train appealed to me.

I imagined I'd have time to relax and look out of the window while listening to all the podcast episodes I'd been meaning to catch up on.

When I boarded the Amtrak train at Moynihan Train Hall in New York City's Penn Station, I settled into a Roomette, a tiny, private suite that sleeps two people.

A view of an empty roomette across from the author's on an Amtrak.
A view of an empty Roomette across the way. Joey Hadden/Insider

A step up from sitting in coach, where you get a regular train seat, a Roomette is a private space with a door and blinds to cover up the windows.

Inside, there are two seats across from each other, a table that folds out in-between, and a bed above the seats that pulls down. The seats also pull out into a bed.

And in some Roomettes (mine included), there's a side table that swings open to reveal a toilet. Above, there's a folding sink and mirror.

Despite having my own room, I felt pretty uncomfortable during the ride and like the journey was taking forever. Thankfully, I had enough time to find ways to make it easier on myself.

The author sitting in a train to Miami with greenery out the window
The author smiles on a train to Miami from NYC. Joey Hadden/Insider

I romanticized my overnight train trip to Miami until the moment I stepped on the train. I don't know what I expected exactly, but I found myself feeling antsy and anxious about the length of the trip and the constant motion.

Nevertheless, I adapted. Here's everything I did to make myself feel more comfortable and pass the time.

First off, I wore the comfiest clothes I own.

The author sits on the train with her feet up
The author relaxes in cozy attire. Joey Hadden/Insider

Does it look like I'm wearing pajamas? That's because I pretty much am. These are the most pajama-like trousers I own that I'd wear in public, although my own mother would argue that they should only be for sleeping.

But who cares? Once you get on the train, you'll be happy you're comfortable, no matter what you look like.

I went with the comfiest shoes that easily slip on and off.

The author holds up her comfy shoe
The author's shoes were an important choice. Joey Hadden/Insider

After years of overpacking, I have a new rule: one pair of shoes per week of travel. That meant I could only bring the shoes on my feet for my six-day trip to Miami, so I picked the comfiest ones I have.

I picked up these memory-foam babies at T.J. Maxx for only $20, and they slip on and off very easily. This was great for being able to leave my room quickly with shoes on.

When I found myself getting motion sick, I made sure to sit in the seat that was facing the same direction the train was going. This helped a bit.

The author sits in a train car with graffiti out the window on the left
The author sits in a south-facing seat. Joey Hadden/Insider

This is an old trick my mom taught me when I would get train sick during our weekend getaways from our home in Connecticut to NYC. Going against the motion of the train makes me feel sicker, so I stuck to one chair my whole trip.

Since I knew my bathroom would be right next to my sleeping quarters, I brought Poo Pourri with me to eliminate any odors.

The author holds Poopouri on the toilet
The author poses with a bottle of Poo Pouri. Joey Hadden/Insider

A decade ago, I may have had a bigger problem with the toilet situation next to my bed in the Roomette. But thankfully I had packed some Poo Pourri, a spray that goes in the toilet just before you poop to eliminate odors.

I also adjusted the lights and the temperature to my liking.

The author's finger presses a button turning on a light in her roomette
The author turns on the reading light on her chair. Joey Hadden/Insider

Changing the lighting throughout the trip helped me feel like I was changing environments even though I wasn't.

Bringing my own snacks was a game changer, since my ride only came with meals that weren't that delicious, in my opinion.

The author holds trail mix on the train
The author holds her snack of choice. Joey Hadden/Insider

Trail mix and granola bars kept me full in-between meals. My meals were included with my ticket purchase, which cost $557.

There were about five options for meals. I went with short ribs and mashed potatoes for dinner, and it was decent. The next day, however, I tried the salmon and rice for lunch, and I found the salmon tough and dry and the rice tasted like the salmon, which threw me off.

But going to the dining halls to eat my meals kept my room from getting messy and allowed me to get out of the same space for a few minutes.

The author sits in the dining car with her meal
The author dines on the train. Joey Hadden/Insider

Even though eating in my room was an option, I didn't want my bunk to smell like food all night.

So did getting out of the train for a short walk during longer stops.

The author takes a selfie outside of her sleeper car
The author takes a selfie in Orlando, Florida, one of the train's longer stops. Joey Hadden/Insider

Every few stops, the train took a little break, and passengers could walk around the platform for 10 minutes or so.

Getting up to stretch my legs and take in some fresh air made the next few hours of being crammed in a room with a window that didn't open a little more bearable.

To pass the time, get moving, and feel more at home, I took frequent dance breaks in my room where I closed the curtains and blasted music in my ears.

The author dances in her room in two side-by-side photos
The author dances to music in her ears. Joey Hadden/Insider

I tried to make the train feel like home, and at home, I dance pretty much all day.

I live alone and listen to music constantly, so shutting the curtains gave me a moment of privacy to just be my goofy self. This helped me keep moving, too.

I also brought my own entertainment, from video games to playlists.

The author plays a Nintendo Switch on the train
The author plays Mario Kart. Joey Hadden/Insider

I brought my own devices and didn't rely on the spotty internet connection to watch movies and listen to music and podcasts. Downloading these beforehand helped, and made the time go by a little faster.

In-between movies, shows, and video games, I looked out of the window and took in the views.

A view of the sunset out the window in an Amtrak roomette
A view out of the window around sunset. Joey Hadden/Insider

Looking out of the window was a constant reminder that I was on my way to somewhere new, and it helped me stay excited for my trip.

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