I want to travel around America next year. need help! Watch

green1001
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So, I would love to travel around America next summer for 2-3 months. Starting boston/newyork and heading west coast. Has anyone done this before, if so, how much roughly would it cost, is it safe to do alone, and is their a travel company that specialize in this?

Thanks
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DonJuan
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I can't help with travel companies that specialise in America or cost as I have only travelled within America with family when we were living there. But I can tell you that it is certainly safe to do alone, you know, compared pretty much all other popular travel destinations. Crime rates have dropped drastically over the past 25 years, with particularly stunning drops in the big cities including New York.

Also, what do you mean by 'heading west'? If you mean overland, forget it. Nothing particularly brilliant to see in between the coasts other than Chicago. There is plenty of great wilderness etc. but there is also lots of natural beauty in the coastal states, so my honest recommendation with only 2-3 months is to stick to the coasts with maybe a stop in Chicago.
Your best bet for cheap tickets, providing you are under 26 and/or a student, is STA. You can do multi-stage trips and get great discounts. What I would recommend is London>Boston, overground through New York, Baltimore, and Philly finishing in DC, DC>Chicago, Chicago>LA, overground up the coast to San Francisco, San Francisco>London.
I would say the overground leg from Boston to DC is a must, as Boston, New York and DC are not to be missed, but if budget and time don't allow, you can skip any cities in between. I haven't been to Chicago so can't really comment there. LA is a must as is the stunning drive up the coast, and although I haven't been to SF I hear that is fantastic too.
Could you shed any more light on what type of things you want to see? If it is mostly cities, culture and sightseeing, you can't really go wrong with what I've suggested but if you really want to see like Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon, the Rockies, that kind of thing, you won't get all that in plus those cities in your timeframe.

EDIT: You probably want to do the east coast leg DC to Boston not Boston to DC to minimise flight times, actually. That said, try both configurations to see what gets you the best price and also try to avoid DC in the very height of summer as it gets really hot down there.
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green1001
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I've been to LA,San Fran and Vegas (Grand cayon), a few years ago with family. Would like to spend most of the time on the east coast (Boston, NY, Philly, DC) but would love to go to Miami, Nashville and New Orleans. I would like to go back to to the west coast (San Diego, Vegas, San Fran) Possibly Seattle too. I'm assuming that most of east coast would be seen by buses and trains between cities then flights between east and west.
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Emma_B
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My boyfriend and I travelled up the West Coast and down the East coast last year for just under 3 months, and we spent around £4000 each altogether, including all flights, hotels/motels/hostels (we didn't stay in any dorms so if you do this it may be even cheaper), buses, trains, food, attractions etc. We didn't do any tours, we just did it all ourselves.

We visited LA (staying in Hollywood/downtown/Venice Beach), Las Vegas, Santa Barbara, San Francisco, Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Atlantic City, Washington DC, Orlando and Miami.

I'll be happy to give any advice
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green1001
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(Original post by Emma_B)
My boyfriend and I travelled up the West Coast and down the East coast last year for just under 3 months, and we spent around £4000 each altogether, including all flights, hotels/motels/hostels (we didn't stay in any dorms so if you do this it may be even cheaper), buses, trains, food, attractions etc. We didn't do any tours, we just did it all ourselves.

We visited LA (staying in Hollywood/downtown/Venice Beach), Las Vegas, Santa Barbara, San Francisco, Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Atlantic City, Washington DC, Orlando and Miami.

I'll be happy to give any advice
Did you find the buses and trains where reliable? How much where you're flights within America? how long did you stay in the east coast, i think i would like to stay around boston, new york, philly and washington for a good bit, How long did it take you to do these cities?

Did you pre book any hotels,motels or hostel before leaving for the states?

Thanks
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jamesfly
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I can not help with journey organizations that focus on The united states or price as I have only journey within The united states with household when we were residing there.
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LinzyLoo
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I haven't used the trains but I have used Greyhound bus which is really good value for money. It will be cheaper than the train so you should use that if you possibly can. If you want to go to Miami, you would need to fly though. I have been to Miami twice and I can tell you it is great, but expensive. The first time I went, I was alone, and stayed in a hostel which was only $20 a night which is really cheap. It was the best hostel ever - they had BBQs and parties on the roof and had a hot tub, free wifi etc. I made friends with the girls in my room straight away and they invited me out with them that night. (Drink is v expensive though). Bear in mind not all places have hostels though - I lived in Ocean City in Maryland for 3 months and there were NONE.

So you could work your way down the East Coast by Greyhound, until Philly maybe? Then fly from there to Miami, then Miami to San Fran and do the west coast? New York will probably take you the longest because there is soo much to see and explore.
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robert367
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I can't help with journey organizations that focus on The united declares or price as I have only journeyed within The united declares with household when we were residing there. But I can tell you that it is certainly secure to do alone, you know, in comparison fairly much all other well-known holiday locations. Criminal activity prices have decreased significantly over previous times 25 decades, with particularly amazing falls in the big places such as New You are able to.

Also, what do you mean by 'heading west'? If you mean overland, ignore it. Nothing particularly amazing to see in between the shorelines other than Chi town. There is a lot of excellent forests etc. but there is also many organic charm in the seaside declares, so my sincere suggestions with only 2-3 several weeks is to adhere to the shorelines with maybe a quit in Chi town.
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Emma_B
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(Original post by green1001)
Did you find the buses and trains where reliable? How much where you're flights within America? how long did you stay in the east coast, i think i would like to stay around boston, new york, philly and washington for a good bit, How long did it take you to do these cities?

Did you pre book any hotels,motels or hostel before leaving for the states?

Thanks
I travelled on Megabus, Greyhound buses and Amtrak trains and found them all to be reliable. Megabus is the cheapest option but only available on the upper East coast, and when you can get a bus from Boston to New York for £4, you can't really complain! Greyhound is slightly more expensive and more widespread, but we had no problems with it. Some people say that you get weirdos travelling on these type of long distance buses but to be honest, you get weirdos everywhere, and we never found this to affect us at all. Amtrak is the more expensive option, but is a lot more comfortable, as you get a lot of space - the seats recline back and a leg rest comes up so you can almost lie vertically, even just on the regular coach seats. I only travelled on Amtrak up the Pacific coast (which has amazing views of the coast - it literally hugs the shore and the beaches) and then later from Orlando to Miami, and both journeys were very comfortable. The journey time wasn't really any less than if we had got a bus (for some reason the trains seem to move very slow!), but it would have been a long, uncomfortable journey had we been couped up on a regular coach seat on a Greyhound.

Our flights within America were £168 each altogether. We booked all of our internal flights at the same time on Expedia (multi-city option), so that price was for a flight from San Francisco to Boston (with a stop at Atlanta on the way) and also a flight from Washington DC to Orlando.

We stayed in Boston for 7 days, New York for 7 days, Philadelphia for 5 days, and Washington DC for 5 days. I think this was plenty of time to see everything that we wanted to see in each city, but if you like museums and stuff, you may want to stay 7 days in DC to get round all of the Smithsonian museums, archives and zoo, which are all free.

We pretty much prebooked everything before we left the UK, we made a plan of all of the places we wanted to visit and how long we wanted to stay in each place, then booked whatever travel we could, and picked the best option for hotels/motels/hostels in each city and booked everything a couple of months before we left. I think because it was our first time doing something like this, we wanted to be prepared and know what we were doing next, rather than risk getting to a city and finding that there were no nice places to stay, or where to go next, or how to get there. It worked for us, but some people prefer a bit more freedom, it depends how brave you feel about it really!
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forrah123
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Good luck! Dont forget to take pics and share with us!
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MixtliMix
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To be perfectly frank, Miami's sort of a dump. I'd probably spend a little more time in California instead. If you're of driving age, rent a convertible and drive across the Pacific Coast Highway, all the way up from San Diego to San Fran. You'll be stunned.
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suffocation1992
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(Original post by Emma_B)
I travelled on Megabus, Greyhound buses and Amtrak trains and found them all to be reliable. Megabus is the cheapest option but only available on the upper East coast, and when you can get a bus from Boston to New York for £4, you can't really complain! Greyhound is slightly more expensive and more widespread, but we had no problems with it. Some people say that you get weirdos travelling on these type of long distance buses but to be honest, you get weirdos everywhere, and we never found this to affect us at all. Amtrak is the more expensive option, but is a lot more comfortable, as you get a lot of space - the seats recline back and a leg rest comes up so you can almost lie vertically, even just on the regular coach seats. I only travelled on Amtrak up the Pacific coast (which has amazing views of the coast - it literally hugs the shore and the beaches) and then later from Orlando to Miami, and both journeys were very comfortable. The journey time wasn't really any less than if we had got a bus (for some reason the trains seem to move very slow!), but it would have been a long, uncomfortable journey had we been couped up on a regular coach seat on a Greyhound.

Our flights within America were £168 each altogether. We booked all of our internal flights at the same time on Expedia (multi-city option), so that price was for a flight from San Francisco to Boston (with a stop at Atlanta on the way) and also a flight from Washington DC to Orlando.

We stayed in Boston for 7 days, New York for 7 days, Philadelphia for 5 days, and Washington DC for 5 days. I think this was plenty of time to see everything that we wanted to see in each city, but if you like museums and stuff, you may want to stay 7 days in DC to get round all of the Smithsonian museums, archives and zoo, which are all free.

We pretty much prebooked everything before we left the UK, we made a plan of all of the places we wanted to visit and how long we wanted to stay in each place, then booked whatever travel we could, and picked the best option for hotels/motels/hostels in each city and booked everything a couple of months before we left. I think because it was our first time doing something like this, we wanted to be prepared and know what we were doing next, rather than risk getting to a city and finding that there were no nice places to stay, or where to go next, or how to get there. It worked for us, but some people prefer a bit more freedom, it depends how brave you feel about it really!
Hi! I am going to the US to stay with some relatives at the end of August, they live on Long Island and in NYC. However, I plan to stay with them for a week or so, and the remaining two weeks exploring some East Coast areas. Any recommendations? I quite like your itinerary - NYC - Boston -NYC - Philly - DC. Are there reasonably priced hostels in these cities? What is the standard? I only have experience of hostels in Asia.
I'd also like to visit some smaller places too if possible.
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Emljhow
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Hey guys may as well just tell you all that I'm going to Washington dc alone in 5 days for the summer and I am going to be blogging whilst I am there. Take a look if you want to know what it's like for a Brit to be pretty much a loner in the USA! Http://escapetodc.blogspot.co.uk xx
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Little Jules
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(Original post by green1001)
Did you find the buses and trains where reliable? How much where you're flights within America? how long did you stay in the east coast, i think i would like to stay around boston, new york, philly and washington for a good bit, How long did it take you to do these cities?

Did you pre book any hotels,motels or hostel before leaving for the states?

Thanks

I've spent a bit of time traveling to East Coast. I would recommend checking the trains, buses and planes for each of your journeys, as prices do vary. Jet Blue are often quite cheap. Last time I was there I flew in and out of NY as it was cheapest, and then took a bus to Boston. From Boston we flew to DC, and then took a bus from there to NY. Other times I've been there I have always flown between Boston & DC as it's cheaper and quicker. I once took the train from DC to Philly which wasn't too expensive. However, on the whole, trains in the US are more expensive, and quite infrequent. The Chinatown bus services are pretty good.

You should be able to find hostels in all of those cities, but I would suggest pre-booking.

In terms of timing, you can spend weeks in New York, but I would say make sure you have at least four days. Do a whole week if you can. I only spent one day in Philly, and that was fine, but I'm sure it would be good to have a couple of days there. Boston is definitely doable in three days, but I'd give DC four or five if you can...

(Original post by suffocation1992)
Hi! I am going to the US to stay with some relatives at the end of August, they live on Long Island and in NYC. However, I plan to stay with them for a week or so, and the remaining two weeks exploring some East Coast areas. Any recommendations? I quite like your itinerary - NYC - Boston -NYC - Philly - DC. Are there reasonably priced hostels in these cities? What is the standard? I only have experience of hostels in Asia.
I'd also like to visit some smaller places too if possible.
Would you be looking to cover NYC in those two weeks, or do you plan to see it while you are staying with family? If you only have a couple of weeks, coming back to NY to go to Philly will take up quite a bit of time. The bus takes 5 or 6 hours.
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suffocation1992
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(Original post by Little Jules)
I've spent a bit of time traveling to East Coast. I would recommend checking the trains, buses and planes for each of your journeys, as prices do vary. Jet Blue are often quite cheap. Last time I was there I flew in and out of NY as it was cheapest, and then took a bus to Boston. From Boston we flew to DC, and then took a bus from there to NY. Other times I've been there I have always flown between Boston & DC as it's cheaper and quicker. I once took the train from DC to Philly which wasn't too expensive. However, on the whole, trains in the US are more expensive, and quite infrequent. The Chinatown bus services are pretty good.

You should be able to find hostels in all of those cities, but I would suggest pre-booking.

In terms of timing, you can spend weeks in New York, but I would say make sure you have at least four days. Do a whole week if you can. I only spent one day in Philly, and that was fine, but I'm sure it would be good to have a couple of days there. Boston is definitely doable in three days, but I'd give DC four or five if you can...



Would you be looking to cover NYC in those two weeks, or do you plan to see it while you are staying with family? If you only have a couple of weeks, coming back to NY to go to Philly will take up quite a bit of time. The bus takes 5 or 6 hours.
Well I've been to NY before obviously, but still like to do thing when I'm there. I'm staying with family for one week out the three weeks I am there. I am quite keen to see some of New England, as I haven't been there before. I know it's in the other direction, but is there actually much to do in Philadelphia or is it just another US city?
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Emma_B
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(Original post by suffocation1992)
Hi! I am going to the US to stay with some relatives at the end of August, they live on Long Island and in NYC. However, I plan to stay with them for a week or so, and the remaining two weeks exploring some East Coast areas. Any recommendations? I quite like your itinerary - NYC - Boston -NYC - Philly - DC. Are there reasonably priced hostels in these cities? What is the standard? I only have experience of hostels in Asia.
I'd also like to visit some smaller places too if possible.
Because we only stayed in private rooms, I guess our hostel choices were a little more limited than if we had chose to stay in dorm rooms. We stayed at Morningside Inn in New York city, which only had private rooms but was in a nice location on the Upper West side of Manhattan, just a couple of blocks from Central Park and right round the corner from a subway station. In Boston we stayed at 40 Berkeley, which is a lovely hostel, again in a nice area and just down the road from a subway station. Philadelphia was more problematic for us as there were not many hostels within our budget that had private rooms. We ended up staying by the airport in a motel to stay within budget, then just got a train into the city. In DC we stayed at the Allen Lee hotel (although it was classed as a hotel it was probably more of a hostel), which was around 5 blocks from the White House and the mall where the museums are, so we could just walk everywhere from the hotel.

We didn't really get to see any of the smaller towns because we were staying in the main cities with loads of things to do. However, as we were in Boston just before Halloween, we did take a bus ride to Salem, which was awesome at that time of the year - loads of stuff on because of visitors that come for attractions related to the Witch trials, but the whole town was full of quirky shops, people dressed up, it was definitely a cool place to be at that time of year, but I think that it is like that all year round because the whole 'spooky/creepy' thing is the main draw to visitors.
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Emma_B
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(Original post by suffocation1992)
Well I've been to NY before obviously, but still like to do thing when I'm there. I'm staying with family for one week out the three weeks I am there. I am quite keen to see some of New England, as I haven't been there before. I know it's in the other direction, but is there actually much to do in Philadelphia or is it just another US city?
Philadelphia is interesting if you are interested in the history of the US. They do free tours around the Hall of Independence with talks on the events prior to, during and after the signing of the declaration of Independence. You will probably get a bit of banter with the Americans for being British but its all good fun and I think they have got over it now! There is also the Liberty Bell to see and there are a few nice parks to visit. And you can't go to Philly without running up the famous steps from 'Rocky', before punching your fists in the air, walking back down and undoing all your hard work by getting a nice authentic Philly Cheesesteak
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Little Jules
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(Original post by suffocation1992)
Well I've been to NY before obviously, but still like to do thing when I'm there. I'm staying with family for one week out the three weeks I am there. I am quite keen to see some of New England, as I haven't been there before. I know it's in the other direction, but is there actually much to do in Philadelphia or is it just another US city?
I think Philly is very interesting, but you'd be fine with a day or two there. I actually did it as a day trip from DC on the train, which was fine. Obviously you can't see the whole city but we felt we'd done well.
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Mister Dead
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(Original post by green1001)
Did you find the buses and trains where reliable?

Thanks
Hey,

last year I went to New York, Chicago, Austin, New Orleans and San Francisco. I did most of the travelling by train except for a flight east>west from New Orleans to San fran. So here's a bit of a guide for you or anyone else in this thread that's thinking of using trains in the US

Reliability and cons

I absolutely adored travelling by train, but one thing I can tell you is they they are not reliable. I have seen trains come in over 20 hours late. It's a little misleading because a train journey there can last over 48 hours, but nonetheless, that is late. It's unusual for them to be that late, but not unusual at all for them to be late by a few hours. This most commonly occurs for two reasons:

Problems with the tracks - especially in bits like Texas where the heat in the summer months is exceptionally hot and it warps the tracks

Freight trains - Amtrak don't own the tracks in most states, and freight often gets priority. Get stuck behind one of those bad boys going 30 MPH a hundred or two miles from the next stop and you're in for a slow few hours of sight seeing.

Slow - Amtrak are not fast trains. You'll be lucky to hit 50mph. I like this.

Pro's

On the plus side, connections with a certain amount of time in between are often guaranteed, so if they miss that connection, they're obliged to get you there one way or another, even if it means putting you in a taxi and chasing the train across the country into another state...

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yeah, that's $512.

The food is very decent and most trains have dining cars where you can eat proper cooked meals. They also have a bar that's open in the day and the evening where you can buy reasonably priced, decent beers and retire to the viewing carriage. You'll meet a lot of people travelling on trains because of the amount of time you're on them.

They are much more comfortable than Greyhound, even in coach class.

Many of the routes the trains take have great stuff to see on the way EG.

New York to Chicago you pass Sing Sing Penitentiary and West Point Military academy on the banks of the Hudson.

Heading to Austin, through Dallas and getting to pass the Texas School Book Depository/Dealey Plaza and the building from the opening credits of 'Dallas'. So many great places you miss when you just fly from A>B!

And many of the routes are just spectacular, such as the California Zephyr where you'll see stunning scenery such as the Sierra Nevadas, Rocky Mountains and just beautiful bits of Colorado.

Thoughts

Travelling by train is only really something you should consider if you like the 'getting there' part of travelling. Otherwise fly. America is such a vast wilderness that if you don't actually like the travelling itself you should not consider greyhound or amtrak. You have to accept that it will arrive when it arrives and try to enjoy that!

I love travelling by train, and when you can get up and walk up and down in the large carriages, visiting the bar and the dining car and chatting to people in the viewing cars (basically just all window from floor to ceiling) then even a 36hour journey is a pleasure it's a magnificent way to travel. Some of the most awesome people I met were on the trains.

Rail Pass

An Amtrak pass is available for 15 days ($450), 30 days ($650) or 45 days ($850) or something like that from Sta Travel. This entitles you to 8, 12 or 18 seperate segments of travel. You need to look up exactly what this means because 30 days doesn't mean it's valid for 30 days, it means it's valid for travel that spans 30 days, so can last a lot longer in total than 30 days. I was there about 5 weeks and I think I had journeys left over from the medium price rail card.

It's worth noting that there are only so many places available on each train for pass holders, so it's absolutely essential you book the seats well in advance. Ideally before you leave for the US.

If you buy a pass it will save you money if you are planning to travel by train - But it won't necessarily be chapear than a flight or a bus. This will vary. Many of the 'prices' of the tickets I got using my railcard were between $75-$200, so you do the math!

trains

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love 'em
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gemini89
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(Original post by Mister Dead)

.....but one thing I can tell you is they they are not reliable. I have seen trains come in over 20 hours late. It's a little misleading because a train journey there can last over 48 hours, but nonetheless, that is late. It's unusual for them to be that late, but not unusual at all for them to be late by a few hours. This most commonly occurs for two reasons:

Problems with the tracks - especially in bits like Texas where the heat in the summer months is exceptionally hot and it warps the tracks

Freight trains - Amtrak don't own the tracks in most states, and freight often gets priority. Get stuck behind one of those bad boys going 30 MPH a hundred or two miles from the next stop and you're in for a slow few hours of sight seeing.

Slow - Amtrak are not fast trains. You'll be lucky to hit 50mph. I like this.


The food is very decent and most trains have dining cars where you can eat proper cooked meals. They also have a bar that's open in the day and the evening where you can buy reasonably priced, decent beers and retire to the viewing carriage. You'll meet a lot of people travelling on trains because of the amount of time you're on them.

Agree with much of your post - especially the delays.....my train from Chicago to San Francisco ended up being four/five hours late and that's pretty normal. At one point it was more like 10/11, but they caught up a bit! When planning to go on a long train trip make sure the arrival time isn't something like 9pm/10pm, as mostly likely you'll be late, and hence arriving somewhere more like 1/2/3am!

Totally disagree though with the food aspect, I thought it was absolutely awful. In the dining car the food was so rubbery, tasteless and overpriced, and served on paper plates (bit weird if you're paying $10/15 for a course)! If you stay in one of the sleeping cabins (like I did) then you have three meals a day for free.....it was free and I still hated it and stopped going to the dining car, so that tells you something! I'm generally easy to please with food, and free stuff usually makes me so happy, but not in this case for sure! Interesting experience in the dining car though since you are sat with other travellers on tables of four - met some really nice and also strange people!
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