Top Ten Things Not to Do Traveling by a Train


California Zephyr

The inspiration for this list is the fact that my producer is on the Amtrack California Zephyr from Davis California to Omaha Nebraska. She will be enjoying the route through the High Sierras and will be spending two nights on the train. The idea was to go with girlfriends and take a historic route to their final destination of Omaha. There she will be watching the Longines FEI world cup horse jumping and dressage finals. I hope you enjoy the list.

Top Ten Things Not to Do Traveling by Train

10 If you are traveling by train, do not think you can sit just anywhere. If you do, at best you may be lucky and not take someone’s seat. At worst, you’ll get comfortable only to discover Tiny the WWF champ has a seat reservation where you are sitting. (Notice how quickly Tiny reacts when things don’t go his way, Bunky.)

9 If you are traveling by train, don’t forget to charge your phone before getting on. If you do forget, at best you will have to limit your calls. At worst, you will be without your phone when you need to send that text to your boss in answer to the question, “where the hell are you?”(Seems you forgot to tell the boss you were going on vacation huh, Ferd?)

8 If you are traveling by train, don’t forget a blanket or sweater. If you do, at best you’ll get chilled. At worst, trying to use your seatmate’s blanket might get you arrested for assault. (Maybe you should have asked before rolling over with it, Buford.)

7 If you are traveling by train, do not talk louder than those around you. If you do, at best you may get into an argument with someone bigger. At worst, you and your bags might be offloaded at the next stop which is a thousand miles from nowhere. (That mail hook was a bit of an insult huh, Pard?)

6 If you are traveling by train, do not walk around without your shoes. If you do, at best you may step on something that moves. At worst, you may need to re-evaluate how much you need those last pair of sock after the visit to the restroom. (This is not the beach, Buster. Shoes are required.)

5 If you are traveling by train, do not forget to take something to read. If you do, at best you’ll get tired of reading the safety messages in the coach. At worst, you’ll begin talking with someone who obviously was just released from a mental care facility. (Your hint should have been the focus on picking lint off your sweater that wasn’t there, Bud.)

4 If you are traveling by train, do not forget to bring snacks and water. If you do, at best the train provisions will be expensive. At worst, the last bottle of water and bag of chips will be auctioned off to the highest bidder after the twelve-hour delay at Donner Pass. (That name rings a bell doesn’t it, Tex?)

3 If you are traveling by train, do not leave your bag unattended in the overhead rack. If you do, at best you’ll be traveling with a group of nuns on the way to a retreat. At worst, whatever was in your bag will be for sale in the next car. (If you hurry you might be able to buy back your underwear, Putz.)

2 If you are traveling by train, do not walk around with a full drink. If you do, at best any spills will hit the aisle. At worst, the last lurch caused your cup to empty on the head of that enormous man in the seat you fell into. (That low growl you are hearing is not part of the train function, Guy. I would run.)

1 If you are traveling by train, do not forget where to get off. If you do, at best you can catch the next train back in twenty-four hours. At worst, the railroad detective will finally release you after several hours of investigation into the stowaway charge. (Why you decided to ride to the end of the line is anybody’s guess, Pal.)


  1. This is one of your best “ten things” yet, John. If someone sat in Tiny’s seat they should start praying while running. I doubt if throwing themselves on his mercy would work. 😀 — Suzanne

    1. I believe you are right , Suzanne. Such a short fuse he has.

  2. #6 had me cringing; #5 had me laughing. Great list, John.

    1. Thank you, Staci. Glad to catch you on two fronts.

  3. Gwen Plano · ·

    LOL…a group of nuns going to a retreat? Worry not, I suspect your lovely “producer” is enjoying a lot of laughter (and wine) with her friends while traveling through the gorgeous terrain. 🙂

    1. I certainly hope so. Thanks, Gwen. The potential is there for sure. 😀

  4. Great one. Though I’m curious if all trains are iceboxes. I’ve only been on a long train ride once and it was fairly unpleasant. A part broke halfway home and the person I was sitting to was . . . It wasn’t pretty.

    1. I gotta wonder where these people come from. Thanks, Charles.

      1. The one I was stuck with was in my college. Made it a long trip.

      2. Ooooooh. “So what’s your major?” SNNNNOOOORE.

      3. I wish it was that mundane. Trust me when I say that you don’t want to know. All I’ll say is that my college was known as a party school.

      4. Oooooh. Here help yourself to a line.

      5. I’ll just take the bottle. I assume a line of shots.

      6. Oh. Yes that’s it. Shots. Oops, just dropped my mirror.

      7. Never touched the other stuff. Far too dangerous.

  5. I loved the long train rides we took from Kitchener to Quebec City with students. We were able to have a whole car to ourselves. We’d change trains in Toronto and Montreal – running like crazy so as not to miss our train. Great memories! Thanks, Mr. John!

    1. Sounds like a one way ticket to a nervous breakdown to me. Thanks, John.

      1. That’s when I was almost a youngster myself. I’m sure those trips would give me heart failure today.

  6. Ooooh… that sounds like a truly grand trip for your wife. Maybe you can get her to do a guest post about it… hint, hint.
    Love the second one!
    When I saw your title the first thing I thought of was the headline I had just read where an airline refused to let some little girls board the plane because they were wearing leggings. 🙄 Dad was wearing shorts, but that was okay. But we know what a threat to national security little girls in leggings are… I think I’ll have a second cup of coffee.
    Have a marvelous Monday, my friend. Mega hugs.

    1. Thank you, Teagan. Leggings??? What kind of crazy is that? Happy ..uh…Monday. Hugs.

  7. These are great, John! Number two reminded me of my first and only ride on a train. Some guy had one too many full drinks and made my trip a nightmare. 😦

    1. That can happen. UGH. Thanks, Jill

  8. I think #5 applies to air travel too. I always seem to find them.

    1. Of course, you look like someone I would like to talk to for hours. 🙂

      1. That’s good, because I usually do all the listening.

  9. A welcome dose of humor on my dreary rainy Monday. Loved #5 and #4.
    I have never traveled by train. Now I’m not sure I want to, LOL!

    1. Well, I will find out if a sleeper accommodation helps. Hope so. 😀

  10. Donner pass *snort*. Good one, John.

    1. Ha ha ha. This is why I love to have you along. You always get the ones I lay between the lines. 😀

  11. Lol! Hilarious as always and my best friend just took a train from Texas to Chicago. She would crack up at these. 🙂

    1. Thanks, Jan. I’ll bet she has some stories. 😀

  12. Sounds like so much fun, John. Hope they all get a giggle from your list. I did.

    1. I do too and hope they are not having any of these issues.

      1. They’re having the ideal trip, I’m sure. Someone has to.. *smiles* LOL

      2. You would think there has to be at least one good trip. 😀

      3. Odds say at some point someone does, right. Double down on this one, maybe. 🙂

  13. If you go by train always remember, the scenic area pass by during the night.

    1. I have heard that. I hope that won’t be the case.

  14. Clever with the Donner Pass mention! Your producer is lucky to be taking such a trip. Try not to get into too much trouble while she is gone.

    1. I’ll try. So far all is good. 😀

  15. I love traveling by train, but I’m not sure I’d enjoy two full days of it … not without having booked a sleeper, I mean. One with a shower, too! Great list you have here, John. Hope your wife enjoys her trip!

    1. The communications are spotty. A text here and there. I think she is enjoying it. Yes sleeper and shower. I’ll find out more later.

  16. We considered traveling to New York City by train, but chose to fly.
    Thanks for reinforcing my decision, John.

    1. Ha ha ha. Was cheaper I’ll bet. Thanks, Hook

  17. dlfinnauthor · ·

    A train trip is a dream vacation and on my list of things to do! I loved your traveling tips:)

    1. I think you should then. Good luck and thank yo for the comment. 😀

  18. I’m holding tight to my dream of a cross country journey by train, in retirement, John – but you’re not helping. I hope your producer has a fine trip and you give us an update.

    Re: #3, when I take a train to Philadelphia or Washington, DC, they change crews in New York. Most conductors will tell you not to leave your seat while the train in in Penn station, if you want to arrive with your luggage/laptop/underwear. Despite the no ticket – no platform access, people manage to get on, grab your bag and exit looking like any other tourist.

    Re: #1, When we lived in NY, my ex and I one got on the EE instead of the E train. The E goes to Queens, the EE goes to the Bronx. Bad night. Suffice it to say, we were seeing more than one E anyway, it was an easy mistake.

    1. Lucky you had the goddess of grog holding your hand. Great story, Dan. Thanks. The producer has been out of touch. The phone connection almost nonexistent and text somewhat spotty. What I have heard is things are going well. The scenery is spectacular, food passable. Keep your dream and do not miss the California Zephyr. It goes from Chicago to Emeryville California. You will be in heaven. (you can book sleeping accommodations)

      1. And such a cool name 🙂

  19. A train trip through the rockies sounds lovely! I hope your wife has a lovely time, and doesn’t get her luggage pinched, or have any bad experiences along the way.

    1. I certainly do as well. Thanks, Deborah.

  20. Great post John. Just started reading His Revenge last night. Love how it picks up where My GRL left off.

    1. I just found this in Spam, Don. I hope you enjoy His Revenge. Thank you

      1. I am about halfway through. So far I am.

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