New York to Montreal – Amtrak Adirondack Adventure

I was really excited to go to Montreal.

I had never been to Canada so this trip would help me tick off the country.
I heard it was a mini-France and I was excited to eat as many croissants as I could. I read in my Lonely Planet guidebook that it was a foodie haven.
Lastly and most importantly: it cost only us only $90 return (per person) to get there from New York via Amtrak Adirondack train!

Yes. I just said train.

The Amtrak Adirondack journey was approx. 10-11 hours each way.
The only real issue I had with a journey this length on board a train were the bathroom facilities but apart from that, I didn’t mind that it took half a day to travel. I read that this train trip was very scenic, and it allowed me to catch up on my reading, writing, audiobooks and trip planning.

For the journey I packed the following essentials:

Snacks
– Smartfoods White Cheddar Popcorn (love this stuff)
– Goldfish crackers
– Muesli bars
– Whole Foods Breakfast Croissants (were stale by the time we ate them)
– My Banana Toffee Easter egg 😂
– Pret A Manger sandwiches
– A bag of Starbursts
Miscellaneous
– Comfy socks
– Wet wipes
– Disinfectant wipes (especially for the bathroom just in case it was scary in there)
– (Ava’s) Fleece blanket
– Eye mask
– Ear plugs
– Bose noise cancelling headphones

Our Journey To

We arrived 45mins at Penn Station for our 8:15AM Amtrak train.
I wanted to get to the station early to secure seats together as seating was on a first-come first- serve (not assigned), and seats on the left hand side, facing north.
I had read on a forum that the views were best on the left hand side, facing north. The train line ran along the Hudson River for some parts and the tip really paid off.

When we arrived at Penn Station and found where to go for our train, we had our passports and tickets checked, luggage tagged, and instructed to line up in what looked like a random queue in the middle of the station.

At around 8:05AM, we started boarding the train and made sure to grab left hand sided seats. I thought the train would be late to depart but to my surprise, it didn’t! It departed at 8:15AM on the dot.

The train ride was a little rocky at the beginning and it reminded me on being on board a ship. However, once we were on the outside train lines, the ride was smooth.

By 9AM I had eaten half of all the snacks.

The views were gorgeous. The river. The ‘wintery’ trees still brown and leafless. The ice melting. It reminded me briefly of the time I sailed down the Rhine River in Germany.

Believe it or not, the 10-11 hours went by quickly.
If I had to sum up what I got up to, it would be: eating, sleeping, listening to music, looking over at Jon’s iPad, annoying him every 30 mins or so, and reading books on my iPad.

The most exciting thing that happened was when the Canadian Border Security checked our passports, tickets, and asked us questions.

We arrived 15 minutes ahead of schedule into Gare Centrale, Montreal.

Our Return Trip

Amtrak train
Image of the number 68 Amtrak train (Montreal to New York route)

The departure procedure from Montreal to New York was very casual and easy.  An Amtrak lady checked our tickets at the station and we just hopped onto the train.
We arrived at the station early again to secure seats together.  I chose to sit on the left hand side heading south to get some of the video footage.

The most exciting thing that happened on this trip was when the USA Border Security officers drilled Jon and I.. wanting to know how we knew each other, what we are doing coming into the US, and what he does for work.

Unfortunately, our train arrived into Penn Station a couple of hours late. Our train had to share the train track with other trains and that caused delays.

Our trip was still pleasant and I managed to entertain myself for a large part of it.

Amtrak Adirondack Overall

I would highly recommend the Amtrak Adirondack train to Montreal.

However, if you have a weak bladder and/or a sensitive nose, I do not recommend it. 

A few features to note:

Leg room: I am 5′ 6″ or 166cm and I fit snugly.  If you are a giant, you will probably need to try and secure two seats and sit sideways.

Food: There was a cafe carriage but I didn’t need to go to. As you can see above, I packed enough to feed the people in one carriage. I was told there is wi-fi in the cafe but apparently it didn’t work.

Wifi: According to the Amtrak website, only selected carriages have wi-fi. Ours did not and I actually liked being disconnected.

Cleanliness: I found on both legs of the trip that our seats were very well kept and clean. I feel sorry for the cleaners that had to fetch all the popcorn that didn’t make it into my mouth.

(UPDATED 21 April, 2015) Luggage: The Amtrak Adirondack booking allowed for carry-on luggage only. There was NO checked luggage option for this trip. Our luggage was counted at Penn Station but not at Montreal.  I can only assume that it was because it was a full train.  
NOTE: They do NOT like you putting your bags on the seat next to you. They must be stored in the overhead, under the seat in front or the designated baggage areas that were either in the front or back of the carriage.


Note: I went to the bathroom only once and that was on the train to New York.
The train hadn’t left the station yet. The bathroom was a reasonable size, with a lot of room for people if they needed to get change or do some yoga poses secretly.  Although I wouldn’t recommend staying in there too long as a) it stunk and b) people will think you are doing something nasty.

4 thoughts

  1. Hi! Very interesting blog – thanks! We’re thinking of taking this train rather than flying, but have quite heavy cases (22kg) and not sure that I can lift them into an overhead rack. Is there anywhere that cases can be be put that doesn’t involve lifting above head height?

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    1. Hi Ros, firstly, thanks for reading!

      Alrighty, in terms of luggage:

      You can have a total of 2 carry-on bags, each not to exceed 50 lbs. (23 kg), 28 x 22 x 14 inches (700 x 550 x 350 millimeters). At Penn Station we were checked to see how many bags we had (but not the weight). I think it is because it was a full train.

      NOTE: Checked Baggage is NOT available on this particular route.

      I am not sure how many bags of approx 22kg you have, and their sizes, but the GOOD news is that I remember seeing designated baggage areas either at the front or end of the carriage. So to answer your question in short – you don’t necessarily need to put everything on the overhead area. Also, there is room at your legs and under the seat in front of you – so if you have a fairly medium case that’s heavy, it could possibly go there.

      In addition, I believe the first row of seats of the carriages seem to have a bit of leg room since there is no seat in front, so I think you could always put your luggage there if you sat in those seats. Especially to use as a footstep since I believe you don’t get one because of that seat.
      Please note that you may possibly forfeit a tray table as well unless they were folded into the sides of the seats and I didn’t see them. Also, you may risk that these are handicap spots so you may need to give up this seat to anyone on board your trip that has a disability.

      Personally, I think using the designated luggage area is the better option.

      Now, to ensure you get to the designated luggage area before it gets full, I would recommend you get to the station a little earlier. About 1-1.5 hrs earlier would be plenty.

      The BAD: From what I remember, when we boarded the train from Penn Station and Montreal, I think we had to walk down some stairs. There weren’t that many, say 20 at most at each station.
      But, when arriving there were escalator options so we didn’t need to climb any stairs with luggage.
      I thought I would note that because if you have 2 bags of 22kg, you’ll need to consider that. Again, I wasn’t sure if you are traveling solo with (x) x 22kg bags… Now I am sure there are lifts down to the platform but I didn’t use them.. but they would need to have them for the disabled patrons.

      I hope this answers your question. And I hope you haven’t been put off in any way!

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