Three Heel Clicks

Travel Guide: Riding the Amtrak

Fashion, Style, Travel, PackingCrystal JacksonComment

It's been on my list of things to do for a while. I've ridden subways, European trains, a Greyhound bus and commuter rails yet never made it to riding the Amtrak. When I was invited to join a group at Big Bend this year I knew it would be difficult to take an entire week off from work. After learning that the Amtrak travels from Houston to Alpine, TX overnight I jumped at the opportunity. Although it was a fairly easy way to travel across Texas, there were definitely a few things I wished I had known prior to traveling. 

You can only check luggage to certain destinations

Thinking it would be just like a plane flight, I brought with me a backpack, duffel bag and small suitcase (carry-on size). I read through all of the terms and conditions and thought I was in the clear. It said two carry-ons and two checked bags. When I arrived at the station I was notified that Alpine, TX was an unmanned station and I couldn't check bags. I quickly scurried to shift items down to two pieces of luggage. After boarding the train I discovered I could take two carry-ons and two personal items. Therefore, no need to rearrange. My duffle bag and backpack would have been fine to bring on board and store in the overhead and I could store my carry-on suitcase near the exit of the train like you would on a bus. Oh well, I ended up traveling lighter.

They also do not weigh your luggage when getting on board. There are no metal detectors or TSA so boarding was quick and easy. Soon, I was on the train and ready for the overnight trip beginning at 8pm and arriving at 10am the next day. I would recommend bringing a book or something that doesn't require internet. When you are traveling across country there are many areas without cell service.

Trains Have Layovers

Or you could say a trainover. We stopped in San Antonio at midnight right smack dab in the middle of the city for a three hour layover. It was actually a nice break and allowed a few hours to grab something to eat or drink. The train uses that time to service the cabins so getting out to stretch my legs before the bulk of the ride was perfect. You just have to make it back to the station about thirty minutes to departure. 

Dining Options are Limited

The Amtrak has three meal times and a VERY limited menu. I tried their salad and salmon for dinner and they do serve beer and wine. Honestly, the experience was fun, but the salmon was dry. Also, expect to pay $20 a plate for dinner. Not the greatest pricing for the quality of the food, but it was fun to get to have dinner shortly after boarding. The next morning I arose very hungry and tried their continental breakfast. For about $10 I had yogurt, oatmeal, fresh fruit and coffee. Oh yes, and a croissant. Breakfast was really tasty and I'd recommend it on a future train ride. 

Although the options are limited, you can bring your own meals on the train. Given you can also bring two personal items, and two carry-ons it would be easy to pack to go meals and snacks. The Amtrak actually recommends that anyone who has blood sugar issues or medical conditions bring enough food for the trip in the event something happened. The kitchen is only open during certain window throughout the day, so if you snooze, you lose.

Have an Overnight Outfit

I wore this suede jacket, jeans and boot combination until after we departed San Antonio. It was great to have a casual but stylish outfit during the trainover where I toured a few spots downtown in San Antonio. Once I arrived back at the train, I grabbed my backpack and headed to one of the dressing rooms. They have bathrooms and larger dressing rooms for you to change in. By the way, even the regular bathrooms are MUCH larger than being on a plane. I slept in my athleisure outfit in a reclining seat with a footrest.  You have more room on the train than a plane and it's pretty quiet at night. Perfect for you to get a decent amount of sleep. Many of the passengers brought pillows on board and next time I'd do the same. 

There are Multiple Cars

On the cross country trains there are many places to sit besides your seat. First of all, they have the dining and bar cars where you can eat or order a glass of wine. They also have a social car where you have a place with tables to play cards, games, use your laptop or what not. There is also a viewing car where you can sit in comfortable seats to see the sunrise or landscape as you ride. All of the passengers I came into contact with were so kind and friendly. It was fun to share a few stories and find out where they were coming from and going. 

All in all, the trip was well worth the money. It cost about $100 for a one way ticket to go from one side of Texas to the other. If I had driven that distance I would have spent about the same on gas and it's only a couple hours shorter to drive. The train allowed me to sit back and relax. I'm definitely planning on doing more trips utilizing the Amtrak. I've thought about flying into a city and taking the train across a few states to another city to see more of the U.S. 

If you've experienced trains I'd like to know more about tips, tricks or recommendations?


Shop the Look:

If you like this post, then check these out:

Spring Bucket List: Have a Picnic

Fashion, Style, Photography, LifestyleCrystal JacksonComment
Three Heel Clicks - Have A Picnic (3).jpg

Being an avid list maker, every season I try to make a point to list out my season "bucket list." It started a few years ago by simply scribbling on a notepad and then posting to Instagram but has developed into a much more robust system. I can't say I've crossed everything off every single season, but I usually make it to 75% of what I set out to do. There's something about putting your goals on paper that brings them to fruition.

First up for Spring (although we are still a day away), was to have a picnic in the park. I've always been one to love picnics. After finding this picnic basket at an antique shop last year, I've been awaiting to take it out for a spin. Picnics don't have to be an ordeal. All you have to do is pack a few items in containers, grab some bottled drinks and a blanket. I opted to bring carrots and hummus, a delicious egg and spinach salad with La Croix sparkling water to drink. It was a light but yummy lunch! I keep paperplates, napkins and plastic silverware on hand at all times in the basket for easy grab and go. Finally, you'll want to use a blanket. I've found in the past tablecloths work excellent and if the ground is wet you can easily add a plastic shower curtain underneath for protection. This is my go to for every beach picnic. 

Here are a few other things on this Spring's Bucket List:

  • Visit the lavender fields in Blanco, TX.

  • Tour the Shiner Brewery in Shiner, TX.

  • Float the Guadalupe with a group of friends from college.

  • Bake macaroons in pastel colors.

  • Hike in Big Bend and go camping.

For this post I had a picnic in the Heights on Heights Blvd. The trees were just starting to bloom and although it was a little cloudy outside the weather was perfect. Gingham is the perfect picnic print and my love for the pattern runs deep (see here, here and here). I especially like this dress I picked up in today's post from Amazon. It has the sweetest hankerchief hemline and just the right fit in the bodice. I liked it so much I picked it up in red, too! Although you can't see from the photo, I paired it with a pair of gingham flats and a navy cross body I've worn numerous times. 

What are some of the things on your bucket list?

Shop the Post:

If you like this post, then check these out:

Bell Sleeve

Fashion, Houston, Inspiration, StyleCrystal JacksonComment
Dress: Old Navy // Shoes: Kenneth Cole // Hat: San Diego Hat Company // Purse: Amazon

Hope you guys all had a great weekend! I'm gearing up to spend the latter part of this week in Big Bend camping, hiking and spending as much time outdoors as possible. I can't wait to share about the trip with you guys since it's been on my bucket list for years now. In the meantime though, I thought this outfit worn a few weeks ago is a perfect transition into Spring.

These loafers are perfect for this time of year. A blocked heel loafer is a great alternative to a pump for work. Although I rarely wear much black, I realized it was a color lacking in my shoes. With over a hundred pairs, I only had one that was work appropriate. Needless to say, I decided to scoop these up immediately. They worked perfectly with this floral dress and are pretty comfortable to be in all day. 

This hat was one I found two years ago at a Whole Foods here in Houston. I can't tell you how much I've worn it for Spring and Summers. It's made by one of my favorite hat companies named San Diego Hat Company. They have great products and usually are at an affordable price. Hats are such a great way to accessorize if you are not a huge jewelry person. You can check out a few of my other hat looks on this page.

Shop the Post:

If you like this post, then check these out: