//On the right track
An Amtrak train sits at the station. Photo by Carrie Sass

On the right track

On the right track

Cody Kimball


Sunlight bursts forth over a field of autumn crops as a family of white tailed deer pause to take notice of the spectacle flying past them, as an eagle soars overhead. This poignant piece of America is all seen from the comfort of the seat of my 6 a.m. Amtrak train to Chicago.

This was my first time on a train, and even with years of travel experience, had no idea what to expect.

 An Amtrak train sits at the station. Photo by Carrie Sass
An Amtrak train sits at the station. Photo by Carrie Sass

As a first timer, I can say it was one of the best travel experiences I’ve ever had, and even more importantly, it was also one of the most inexpensive.  My round trip ticket to East Lansing cost just $18.

The train departs from Port Huron daily and has stops in many major Michigan cities on its way to Chicago, including Flint, East Lansing, and Kalamazoo. Be sure to arrive at the station at least half an hour early, to make sure you get a parking space at the station and have your tickets in order.

Tickets can be purchased online or at the station window, but be sure you know what your station’s operating hours are.

The fact that the train makes stops in the vicinity of universities, like Michigan State University and Western Michigan University lends to its convenience for students who travel from home to school frequently. There are also available student discounts.

The train is, compared to many other forms of travel, really quite luxurious. The seats are much wider than the kind you could expect on an airplane, and for those of us who are taller, the ample leg room is greatly appreciated. The windows are large, the aisle is wide enough to walk down comfortably, and there is even a power outlet on the walls beside the seats to power electronics. In the rear of the train a snack car can be reached to grab an early morning breakfast or a snack along the trip.

From Port Huron to East Lansing, my trip lasted less than 2 and a half hours, which is comparable to driving it on the highway, but the amount of safety, lack of stress, and price of gas made the train the better alternative.

The train should not be overlooked for day trips. Many of the passengers were using it as an easier way to travel to Chicago, or some of the other destinations along the route, with the intention of boarding the return train that night or the following day.

Give the train a try next time you want a unique way to get out of town for a while. You may surprise yourself. It could be the inexpensive travel tool you’ve been missing.