October 27th, 2011

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Advance Planning

We're taking the train to Chicon 7 next August, and using the pile of Amtrak Guest Rewards points to buy bedrooms out and back. Because sleepers book up way in advance, particularly on one leg of the trip we're taking when there is only one through sleeper (and thus only five bedrooms), I booked the trip now, only a few days after the trains went on sale. (You can only book 11 months in advance. Contrast this with Japan, where you can only book sleepers a month in advance, and must do so in person at a station.)

You can't book AGR sleeper travel online; you have to call and speak to an agent, which I did this morning. We're going out on the California Zephyr and back on the Texas Eagle, the return trip of which has the most nights on board of any Amtrak train.

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I still have to book the hotel nights using points from Holiday Inn and Hilton, but those are a bit less constrained than the train nights. Because we're starting the trip at a staffed station, we can wait to pick up the tickets until the day of travel (probably the night before, when we get to Emeryville), and that's good because if we have to make any changes, we won't have to send the tickets back; also, we don't have to worry about losing the tickets over the next year, which was a real concern of mine on the Montreal trip. I'm glad to get that booking out of the way.