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How To Move Cheap Using Amtrak

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Did you know that you can use Amtrak to move? People looking to move on a budget can save big by using Amtrak. It’s not as convenient as other forms of moving, but the price savings can be well worth it.

First and foremost, if you have any additional questions or need clarification, you should contact Amtrak directly by calling: 1-800-377-6914.

Is there a limit to what I can ship?

Yes. There are a few restrictions that you’ll need to keep in mind:

  • Furniture
  • Electronics
  • Fragile goods

They do not ship electronics for security reasons, no point in trying to test this one. However, when it comes to fragile goods or furniture many people online have suggested that this isn’t necessarily checked by Amtrak. The key here is that Amtrak does not accept odd shaped boxes or to be extra sensitive to electronic equipment.

It should be noted that Amtrak can ship your bicycle.

Amtrak also has a few item restrictions such as:

  • Box should not be larger than 3ft x 3ft x 3ft
  • Each box should not weigh over 50 lbs
  • Nothing perishable, nothing fragile

Amtrak does allow for larger/heavier boxes to be shipped, but you will need to call 1-800-377-6914 to determine if the nearest Amtrak station is a “heavy station.”

Amtrak also has a few logistics restrictions:

  • 500 lbs per day
    • If you have more than 500 lbs, you can break it up over multiple days
  • You have 2 days to pick it up, once it has arrive at the destination
  • Amtrak will hold on to your package (if you can’t pick it up in 2 days) for $3 a box per day

How do I box my stuff?

Buy quality boxes from somewhere like Home Depot. Remember, it’s easiest if you buy boxes no larger than 3ft x 3ft x 3ft.

Be sure to label each box with your name / address / phone. If you’re feeling extra diligent, place a note with your name / address / phone within the box as well.

It’s recommend to wrap the contents of your box. The idea is to assume that your package may be in the rain at some point (although Amtrak doesn’t set your stuff out in the rain, but there is a loading process). This can be done with trash bags inside the box.

Pro Tip: Take pictures of your boxes with Amtrak-specific luggage tags on them.

How much does it cost?

$49 for the first 100 lbs, $0.46 per pound for every pound over 100 lbs.

Layman’s Terms: If you’re shipping 150 lbs, it will cost you $49 for the first 100 lbs. Plus an additional $0.46 for the remaining 50 lbs for an additional $23, for a grand total of $72.

Note: this will vary from location to location, but the price should be close to the approximation above.

 

Does Amtrak provide insurance?

Amtrak provides optional insurance. $1 provides up to $100 worth of coverage, up to $2000.

How do I get my stuff to and from the Amtrak station?

The one drawback about shipping with Amtrak is that you must get your stuff to and from the Amtrak station. Use Dolly or U-Haul to get your stuff to and from the station.

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What are the advantages / disadvantages of moving with Amtrak?

Advantages

  • Low price
  • Flexible/affordable storage
  • Fast transportation

Disadvantages

  • Cannot ship fragile or electronic goods
  • Might need to make multiple trips
  • Find own transportation to/from station

What are people saying about this experience?

We found all positive stories around Amtrak and the entire experience:

  • “I highly recommend using Amtrak” — nbaseman (MetaFilter)
  • “It turned out perfectly” — jabes (MetaFilter)

Moving with Amtrak Checklist

  1. Get boxes (3ft x 3ft x 3ft max-size)
  2. Wrap the contents of each box
  3. Place a note with your name / address / phone in each box
  4. Label each box with your name / address / phone
  5. Review the breakdown of how much weight you can ship
  6. Call your local Amtrak station asking for best place to come with boxes
  7. Decide if you want insurance
  8. Use your own vehicle or Dolly or U-Haul to get your boxes to the station
  9. Take photos of your boxes with Amtrak’s luggage tags on them
  10. Coordinate a pick up at your destination or pay $3 per box per day

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