When it comes to moving, you probably imagine moving companies, cardboard boxes, or rented trucks. But did you know that you can use Amtrak to move? People looking to move on a budget can save big by using Amtrak to ship your stuff instead of hauling it yourself. It’s not as convenient as other forms of moving, but the price savings can be well worth it.
The Basics of Moving with Amtrak
Is there a limit to what I can ship?
Yes. There are a few restricted items that you won’t be able to move through Amtrak:
- Fragile goods
Amtrak won’t 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 and aren’t always on the lookout for electronic equipment.
If you’re a biker, you’re in luck. Amtrak can ship your bicycle. You’ll either have to pack it in a box before bringing it to the Amtrak station, or you can buy a box and package your bike at the station (but make sure to call the station beforehand to ensure they have bike boxes in stock!).
Amtrak also has a few item restrictions on size and weight:
- Boxes should not be larger than 3ft x 3ft x 3ft
- Each box should not weigh over 50 pounds
- Nothing perishable, nothing fragile
Amtrak does allow for some larger or 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.” Only so-called heavy stations will take boxes over 50 pounds or outside of their 3’x3′ dimensions.
Amtrak also has a few logistics restrictions:
- 500 pounds maximum per day
- You have 2 days to pick up your items once they’ve arrived at their 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 to move it with Amtrak?
Buy quality boxes from somewhere like the Home Depot, which offers them for a low price and in multiple sizes. 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, and phone number. If you’re feeling extra diligent, place a note with your contact information within the box as well.
It’s recommend to wrap the contents inside the box. The idea is to assume that your package may be in the rain at some point (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, and Amtrak allows you to buy insurance per box of 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. Get your stuff to the station with Dolly. Post a Dolly and we’ll connect you with a local pickup truck owner who’s ready to help haul and move your stuff to the local Amtrak station.
What are the advantages / disadvantages of moving with Amtrak?
Moving with Amtrak Checklist
Ready to get moving with Amtrak? Here’s your to-do list:
- Get boxes (3ft x 3ft x 3ft max-size)
- Wrap the contents of each box
- Place a note with your name / address / phone in each box
- Label each box with your name / address / phone
- Review the breakdown of how much weight you can ship
- Call your local Amtrak station asking for best place to come with boxes
- Decide if you want insurance
- Use your own vehicle or Dolly to get your boxes to the station
- Take photos of your boxes with Amtrak’s luggage tags on them
- Coordinate a pick up at your destination or pay $3 per box per day
If you have any additional questions or need clarification on how to use Amtrak to move, try contacting Amtrak directly by calling 1-800-377-6914 or reaching out through Twitter.