Plan your Travel with Pets by Train instead of Airlines

Want a getaway with your Furry friend?  A scenic train ride with your Dog or Cat is a great way to have a Pet Friendly vacation and getaway by Train with Your Pet.

So many reasons to have a getaway –You and your furry friend deserve a special, quick and scenic trip just to get away for a bit to a Pet-friendly spot for a long weekend or even the week!

Airline travel is so hard time right now.  Train travel with your Dog is a perfect alternative

Why Take a Train instead of an Airline for Pet Travel in the US?

  1. Train travel with a Dog Cost Less than flying with airlines.  The average cost to take your pup on a plane is at least another $125 and as high as $350 for a ticket. But, Amtrak trains are only $26 for your Pet’s train ticket.
  2. No long waits at the airport or having to get there 3 or 4 hours early.  You can arrive at the train station with your Pet only 30-minutes prior to departure or 45-minutes if you have luggage to check.  (Your Pet Carrier will count as a carry on.)
  3. No dog breed restrictions on Amtrak—only size. So many airlines ban snub nose (brachycephalic) Dogs. Shih Tzu, Boston Terriers, Pekingese, pugs—they’re all welcome! No breed bans on traveling with Pets on Amtrak.  All small breeds are welcome.
  4. Unlike Dogs on planes, with Dogs on Trains, you don’t have to worry about your Dog being cold and there’s no pressurization issues.  You won’t have to drag your Pet’s carrier across a huge airport’s terminal. 
  5. You can bring your small emotional support dog or cat on a train without any additional documentation.
  6. There are Dedicated Coach Cars for Pets and you’ll a lovely, scenic trip!

Digital Image by Chuck Gomez; Interior of Amfleet cars showing a customer with her dog. Pets on Trains photoshoot.
Digital Image by Chuck Gomez; Interior of Amfleet cars showing a customer with her dog. Pets on Trains photoshoot.

While almost all trains will allow you to bring your pet, there are a handful of Amtrak routes with a designated Coach car for pets.  These train routes include Amtrak Cascades, Carl Sandburg, Illinois Zephyr, Illini, Lincoln Service, Saluki, Pere Marquette, Wolverine, Blue Water, Hiawatha and Missouri River Runner.

What Pets Can Travel on Amtrak?

  1. Dogs and Cats—even snub nose and emotional support Pets
  2. Dogs and Cats up to 20 pounds
  3. Pet Carrier size: At maximum your Pet’s carrier size can be 19″ long x 14″ wide x 10.5″ high. You can find my recommendations for carriers for snub nose dogs here: Best Pet Carriers & Airlines for Pugs and Snub Nose Dogs
  4. Any route that is 7 hours or less, so there are a number of specific routes (not every route but there are many).

Backpacks make great carriers for Pet Travel on Trains
Backpacks make great carriers for Pet Travel on Trains

Backpacks are a great option for both trains and airlines. See here for our recommendations: Are Pet Backpacks Allowed on Airlines?

Amtrak Pet Policy for Traveling with Your Pet on Board a Train

  1. Book in advance!—each train has a max of 5 pets, so there will be plenty of room for each—all 5 spots are first-come, first-served basis.
  2. 1 Pet per passenger, and they may only ride in coach class (so no business class or any sleeper services).
  3. Pets travel in a pet carrier measuring no larger than 19 x 14 x 10.5 inches and must be well ventilated and leak proof. See the best carriers that fit these dimension here: Best Pet Carriers & Airlines for Pugs and Snub Nose Dogs and all breeds.
  4. The total weight of the pet inside the carrier cannot exceed 20 pounds.
  5. Pet carriers count towards a passenger’s carry-on allowance and must be placed under the passenger’s seat.
  6. You and your Pet must check-in at the ticket desk no later than 30 minutes before the train departs, to allow time to complete the pet release paperwork.
  7. Pets must be 8 weeks or older to travel on Amtrak services and be odorless and non-disruptive to other passengers.

See also, Amazon Pet Travel Finds Under $25

What Documents Do I Need to Travel by Train with my Dog or Cat?

  1. Passengers must sign a Pet Release and Indemnification Agreement for each segment of your Pet Travel by Train.  You can find the form here. But you do not have to print the form or bring it to the station. The agent or conductor will give you the form at the station.
  2. Passengers will certify that their pet is up-to-date with all required vaccinations before travel.
Amtrak in Pennsylvania Pet Friendly Train Travel
Amtrak in Pennsylvania Pet Friendly Train Travel

How to Book your Pet Travel on Amtrak

First, you can search for routes (“services”) on

Type in where you want to go with your Dog or Cat, one-way or round-trip and the dates for your travel and then click “Find Trains.”

Then you will check that the train service (route) you want to book is pet friendly. 

You can do this by clicking on “Details” and then under the service click on “Services” Underneath that click on “Add-On” and you can see “Pet”.  This shows that you can add your Dog or Cat to the booking.

Now, you know that the service/route you want allows Pets.

You select your train route, enter your personal details.

You’ll then need to select your preferred train service, seat type and option (such as Saver or Flexible), then enter your travelers details.

Then, add your Dog or Cat to the booking on the “Add-Ons” page.

Then it’s time to finalize your booking and pay for your ticket. Amtrak also lets you make your reservations via their customer call center reservation over the phone (1-800-USA-RAIL) or at staffed Amtrak stations.

The fee for traveling with a pet is currently $26 USD (or 800 Amtrak Guest Reward points) per segment. but it is much cheaper than flying with your pet.

Amtrak with Pets on Trains

Checking in with Your Pet at the Train Station

Once your arrive at the station (at least 30 minutes before and 45 minutes if you are checking a bag), go to the Amtrak ticket office.

 A ticket agent will look up your booking, check your carrier –usually, just a quick glance with your Pet inside (readers report back that the agent did not weigh or measure their Pet or carrier)

You’ll be given a Pet Release and Indemnification Agreement to sign.  You can see here for the form, but you do not have to print it or bring it to the station.

If you are traveling from an unstaffed station, speak to the conductor who will confirm your Pet’s ticket and provide you with this release form—one for each segment of travel.

Boarding the Train with Your Dog or Cat

There’s a bit of a wait from check-in to when the train platform number is announced.

Once your platform is announced, head to the train.

You can board the train.  Make sure you keep your tickets handy as a ticket inspector will come onboard and make their way seat-by-seat and ask for your tickets.

Don’t worry about finding your specific seat—you can select any seat in your car.

Be as early to board as you can because the “reserved coach” tickets, reserves you and your Pet a seat on the specific car, it does not reserve a specific seat. “Reserved” simply means you are guaranteed a seat and you get to choose your own.

Except for a few trains that have a specific cars dedicated for pets, you can sit anywhere, on any coach car (although perhaps skip the quiet car if your Pup may bark a bit).

The trains with a specific car for Pets are: Amtrak Cascades, Carl Sandburg, Illinois Zephyr, Illini, Lincoln Service, Saluki, Pere Marquette, Wolverine, Blue Water, Hiawatha and Missouri River Runner.

Once you’ve found your seat on the train, place your pet in their carrier bag underneath your seat. The seats are different than on airplanes and you’ll have a space separate from the seat in front of you.

If you choose the Amtrak Cascades trains you can have your pet carrier on the floor in front of the seat next to you where there’s a bit more room.

TIP:  Since your Pet must remain with you at all times and you can’t leave them alone, either bring your own beverages and snacks or maybe someone will go to the dining car or cafe for you.

Here are all the Pet Friendly Trains Routes for Travel with Pets on Amtrak:

EASTERN USA Amtrak Pet Friendly Train Routes:

  • Capital Limited
  • Carolinian
  • Cardinal
  • Crescent
  • Lake Shore Limited
  • Piedmont
  • Palmetto
  • Silver Star
  • Silver Meteor

Western USA Amtrak Pet Friendly Train Routes

  • Amtrak Cascades (excluding Canada)
  • California Zephyr
  • Coast Starlight
  • Southwest Chief
  • Sunset Limited
  • Texas Eagle

MidWest USA Amtrak Pet Friendly Train Routes

  • California Zephyr
  • Capitol Limited
  • Cardinal
  • City of New Orleans
  • Empire Builder
  • Hiawatha
  • Carl Sandburg
  • Illinois Zephyr
  • Saluki
  • Pere Marquette
  • Wolverine
  • Blue Water
  • Lake Shore Limited
  • Missouri River Runner
  • Southwest Chief
  • Texas Eagle

NorthEast Amtrak Pet Friendly Train Routes

  • Acela Express (Weekends and holidays)
  • Adirondack (Excluding Canada)
  • Downeaster
  • Empire Service (Excluding Canada)
  • Ethan Allen Express
  • Maple Leaf (excluding Canada)
  • Northeast Regional
  • Vermonter (Washington – Springfield)

You can plan a great pet-friendly train trip with your Dog for cheap without the hassle of airline travel. You can search for and book your Amtrak pet friendly trip at