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If you can't afford a sleeping room, even a roommette, I'd opt for the lower level which is a plus for seniors who don't want to climb stairs just to get to the bathrooms. However, there is a limited number of seats so you must make early reservations. I go from Chicago to DC and back which is usually a 17 hour trip. Since your trip is much longer, bring snacks and water so that you don't have to eat 3 meals a day in the dining car which is expensive. Maybe eat there for dinner. I'd also bring along a blanket since it gets cold at night.
However, I love train travel which allows you to move about to various sections. At least, for me, it's a lot more exciting than waiting in an airport for hours to get on a crowded plane. You can go to the observation deck for some fantastic scenery.