If you're looking for a cheap way to travel across the country this summer or even just get away for a few weekends, you might consider the option to travel by train with an AMTRAK USA Rail Pass. This pass provides opportunities to book up to 10 different AMTRAK travel segments over 30 days, so you can use the pass to travel to different national parks, visit family several states away or even just go sightseeing as you desire. Until the sale ends 6/22, you can get access to all the benefits for just $299 per pass. Here's what you need to know about the USA Rail Pass experience to decide whether to take advantage while it's on sale.
What's the USA Rail Pass?
When you purchase an AMTRAK USA Rail Pass, you get the ability to schedule as many as 10 travel segments to fit your travel needs, and a travel segment refers to when you hop on and hop off a train. This could mean completing a shorter route where you'll get off and stay somewhere overnight or longer. On the other hand, using a segment could also mean just taking a connecting train on the way to another destination far away.
You schedule the 10 segments after you purchase the pass, and they all must be within 30 days from when you start the first segment. However, you can make changes to scheduled segments as long as you're within the 30-day period and do so before departure.
Once you board the train, this AMTRAK pass will give you access to coach seating where you'll have a comfortable seat that lets you get get a good view of the scenery during your travel and also works for sleeping if necessary. However, you won't have access to upgrades for a private sleeper car or business class seating. While some amenities can vary by train, you'll usually have electrical outlets to charge your gadgets plus a tray to place things on, and you could also have access to wireless internet on your journeys. You'll also have options to get meals and snacks.
Where Can You Go?
You'll be able to choose from around 500 destination options in the U.S. This means a lot of variety for your trip planning since AMTRAK has stations in most states. You'll find routes that can get you to most major cities such as New York City, New Orleans, Los Angeles, Orlando and Chicago. The AMTRAK routes page allows you to explore all your options.
You can book stops near tourist attractions that interest you and hop on the next train quickly to another destination if you'd like. On the other hand, you have the flexibility to plan to lengthen your stay at a particular stop by getting a hotel or Airbnb or even camping and then taking off in the days ahead.
Consider also: Is an Airbnb Stay in Your Travel Plans?
When planning your trip, know that AMTRAK does have some restrictions on the types of service, fares and routes that qualify with this pass. For example, you can just use it on fares marked as "Value" or "Saver," and you won't be able to use certain premium train services such as the Auto Train or Acela. There are also limits on how many times you can travel between the same stations. So, this likely won't be a good option if you plan to take trips each weekend to the same place.
Save With an AMTRAK Rail Pass
Both the flexibility offered with the USA Rail Pass plus the potential cost savings versus booking train trips separately can make taking advantage of this option worth it. This is especially true if you buy it while it's on sale through 6/22 for $299 versus the usual $499 price. When thinking about buying the pass, know you don't have to take off right away since you have a 120-day period after you buy the pass to take advantage of its benefits. Just remember that once you start your first segment, you have 30 days to use the remainder of your pass benefits.
To get your AMTRAK USA Rail Pass, you can visit the passes page and click the "Purchase USA Rail Pass" button. You'll then go through a series of purchase pages where you get the chance to make an AMTRAK Guest Rewards account, enter information for travelers and pay for your passes.
After you complete the purchase, you'll be able to use the AMTRAK website to research route options and select your segments on the dates you desire. You can take advantage of the AMTRAK Vacations website for tips on planning a great trip.
Consider also: How to Financially Plan for a Vacation