The US of A is a great place to be if you are a railfan. While many of their railways can’t truly compare to some of the gems in Europe, they are still a marvelous way of getting around the states for tourists. When compared to other modes of transportation, the best option, by far, seems to be to travel using Amtrak and I’m going to give you a few tips on how to make the most of it. With a few preemptive measures and willingness to disregard the rough edges, it can be reliable and enjoyable.
If you’ve ever used a train for sightseeing before, you know there is something to be said about railway passes. In the long run, they save you a lot of money and trouble, especially over long distances. There is no sense in buying individual tickets for those, now is there? Granted, there are plenty of promotional tickets you can take advantage of if you are staying in the US for several months.
You can get an Amtrak rail pass from the official website, where you will be asked to give your details, the starting date of your journey when you want to pick up your card and a few others while processing your payment and informing you of the working hours of the ticket office that is the closest to your starting point. Adults can go on 8 rides or segments within 15 days for $459, 12 rides over 30 days for $689.00, or 18 rides over 45 days for $899.00. Plan accordingly.
Explore the Train
Depending on the route you take, there are likely going to be a few options in terms of exploring your train and enjoying it as well as the scenery. The dining car, the bar car, and the dome car all offer unique experiences when they are available. Remember that you are there for the experience and not the food and drinks. Having a drink or a meal with a fellow passenger is a worthwhile adventure in its own right.
Don’t Be in a Rush
Here’s the thing – if you want the safest and the fastest way to travel, book a plain. If you want to save some money and don’t mind the discomfort, drive. If you want to relax and take it all in, knowing full well that there are going to be unexpected delays and loving every minute of them, take the train. Amtrak shares some of its rails with trains that have the right of way, so there are going to be a few of those. If you are comfortable with that, you’re in for the ride of your life.
Last, but by no means least, be prepared. Book as early as you can – the sooner you are booked the sooner you can start your journey when you originally planned. Download the Amtrak app, it’s a must. Consider printing your ticket yourself. It is, all things considered, more reliable than depending on the ticket office. Pack as if you are planning the beaches one day and the mountains the next, as it is not just your destination that matters, but the trip as well. Bring a photo ID because it is necessary for checking your luggage and a few other things. Manage your expectations. And, most importantly, have fun.