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Rail Pass across the States

Honolulu, Hawaii...
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Rail Pass across the States

I have been thinking about seeing the US by train. I saw on the Amtrak website that a 45 day rail pass costs about $829 and includes 18 segments, each segment is from one city to another. By my calculation that means I could see about 18 cities with about two or three days per city.

I want to start in California and steadily make my way East. This is just a rough draft itinerary of the cities I would like to see.

1. Sacramento to Salt Lake City

2. Salt Lake City to Denver

3. Denver to Chicago

4. Chicago to St. Louis

5. St. Louis to Dallas

6. Dallas to San Antonio

7. San Antonio to New Orleans

8. New Orleans to Atlanta

9. Atlanta to Washington DC

10. Washington DC to Boston

11. Boston to New York City

12. NYC to Philadelphia

13. Philadelphia to Cincinnati

14. Cincinnati to Chicago

15. Chicago to Denver

16. Denver to Albuquerque

17. Albuquerque to Los Angeles


I think my budget will be about $5,000 ($800 a week)

Any advice or suggestions?

Daydream Island...
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1. Re: Rail Pass across the States

I think that would be a fantastic way to move across around the country and see a lot. The two or three days in each stop should allow you plenty of time to see the sites and keep it relaxed. Do your research on the things you want to see in each stop and enjoy this trip. It sounds great !

Quainton, United...
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2. Re: Rail Pass across the States

It's a fabulous way to travel - but remember you still need a reservation on a train before boarding even when using a pass, and remember that passholder reservations are controlled by a quota that I believe is set to zero as soon as any train becomes 75% full.

In other words, even if a train has seats left, they may only be for people payimng cash, passholders not allowed on! In summer, this can make using a passs flexibly on trans-continental trains a bit problematical, as trains are often full or nearly full, so no passholders allowed.

Of course, you could buy the pass and make all the reservations you need to go with it in advance - but check the cost against the cost of regular advance-purchase tickets bought online at www.amtrak.com using the multi-city booking facility.

Edited: 24 April 2012, 08:14
Bucks County...
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3. Re: Rail Pass across the States

Your itinerary looks great, except for Cincinnati. Not much to see there. Maybe you mean Cleveland (Rock N Roll Hall of Fame)? That would be a different train, and possibly rearranging your schedule a bit.

Most trains sell out, so you will need to make all of your reservations well in advance. You won't need reservations in the Washington-Baltimore-Philadelphia-NYC-Boston corridor. Those inter-city trains run very frequently.

Edited: 24 April 2012, 11:21
New Hampshire
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4. Re: Rail Pass across the States

I've gone cross country on Amtrak a few times, it is a lot of fun.

You do need seat reservations (!) in the Boston-NYC-Philadelphia-Washington corridor, but there are plenty of trains, so you're bound to get a seat on one of them.

I don't get Sacremento, unless you have to start there for some reason. San Francisco is preferred.

Just be sure to check WHEN the train arrives at your preferred stopping point. I didn't check each and every leg you have but some of them are bound to get in the middle of the night. Also, the trains can be very late at times.

It's a great way to travel, we always meet interesting people to talk to from all over the world.

Honolulu, Hawaii...
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5. Re: Rail Pass across the States

Oh yeah, Cleveland Rocks! (Not Cincinnati)

I will definitely make my reservations in advance and then plan my days around my train schedule.

I'm a college student so I wanted to get one of those student advantage cards, I think it costs like $20. I'm wondering if the card will work towards my rail pass and if it will work for my train reservations.

If I have the rail pass, do I still pay for my reservations? How much?

I have been playing with my rough draft itinerary to add Cleveland and exclude Cincinnati. And I also squeezed in Kansas City and Memphis.

1. Los Angeles to Albuquerque

2. Albuquerque to Kansas City

3. Kansas City to St. Louis

4. St. Louis to Dallas

5. Dallas to San Antonio

6. San Antonio to New Orleans

7. New Orleans to Atlanta

8. Atlanta to Washington DC

9. Washington DC to Boston

10. Boston to Philadelphia

11. Philadelphia to New York City

12. New York City to Cleveland

13. Cleveland to Chicago

14. Chicago to Memphis

15. Memphis to Chicago

16. Chicago to Denver

17. Denver to Salt Lake City

18. Salt Lake City to Sacramento


I wish I could go through a new city each time but it's hard to avoid Chicago since it seems to be a major hub in getting to other cities. That's fine. I love Chicago!

Honolulu, Hawaii...
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6. Re: Rail Pass across the States

Yes, Sacramento would just be a starting or maybe ending point. But San Francisco is close enough.

I would actually prefer night trains so I can save on lodging and have more free days to do stuff.

7. Re: Rail Pass across the States

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