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Here’s How To See The Entire United States For Under $200

lake tahoe amtrak

Do you dream of seeing the entire U.S.? Well, with a $193 train ticket that lets you travel from coast to coast, you’re running out of excuses not to. Whether you worry about steep airline fare or you can’t stomach the idea of being trapped behind the wheel of your VW bug, you’re in for a treat with Amtrak.

Here’s what you can expect from a train journey across the United States:

 

Observation lounge car 

The windows wrap from floor to ceiling, allowing you to have panoramic views during your travels.

Amtrak observation carHitchster/flickr

Insanely incredible views

From the first leg of your journey where the train is a mere foot from the Pacific Ocean, to the views of the red rocks of the American Wild West, all the way to New York City’s iconic Penn Station, your eyes will feast on the diverse beauties of the United States.

Bereau of Land Management/flickr

Meet interesting people

Whether you’re seated together at dinner or taking in the views together, there are always opportunities to have conversations with people from all over. (But if you’d like some me-time, you always have the option to put those headphones on — the international symbol of “do not disturb.”)

Amtrak dining carPrayitno/flickr

Take time slow

Train travel is a time to breathe and recollect. You’ll be separated from many of the cares of life and given the gift of time. It’s yours to fill (or not fill) as you please.

train track amtrak forest

 

How To Plan Your Train Trip

Use the Amtrak websites to view routes and plan your trip. You can either use their trip planner or just fill in your first and last stop to have them build the trip for you.

Amtrak Routes

Stopovers

If you plan to make stopovers, you’ll need to buy separate train tickets for each leg of the journey. You should note: taking stopovers does increase the cost of your train ticket, however, it’s worth it to get out and experience the cities you’re driving through. It would be shame to ride through cities like Salt Lake and Chicago without actually experiencing them.

How to buy tickets

The Amtrak website makes planning your trip and purchasing your tickets simple.

amtrak website buy tickets

Food

The trains are outfitted with dining cars which means you don’t have to stop your journey to eat (like you would if you were driving), it’s integrated right in. If you want an idea of what to expect from your Amtrak dining experience, read this article.

amtrak foodTed Eytan/flickr

Something to note:

-On the train, seating in the dining car is limited. This means you may be seated with strangers for dinner — which could lead to at best a meeting of kismet and at worst an interesting story to tell during your next meal.

Sleeping

While sleeper cabins don’t have much more than a bed, they do allow you to lay flat and have privacy while you sleep.

Alternately, you can also sleep in the passenger seats. While they don’t go entirely horizontal, they are reclinable and are more spacious than the average economy airplane seat.

amtrak bed sleeping roomPatrick Pelletier/flickr

Baggage

Included in your ticket is the cost of two personal items (14x11x7 and up to 25 lb) and two carry-on items (28x22x14 up to 50 lb). You can also check two bags free of charge (up to 50 lb and 75 linear inches each). Each passenger may check an extra two pieces of baggage for $20 per bag.

We recommend using the NOMATIC 40L Travel Bag and NOMATIC 30L Travel Bag for train travel. Their size and build fit perfectly in train compartments and the excellent organization system ensures you keep everything tidy and accessible in your reduced living space.