Planning a Cross Country Amtrak Trip

The Joys of Train Travel

For those who don’t care for the stressful experience of air travel, there is another option that eliminates the need for lengthy waits in a TSA line and being packed into a tiny middle seat in an aluminum tube at 30,000 feet… Amtrak! I recently traveled on Amtrak from Washington, DC to Los Angeles, CA and back again! The journey encompassed three days each way with a short layover in Chicago, IL. On the trip out west, I rode the Capitol Limited and the Southwest Chief and for the return trip I took the California Zephyr and the Capitol Limited. The beauty of Amtrak is that you can see the country from the ground and the changing landscape throughout the journey is truly breathtaking. From the Midwestern plains to the desert in the SW, palm trees in the west and the spectacular Rocky Mountains, you get to see it all on a cross-country train ride.

Traveling in Style

Not only that, but you can choose to travel in style by booking a roomette, bedroom, family bedroom or bedroom suite! Not even domestic first-class air travel can top the sleeping accommodations on board an Amtrak cross-country train! Passengers in sleeping accommodations receive an all-inclusive experience that includes all meals and drinks throughout the journey. I’ll be writing a series of blog posts about my trip on the various trains, the accommodations, scenery, food and fares.

The process of booking train travel via Amtrak is similar to booking air travel through the major airlines, with one major exception… train ticket prices typically start out low and increase in price steadily as the date of departure approaches. Once you familiarize yourself with the Amtrak options for your desired trip, I recommend using AmSnag to easily sort and find the best deal for your trip. I’ve used this free resource to save hundreds of dollars on several trips.

But wait! Before you book that trip, make sure you sign up for Amtrak’s rewards program. I’ll be writing more about the Amtrak Guest Rewards Program soon, but in the meantime – go sign up! It’s free and they’ll even give you 500 bonus points when you travel within 90 days of joining!

Get The Best Deal

After finding the perfect combination of location, dates and price, it’s a good idea to keep an eye on the fare as it may suddenly drop without warning. Amtrak allows you to modify your trip or get a refund on the price drop! In order to keep track of price changes on the Amtrak travel that I book, I use Amtrak Fare Watcher to alert me the moment a price change is made on the Amtrak website. After getting the alert, I can either call Amtrak to get a refund on the price change, or login to the Amtrak website to make the change myself. On my last journey, this free service saved me over $400 on a sudden price change a couple of weeks before my trip!

Stay tuned for more posts on Shauner dot Com about Amtrak in the coming weeks!

One comment

Leave a Reply