Amtrak’s USA Rail Pass 101
Even though I haven't taken time to explain it, behind all these blog posts and Instagrams and bike tours is an engine powering this: Amtrak's USA Rail Pass. So if you're an adventurous soul and you're interested in making your own cross country journey, read on and I'll explain how to purchase and use Amtrak’s USA Rail Pass.
Amtrak offers three rail pass options: 15 days with up to 8 segments, 30 days with up to 12 segments or 45 says with up to 18 segments (like all travel, prices may vary, so check Amtrak.com for specifics). This might be confusing at first, so let me explain how this works. The days are counted consecutively, and the clock starts ticking with the first travel segment. Amtrak counts a travel segment as anytime a rider gets on and off the train. For example, I purchased a 45 day USA Rail Pass. What this means is that if I travel on the Sunset Limited from San Antonio to Los Angeles, get off and explore Los Angeles, then take the Coast Starlight and to Seattle I have used 2 of my 18 segments.
After you purchase your USA Rail Pass, you need to reserve your seats and pick up all of your tickets at an Amtrak staffed station before you embark on your first train ride on your journey (which can be ordered online, but must be picked up in person). I would recommend booking your USA Rail Pass ticket and reserving your seats as far in advance as possible to avoid sold out trains or additional costs.
The USA Rail Pass entitles riders to one coach seat. However, if you want to upgrade to business class or for one of their sleeping accommodation options, you can with an additional charge. If you are interested in doing this, just ask when you reserve your pass.
I think one of the best parts about Amtrak’s USA Rail Pass is that once purchase your USA Rail Pass on Amtrak.com, you have one year to exchange it for a paper USA Rail Pass and begin travel, and 330 days to complete your travel once you're issued a paper US rail pass. This means that I don’t feel rushed on my adventure and I can take as long as I want exploring the country without worrying about my tickets expiring.
The USA Rail Pass is also available for children and would be a fun family adventure. Amtrak also offers a special discount for children -- adults can travel with up to two children ages 2-12 years old at half price.
If I you are interested in having your own amazing and unforgettable adventure, head here for more details about Amtrak’s USA Rail Pass.