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Amtrak travel... cheapest options.


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#1 Guest_James_*

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Posted 01 December 2013 - 06:43 PM

Hello Amtrak Forums,

 

I'm just getting in touch because I will be travelling with a friend around the US for a couple months, from Febuary - April (around 35 days). We'll be starting our journey in New York, heading down to New Orelans via Nashville, then heading across the south to California and then finally back to NYC to fly back home.

 

I was just wondering if anyone can advise me on the most cost-effective pass or ticket we could use to get around? I have looked at a couple options on the website...

 

The 15 day pass is obviously cheapest, but am I right in thinking if you purchase this ticket all travel has to be completed in 15 CONSECUTIVE days? We are planning on moving around about once every 2 weeks, so perhaps this wouldn't be the best option for us...

 

Would our cheapest option be to just purchase individual tickets every time we want to travel? Or would it most likely be cheaper just to bite the bullet and buy a 30-day pass?

 

Any help greatly appreciated.

 

Thanks

 

James

 

 

 



#2 ALC Rail Writer

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Posted 01 December 2013 - 07:33 PM

The 30-day rail pass will most likely be cheaper than travelling the segments you listed by coach. Yes, those are consecutive days.


Amtrak Routes Travelled: Capitol Limited (x12s), Northeast Regional (x10), Pennsylvanian (x10), Empire Builder (x6), Cascades (x4), Empire Service (2), Acela Express (3), New Haven Shuttle (2), Vermonter (1), Lake Shore Limited (x3), Lincoln Service (3), Coast Starlight (x2), California Zephyr(1), Capitol Corridor(1), Southwest Chief (1), Missouri River Runner (1), Downeaster (2), Crescent (2)
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#3 MrFSS

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Posted 01 December 2013 - 07:38 PM

You can't take the train to Nashville as that city has no Amtrak service.

#4 gmushial

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Posted 01 December 2013 - 08:04 PM

You might use AmSnag.com and price out the various segments - generally one can deduce low-bucket prices from there; and then compare those prices vs the 30 day pass. If you're only going to be moving every couple of weeks, low-bucket fares just might be cheaper.



#5 tomfuller

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Posted 01 December 2013 - 09:07 PM

Which cities served by Amtrak do you want to visit? How many nights can you tolerate sleeping in coach?

My thought starting from New York - NYP to WAS (Stay a night?) WAS to Chicago overnight on the Capitol Limited. Spend a few hours in Chicago (daylight). Take the City of New Orleans overnight (leaves 8PM) to Memphis. Rent a car in Memphis to go to Nashville Spend several days and then head back to Memphis for the CONO on to New Orleans. The Sunset Limited leaves NOL 3 days a week with a final destination of Los Angeles. Whether to break the trip for 2 or 3 days in Texas or southern New Mexico is up to you. Rent a car to see what you want in southern California.

If you still have time take the Coast Starlight north to Emeryville to get to see San Francisco. Fly back to Chicago and then take the Lake Shore Limited back to New York.



#6 Guest_Nathanael_*

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Posted 02 December 2013 - 02:30 AM

Hello Amtrak Forums,
 
I'm just getting in touch because I will be travelling with a friend around the US for a couple months, from Febuary - April (around 35 days). We'll be starting our journey in New York, heading down to New Orelans via Nashville, then heading across the south to California and then finally back to NYC to fly back home.

You can't get to Nashville on Amtrak. As a result, you can't really use Amtrak to "head down to New Orleans via Nashville". Furthermore, going from New Orleans to California, the train only runs three times a week.

The first thing to do is to figure out how much of your trip you can actually do by train; that'll give you a better clue as to whether to get a rail pass or just try to buy individual tickets. If you're unlucky, it may be that you can't actually use a train for more than 15 out of your 35 days. Now, California to New York, that you can actually do by train any day of the week (it's 3 nights).

#7 SubwayNut

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Posted 02 December 2013 - 11:06 AM

Amtrak (except for the passes that are a certain number of segments per pass but not overall days) does point-to-point fares that fluctuate depending upon demand.

 

I've gone from New York to New Orleans via Nashville but only via Amtrak for the first and last legs: (Full TripReport on my blog)

 

Started on a NE Regional NYP-WAS (to keep my sanity before an overnight bus ride)

MegaBus Washington, DC to Knoxville 

A morning layover in Knoxville before continuing to Chattanooga on MegaBus (No through buses)

2 Nights at the really nice Chattanooga Crash Pad (highly recommended)

Greyhound to Nashville

2 Nights in Nashville ()

Greyhound to Memphis

2 Nights in Memphis (the Pilgrims Hostel)

Amtrak (finally again, it was great to be back on a train) Memphis to New Orleans


Check out my website SubwayNut.com decidated to pictures of subway, light rail and railroad stations including nearly 200 that Amtrak stop at!


#8 abcnews

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Posted 02 December 2013 - 02:24 PM

Which cities served by Amtrak do you want to visit? How many nights can you tolerate sleeping in coach?

My thought starting from New York - NYP to WAS (Stay a night?) WAS to Chicago overnight on the Capitol Limited. Spend a few hours in Chicago (daylight). Take the City of New Orleans overnight (leaves 8PM) to Memphis. Rent a car in Memphis to go to Nashville Spend several days and then head back to Memphis for the CONO on to New Orleans. The Sunset Limited leaves NOL 3 days a week with a final destination of Los Angeles. Whether to break the trip for 2 or 3 days in Texas or southern New Mexico is up to you. Rent a car to see what you want in southern California.

If you still have time take the Coast Starlight north to Emeryville to get to see San Francisco. Fly back to Chicago and then take the Lake Shore Limited back to New York.

Read that….  Excellent ideas… The Capital Limited is a train from Washington to Chicago, and it usually has some affordable rooms (good value on some travel dates). Same for the CONO (The City of New Orleans train - from Chicago to Memphis). Also - a free day in Chicago. Excellent value, see downtown Chicago and the beatiful architecture. The Capital Limited arrives at 8:45 AM and the City of New Orleans departs at 8 PM that evening, so you get a "free day" in Chicago. 


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#9 June the Coach Rider

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Posted 02 December 2013 - 06:00 PM

I use the rail pass exclusively, that way I can ride the trains from end to end for much less than what it would cost for each segment. The 30 day pass is for 12 segments within 30 days, there is a 45 day pass which has 18 segments. I am not sure how you would get to Nashville, except to as said before either take a bus or rent a car from Memphis. But I would take the Crescent from New York City to New Orleans, stay a few days, then take the City of New Orleans to Memphis, get to Nashville by bus or rental car, go back to Memphis and continue on the City of New Orleans up to Chicago, stay a day or two take the Texas eagle/sunset limited all the way to Los Angeles (only runs 3 days a week all the way thru), take the Coast Starlight up to Emeryville, take an Amtrak Bus into San Francisco, stay a few days, take the Coast Starlight up to Portland or Seattle, then either take the Empire builder back to Chicago or go back down to Sacramento and take the California Zephyr back to Chicago. Then take the Lake Shore Limited back to New York.

 

The only parts of what you have listed that can't be done by train is to get to Nashville, but otherwise you can travel the whole country with a rail pass. Just so you know, Amtrak counts a segment as a train ride on and off, another words, NYP to NOL, NOL to Memphis, Memphis to CHI, CHI to LAX, LAX to EMY, EMY to PDX/SEA, PDX/SEA to CHI on EB or PDX/SEA to SAC, SAC to CHI, CHI to NYP. these would be 10 segments, so if you got the 30 day which is 12 segments, you could also travel two more segments, possibly down to San Diego and Back or add Florida to your trip before New Orleans from NYP. You would have to complete all the segments within the 30 days of when you start the first trip. So it might be better to grab  the 45 day and then have plenty of time to complete the trips and also have extra segments to add smaller segments if you want during your time.



#10 abcnews

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Posted 02 December 2013 - 07:32 PM

You know...

 

You could just fly directly from NY to Nashville and get that trip out of the way - you could stay in Nashville a few days, and then fly from there over to New Orleans. Once in New Orleans you are free to move about the country with Amtrak… But spend a day or two in New Orleans. Then start your Rail Pass adventure from there… 

 

NOL to Memphis - spend a night - and it's an excellent train trip too - with alligators sightings upon your departure from New Orleans on Amtrak's "City of New Orleans". Check out Memphis too...

 

Then from Memphis over to Austin, Texas via Chicago. Nice trip, nice towns… Then maybe Austin to LA, and on to San Francisco… then off to Denver, and Chicago and New York.

 

Let us know if any of this looks workable. We would love to help you get this trip off the ground.

 

Good luck!


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#11 ALC Rail Writer

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Posted 02 December 2013 - 08:11 PM

I agree with the sentiment that you should fly to Nashville first. If I were you I'd fly from New York to Nashville, see what you want to see there, fly back to New York and see the Big Apple and then start your 30-day rail pass adventure. Washington is a must-see for most people, and if you don't want to stay in Chicago you can take train 29 (the Capitol Limited, as in our nation's capitol and the Capitol Building) and enjoy a six or seven hour layover.

 

You'll find large railway stations in America have a lot less security than airports do, so with long layovers you can schedule a fun event to see the city. WAS-CHI and CHI-NOL are short trips that won't break your back in coach. If you're going to be on the train for more than 24 hours I suggest purchasing a sleeper, which IIRC is just an additional charge once you've booked your segments with the railpass.


Amtrak Routes Travelled: Capitol Limited (x12s), Northeast Regional (x10), Pennsylvanian (x10), Empire Builder (x6), Cascades (x4), Empire Service (2), Acela Express (3), New Haven Shuttle (2), Vermonter (1), Lake Shore Limited (x3), Lincoln Service (3), Coast Starlight (x2), California Zephyr(1), Capitol Corridor(1), Southwest Chief (1), Missouri River Runner (1), Downeaster (2), Crescent (2)
Amtrak Rail Miles: 34,568

My most recent Amtrak trip report!

 

All Aboard Ohio - Advocacy group for intercity travel in Ohio




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