America by Rail
I am still running on the notion that it’s going to be easier to see the USA this year than travel to other countries. I’ve seen a few countries opening up this past week that aren’t allowing visitors from overseas, especially in Europe. So, I’m going to talk about seeing America today, but by train…and who doesn’t love a train ride!
I assume that everyone reading this has heard of Amtrak®. This is the biggest railroad company in the U.S. and the only one that has tracks running to almost every corner of the United States.
Traveling by rail offers a lot of benefits as opposed to travelling by car. The biggest advantage is that you can just kick back and enjoy the ride. You don’t need to worry about stopping for gas, stopping to eat, or even driving through the night. All that is taken care of for you on the train.
Amtrak® trains offer two types of cars. There are standard cars which are full of seats. And then there are sleeper cars that have rooms just for you and your companion(s). I’ve travelled from Florida to NJ several times on Amtrak® and I have always gotten the standard seat. For a 24 hour trip that was fine for me. If I was going to be travelling more than that, I would definitely look into a sleeper car.
The best part of traveling by train is that Amtrak® has tracks all over the Unites States. You don’t have to pick from a handful of itineraries. You can decide that you want to go from Florida to Boston…no, lets change that to New York… and then we can go to Chicago (but with the riots there let’s not go to Chicago), let’s go to Niagara Falls instead. After that we can hit Yellowstone, Yosemite, San Diego (actually let’s pass on San Diego, we went there last year) and to the Grand Canyon before heading home. Oh wait, we are going to be passing by New Orleans during Mardi Gras, lets stop there for a day or two as well!
Your itinerary is fully yours. Just pick the places to go and when you want to go and Amtrak® will take you there. You can also decide that you want to spend a couple of days in say Yellowstone because your daughter lives near there. No problem, you can schedule to get off the train when it gets there and catch the next (or a few later) train to continue your trip.
If you don’t want to sit down and plan a long elaborate trip but just want something that is already packaged and ready to go, there are pre-made packages available. One example package is the USA and Canada Rail Experience which departs from Chicago, goes to Vancouver, then to Toronto and then back to Chicago. The tour package includes:
- Multi-day hop-on, hop-off sightseeing tour of Vancouver
- Admission to the Vancouver Lookout
- Hop-on, hop-off sightseeing tour of Toronto
- Admission to the CN Tower
- 3 nights’ hotel accommodations; 3 nights aboard Amtrak®; 4 nights aboard VIA Rail®
- One-way Amtrak® in Coach accommodations from Chicago to Seattle; Seattle to Vancouver; Buffalo to Chicago on the Empire Builder®; Cascades® and Lake Shore Limited®
- One-way VIA Rail in Economy from Vancouver to Toronto on The Canadian®
- One-way transfer from the hotel in Toronto to the train station in Buffalo
That is just a sample of one of the 300+ pre-made itineraries that you can choose from. Some other itineraries include a Charleston & Savannah, National Parks, Canadian Rockies, Theme trips like the New England Fall Foliage trip, Blues and Bayou round-trip from Chicago, Riverwalk to the French Quarter, and more.
It truly is a nice way to travel and keep everything in the US or Canada and not have to fly or worry about having to make your own hotel reservations. Or if you are making your own itinerary, you don’t need to worry about being on someone else’s timeline when it comes to how long you can stay in one place.
If you want to learn more about rail travel or wish to book a rail vacation, give me a call. If you would like to look at a brochure with the available trips and what is included, you can view a copy of the 2019-2020 Rail Vacation catalog online at https://tdjtravel.com/amtrak-2020 or if you want a print catalog of the 2020-2021 itineraries, let me know and I can get you one.