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How many Americans have really seen America? I'm talking about the 'fly over' states - the ones you see from the window on that six hour flight from New York to Los Angeles. Did you ever wonder what they really look like up close and personal? Good luck getting a peek at Montana without a three connection flight that costs you your firstborn. Want to see America on the cheap - try Amtrak.
It takes a bit of time to drive across this vast continent we call a country. By car, you can't do it safely in under ten days and there's the cost of gas to consider. But the train let's you leave the driving to someone else and allows you to take in the vastness and diversity of the land and you can do it all from the comfort of a lounge chair in three days. As an added bonus you get to eat train food which beats plane food any day of the week. Do they even serve plane food anymore? Some of Amtrak's dining cars offer fare as good as any decent restaurant and the wine is a lot cheaper.
A few years ago, I booked a one way ticket on an Amtrak from Chicago to Portland, Oregon. The three day trip costs a whopping $82 - taxes included. I didn't bother renting a cabin because the reclining seats were more than comfortable enough to sleep in and I'm simply too cheap to pay for it. Besides, when you're travelling alone, it's a good way to mix with other passengers.
Recreational train travel isn't for everybody. The folks who take the train are a breed apart - they're travelers with time on their hands on their way to destinations where airlines charge a fortune to land. If you're in a rush to get somewhere - go to the airport and book a ticket. But the rails - well they're reserved for the kind of people that have stories to share.
Every week Amtrak offers special discounts on selected Amtrak routes. Weekly Specials are subject to availability and may change without notice. Go out to their website http://tickets.amtrak.com/itd/amtrak/weeklyspecials
to see what they have available. That's how I scored my $82 deal. On the weekly specials, they sometimes offer two-for-one deals no strings attached. So if you are looking for a cheap extended date, look no further!
Even on their regular fares, you can save 15% with an international student identity card, 10% with your AAA card and there are special discounts for seniors and veterans. Kids 2 to 15 get to ride at half price and infants ride for free. If you have two kids and one of them is an infant - you do the math. You want to see young children get excited? Just take them to a train station. Very few things excite a child's imagination like getting on a choo choo or sleeping in a bunk bed in a train cabin. It's a great way to give them a geography lesson and they'll never forget the experience. The great thing about riding the rails, is that it makes the journey part of the vacation.
The train doesn't charge you any extra for luggage and you'll be amazed at what they let you take on. Compare that to the ridiculous baggage fees
on airlines that can run you $200 a trip.