How to Travel by Train in the USA

How to Travel by Train in the USA
Train travel in the United States is an excellent way to have a relaxing trip and get to the places you want to visit for your favorite activities. You can take a train to San Francisco, for instance, and then rent a car or take a bus to Golden Gate Park. Once there, you can watch birds, go canoeing on Stow Lake or walk to the DeYoung Museum. Amtrak is the national rail system in the United States. Several states, such as Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut and Florida, have their own rail system. See References below.


Difficulty: Easy

Step 1
Decide where you want to go. has a map that will help you choose your destination or confirm that it has trains going to your preferred vacation area. See References below. State and local train systems offer service to many destinations. Alaska's train system will take you to Denali National Park. This is the home of Mount Whitney, the highest peak in North America. Take California's Skunk Train from Fort Bragg to and from Willits. Get a one-way ticket and explore Fort Bragg, where you can watch whales, go sports fishing or kayak.
Step 2
Choose a rail pass on Amtrak if you want to travel for an extended time. The 15-day pass allows eight segments, the 30-day pass allows 12 segments and the 45-day pass offers 18 segments. You have to begin your trip within 180 days of the day you purchase your pass. See Reference 3 below.
Step 3
Make your reservation at the train station, online or by telephone. Amtrak's Web site offers numerous advertised and weekly specials, passenger discounts, regional tour passes and rail vacations.
Step 4
Earn rewards by signing up for Amtrak Guest Rewards at You get points whenever you travel on Amtrak and can redeem them for future train travel, car rentals, hotels and more.
Step 5
Take identification with you on your trip. You'll need identification with a photo, such as a driver's license, passport, military or student ID, or Job Corps photo ID. You also need identification to get refunds, to buy or exchange tickets, store your bags at a station and check your bags. Amtrak conducts random identification checks on the trains.

Tips & Warnings

Amtrak allows each passenger two pieces of carry-on baggage and three checked bags. Your bags cannot weigh more than 50 pounds each.
Do not pack guns, ammunition or explosive materials. Amtrak prohibits guns, dangerous chemicals or pets, with the exception of service animals. You cannot carry large, sharp objects, such as axes or ice picks. This is a partial list of prohibited items. Check for other items. If you carry any of these items with you, you will not be able to board the train.

Article Written By Ellen Kendall

Ellen Kendall has 15 years of writing and editing experience. Her travel and insurance articles have appeared in national magazines. Her book contributions include biographies and multi-cultural and Holocaust lesson plans. She has previously served as a real estate broker and interior designer and taught ESL in Korea and at Duke.

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