Amtrak’s train passes are 40 percent off right now—is that the news you need to hear to finally buy a pass? Maybe your New Year’s resolution is to spend a month doing day trips by rail, or even tell your boss you’re OOO for the entire month! Now just $299, the USA Rail Pass is valid for 10 segments over 30 days to over 500 destinations. Ordinarily priced at $499, this deep discount means each leg is less than $30. There are of course details to navigate and we’ll help you below, but the first thing to know is that you have to decide soon: this deal expires on January 20.
Do you have to do all the rides by January 20?
No, once you have the pass in hand, you have 120 days to use it. That means you might even wait to purchase for a week if you plan to travel later in the spring. The pass “activates” upon first use and from that point, you have 30 days to travel all the legs (so again, waiting until the latter end of the 120 days could benefit your warmer weather travel plans).
That’s complicated math. Help.
If you buy the pass on the last day, January 20, and then want to ride your first leg (or segment) exactly 120 days later, that would be May 20. Then you have until June 19 to complete your traveling. Your winter pass has almost become a summer pass (summer begins June 21, just two days later). Although, we do think that riding a train in winter is an indelible experience.
Do you have to decide which segments right away?
No. Once you have the pass in hand, you can start booking travel at your leisure.
Can you sleep on the train?
Sure! The pass only works for coach seating, which is actually pretty comfortable with reclining seats and good legroom. If you can sleep on a plane, you can sleep on Amtrak (rejoice: there’s no middle seat!). But if you want business class seating or a private room with a bed, this pass won’t work, nor can you use it to upgrade.
There are undoubtedly blackout dates, right?
No! Amtrak wouldn’t do that to you.
Is the pass flexible?
Yes. If you need to change or cancel a segment, you can do that prior to the scheduled departure without charges, so long as the rebooked travel falls within that 120-day/30-day window described above.
What does a segment entail?
The time between boarding and disembarking is a segment. If your trip involves a connection, that counts as two segments.
Any insider tip?
Download the Amtrak app to purchase your tickets. Once you have the app, you can book the legs, modify them, receive boarding details, check train status and even text an agent.
Which trains should you book?
We love scenic train rides, and Amtrak offers some of the best ones, like the California Zephyr, Coast Starlight and the Empire Builder. And here’s one that will take you to a ski resort for the day from Denver!