Have you seen those articles and social media posts advertising LA to Seattle for $116? Cross country for $213?
Are these prices REAL? Yes, they are, but there are a few things you have to be aware of.
- The price is one-way at the basic super-saver fare. Want to come home? Then you have to double that price to come back home on the train. And, there’s more.
- You’ll usually need an overnight stay, so add a hotel and possible transportation to the hotel to that original price.
- Do you live at the start of the trip or will you need transportation to the start and end location? Friends and I were looking at the Los Angeles to Seattle trip for $116. Sounds great, but we’d need to get to Los Angeles and home from Seattle. Add some air or train travel to that $116.
- Do you want to eat? Food’s not included in that basic price. There is a dining car, but be prepared to pay a little higher prices for basic food.
- Is your trip overnight? A bed will cost extra. A bed in the sleeping car is generally over twice the price of that basic cheap advertised rate.
- Take a look at what you’ll be seeing on your train route, especially what you’ll see during the day and what you’ll miss at night. The east-west middle-of-the-US route has passengers sleeping through the flat, desolate parts of northern Nevada. On the other hand, you’ll be traveling the wooded, mountainous switchbacks of the Rockies and Sierra during the day. The LA-Seattle route? It’s not all along the beach. The southern portion of the trip is near the coast. However, the portion between San Francisco and Seattle is inland, basically paralleling I-5 (not along the scenic Oregon coast).
Taking the train is a wonderful way to slow down and see the US. You can relax, see the country and not have to worry about traffic, using your GPS and being tired at the end of each day.
Enjoy a bit of the past, but make sure you know there’s more to the price that what you see in the ads.