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My American Travel Plans - Anything I need to know?

Travel Forums North America My American Travel Plans - Anything I need to know?

1. Posted by SceneDon (Budding Member, 2 posts) 19 May '10 13:01

SceneDon has indicated that this thread is about USA

Hi, I've just stumbled upon this site and just reading through other posts has already proven very helpful.

I was just hoping to post the details of my travels and see if there is anything I have forgotten or should know before finalising/paying for my plans next week.

I am planning to travel from California to New York over the course of 90 days starting July 9th. I have so far planned to fly into San Francisco to start and from there, make my way to NY via: LA, Vegas, Salt Lake City, Denver, Omaha, Chicago, Cincinnati, Washington DC & New York. I will be doing this via an Amtrak 45-day rail pass and a 30 day Greyhound bus pass! Is this a reasonable/doable route/plan?? Can anyone give me any details on how the Amtrak works exactly. I know I have to book tickets in advance before each trip and I have 18 segments of use within the 45 days. Does a segment literally mean each time I get off the train and stop? Can I in theory do 1 long haul trip between a few states and only have it use 1 segment?? Anyone have experience with Amtrak rail passes??

I plan to use the Amtrak to get me to Chicago at least and then use 30 day, unlimited Greyhound to get to to NY. If this a good idea? It works out cheaper than Amtrak and I am aware that trips on the greyhound will be a lot slower. It is still a plausible way to travel between states though right?

Once I get to NY 3 months later I will be flying to Melbourne Australia to do and 'Oz Experience' but that's another story.

So, Any helpful info? Advice? Things I should know/bring with me??

Any help would be greatly appreciated. :)

ps. I'm a 23 year old Male from England. I will be travelling alone. I will be travelling light with a backpack to hold my stuff. I'll be using hostels as my main accommodation.

2. Posted by lagosmm (Budding Member, 50 posts) 20 May '10 14:41

I can't speak for the rest of the cities you'll be visiting, but for LA, IMO, the city is a lot more accessible with a vehicle. Most of the key attractions (Hollywood BLVD and Disneyland, for example) are generally far apart. You may want to research more into the local transit system there or a day rental for a car.

3. Posted by Nel1787 (Budding Member, 28 posts) 20 May '10 16:20

Quoting SceneDon

Hi, I've just stumbled upon this site and just reading through other posts has already proven very helpful.

I was just hoping to post the details of my travels and see if there is anything I have forgotten or should know before finalising/paying for my plans next week.

I am planning to travel from California to New York over the course of 90 days starting July 9th. I have so far planned to fly into San Francisco to start and from there, make my way to NY via: LA, Vegas, Salt Lake City, Denver, Omaha, Chicago, Cincinnati, Washington DC & New York. I will be doing this via an Amtrak 45-day rail pass and a 30 day Greyhound bus pass! Is this a reasonable/doable route/plan?? Can anyone give me any details on how the Amtrak works exactly. I know I have to book tickets in advance before each trip and I have 18 segments of use within the 45 days. Does a segment literally mean each time I get off the train and stop? Can I in theory do 1 long haul trip between a few states and only have it use 1 segment?? Anyone have experience with Amtrak rail passes??

I plan to use the Amtrak to get me to Chicago at least and then use 30 day, unlimited Greyhound to get to to NY. If this a good idea? It works out cheaper than Amtrak and I am aware that trips on the greyhound will be a lot slower. It is still a plausible way to travel between states though right?

Once I get to NY 3 months later I will be flying to Melbourne Australia to do and 'Oz Experience' but that's another story.

So, Any helpful info? Advice? Things I should know/bring with me??

Any help would be greatly appreciated. :)

ps. I'm a 23 year old Male from England. I will be travelling alone. I will be travelling light with a backpack to hold my stuff. I'll be using hostels as my main accommodation.

Im doing something similar to you, im travelling alone start from NY to L.A in 6 weeks via the Amtrak 45 day pass from next week. The thing about the segments is you can use 1 segment for a long haul, however for my example Amtrak doesnt go by train from L.A to Las Vegas, they use a bus, that also counts as one segment, you should be ok with having 18 segments, but what im going to do if I need to use the train for a short distance im just going to buy a ticket instead of using up one of my segments, I wasnt keen on using the Greyhound tbh heard mixed stories, the Amtrak is slower in some parts but at least i'll get to see the country.

Im doing the Oz experience in August the bruce pass from Sydney to Cairns.....theres a guide on here somewhere for what essentials to take...enjoy your trip

4. Posted by SceneDon (Budding Member, 2 posts) 21 May '10 09:14

Quoting lagosmm

I can't speak for the rest of the cities you'll be visiting, but for LA, IMO, the city is a lot more accessible with a vehicle. Most of the key attractions (Hollywood BLVD and Disneyland, for example) are generally far apart. You may want to research more into the local transit system there or a day rental for a car.

Yes, I'll probably rent a car for a day or two when I'm in the big states. That is definitely something I've had a look into and plan to do. :)

Quoting Nel1787

Im doing something similar to you, im travelling alone start from NY to L.A in 6 weeks via the Amtrak 45 day pass from next week. The thing about the segments is you can use 1 segment for a long haul, however for my example Amtrak doesnt go by train from L.A to Las Vegas, they use a bus, that also counts as one segment, you should be ok with having 18 segments, but what im going to do if I need to use the train for a short distance im just going to buy a ticket instead of using up one of my segments, I wasnt keen on using the Greyhound tbh heard mixed stories, the Amtrak is slower in some parts but at least i'll get to see the country.

Cool, That's interesting to know about the trip from Vegas to LA, I'll probably do the same and just get separate tickets for short distances. What mixed reviews did you hear about the Greyhound? How much do you expect to spend during your 6 weeks? How much should I look to have set aside for a 90 day trek do you think?? What are you using for accommodation whilst travelling (Hostels, Hotels, Motels)??

Thanks for the replies.:)

[ Edit: Edited on 21-May-2010, at 09:14 by SceneDon ]

5. Posted by Daawgon (Travel Guru, 1934 posts) 21 May '10 11:04

The trouble with Amtrak is that it bypasses all of the really nice parts of the USA. You will (very slowly) see a great deal of nothing (desert) between LA and Chicago. LA, Omaha, Salt Lake, Cincinnati and Chicago are hardly what I would call the best of the US!

The trouble with Greyhound is that it will only show you our Interstate Highway system at close range. It will also not show you the best that America has to offer.

I think you need to research your trip just a little better, or you will waste your time here.

If I wanted to go from California to Chicago by train, I would choose the northern Empire Builder route (north from SF to Seattle/Portland, and then the Empire Builder train through Montana and Glacier National Park to Minnesota and on to Chicago). I would also use Amtrak to get to New York. Since Amtrak has rather good service on the NE corridor, it would be best to travel between NYC and DC by train.

Reservations on Amtrak do max out in summer - best to make them PDQ!

6. Posted by Nel1787 (Budding Member, 28 posts) 21 May '10 11:47

Quoting SceneDon

Quoting lagosmm

I can't speak for the rest of the cities you'll be visiting, but for LA, IMO, the city is a lot more accessible with a vehicle. Most of the key attractions (Hollywood BLVD and Disneyland, for example) are generally far apart. You may want to research more into the local transit system there or a day rental for a car.

Yes, I'll probably rent a car for a day or two when I'm in the big states. That is definitely something I've had a look into and plan to do. :)

Quoting Nel1787

Im doing something similar to you, im travelling alone start from NY to L.A in 6 weeks via the Amtrak 45 day pass from next week. The thing about the segments is you can use 1 segment for a long haul, however for my example Amtrak doesnt go by train from L.A to Las Vegas, they use a bus, that also counts as one segment, you should be ok with having 18 segments, but what im going to do if I need to use the train for a short distance im just going to buy a ticket instead of using up one of my segments, I wasnt keen on using the Greyhound tbh heard mixed stories, the Amtrak is slower in some parts but at least i'll get to see the country.

Cool, That's interesting to know about the trip from Vegas to LA, I'll probably do the same and just get separate tickets for short distances. What mixed reviews did you hear about the Greyhound? How much do you expect to spend during your 6 weeks? How much should I look to have set aside for a 90 day trek do you think?? What are you using for accommodation whilst travelling (Hostels, Hotels, Motels)??

Thanks for the replies.:)

Stuff like its rough, ex criminals use it and it isnt as safe as Amtrak to tell you the truth I bought a Greyhound ticket for the U.S and had a refund and went to Amtrak lol! Its gonna be around 2000 grand for 6 weeks, about £1000 to stay at hostels, I'd say for you between £3000 and £4000

7. Posted by rbyslipahs (Respected Member, 349 posts) 22 May '10 09:30

I would totally disagree with Amtrak missing the best of the US! If anything, it makes some of the bypassed stuff more accessible. There is a fabulous museum in Omaha, The Jocelyn Art Museum, that houses some of the best artwork on Native Americans anywhere in the US. Two particular artists, Catlin and Bodmer, did extensive and quite beautiful paintings of Plains tribes, and the Jocelyn has the largest collection of both. Catlin also did extensive ethnographic work. His paintings aren't nearly as fine as Bodmer's, but still create a wonderful portrait of life in the Plains and along the Missouri River.

Amtrak cuts right through some really quite pretty territory in the western High Plains, much of which is sandhills. What many Americans don't realize by cutting straight through on the highways, like I-70, is that they are missing some fantastic scenery just to the north and south, with canyons and gulleys that were carved into a landscape that was once under a vast inland sea. In fact, western Kansas has some great paleontology work and several fossil museums (e.g., the Fick Fossil Museum in Oakley). It's well worth your while to see a part of the US that is still largely unchanged.

As for segments on Amtrak, any time you go from one point to another on one mode of transportation, say from Chicago to Omaha, that is one segment. If you have to take a link via Greyhound, that is also a segment. So, say you go from Chicago to St. Louis via train, that is one segment, then you want to go south to New Orleans, you have to connect using Greyhound. From St. Louis to Carbondale via Greyhound is one segment, and then Carbondale to New Orleans via train is another segment. So, St. Louis to New Orleans counts for two segments. I hope that makes sense!

And Denver is one of my favorite cities in the US. Fantastic food, wonderful museums, and a downtown area that was designed with pedestrians in mind. Spend quality time there! And let me know if you need help or have questions about Amtrak traveling. Pack some warm clothing for the train, because it can get a bit chilly, but it's a wonderful and comfortable way to travel. I love it!

8. Posted by bazzlevi (Budding Member, 16 posts) 5 Jun '10 16:51

Just a general heads up that may prove valuable when using Greyhound. You CANNOT purchase reservations for a given service. Even purchasing a single ticket is NOT the same thing as reserving a seat. All buses at all times are first-come, first-serve, and if you go into the station not knowing this, you could very well not make it onto the bus you are expecting to take. If they do not have designated queuing areas, then do not be afraid to be aggressive about lining up when they call the bus (or even before hand if you know which door/gate to use). Jungle rules!

9. Posted by laurim (Respected Member, 259 posts) 12 Jun '10 11:10

Make sure you look into how much extra it costs a 23 year old to rent a car. There is usually a large supplement to pay when the driver is under 25.