Two months ago, on my 20th birthday, Mattea and I were thinking of how best to celebrate it. We were visiting San Francisco and missing home—”what if,” we thought, “we took the train up to Oregon and back?” That’d be fun!
So we looked at Amtrak’s website—then a banner ad popped up and entirely derailed us (pun intended). “Check out the USA Rail Pass!” it advertised. “Only $500/person for any 10 segments within a month!”
Hmm. We looked at each other, looked back at the ad, and immediately launched into a three-hour planning spree. Where all could we go? What all could we see?
A travel segment occurs any time you board and disembark one of our trains (or other scheduled services). If your trip involves making one connection, you will use two segments of your USA Rail Pass.
Interesting. This deal was clearly designed for people who want to hop on and off a lot: they can visit three cities on one route, and not have to pay three fares.
But what if we never hopped off, and instead did routes in their entirety? Even the “Texas Eagle”—LA to Chicago via Texas, 62 hours of track—only counts as one.
We could feasibly take almost every route in Amtrak’s collection, seeing vast swaths of the beautiful American countryside at the height of autumn… provided, of course, we spend 363 hours sitting in coach.
We’re young and spry, and our work is 100% remote, so why not?
This evening, we’re embarking on the trip of a lifetime. In October, we’re going to:
pass through 39 states (40 including DC),
spend 14 nights in the most vibrant of American cities,
swim in all four big American waters (Pacific, Atlantic, Caribbean, Great Lakes),
meet up with dozens of friends & acquaintances from coast to coast,
(take two cheap flights, because topography is mean to us)…
and do it all in a month, living out of our backpacks, documenting as much as we can.
Here’s to the Internet, which makes such adventures possible!
I’ll be writing daily updates here for the length of the trip; get them at your email here: