All Aboard for an Affordable Vacation

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By Emma Patch
From Kiplinger’s Personal Finance

An adventure by rail may be one of the best ways to fall in love with travel again. And some trips can be done for a $1,000 or less.

  • Take a Pacific coastal journey

The Coast Starlight traverses what many regard as one of America’s most spectacular train routes, past the dramatic peaks of the Cascade Range and Mount Shasta, lush forests, fertile valleys, and long stretches of Pacific Ocean shoreline. Private rooms offer the perfect option for customers seeking privacy and space on a short trip and added comfort and amenities when traveling overnight. All customers traveling in private rooms enjoy lounge access in stations and meals onboard.

A private room aboard the Coast Starlight from Los Angeles to Seattle (a trip that takes a day and a half) costs about $700. Saver Fares are available, and you can get 20 percent off the standard Coach fare when you book at least 14 days in advance. Kids ride for 50 percent off every day, and seniors can save 10 percent. Learn about upcoming flash sales and other ways to save by subscribing to Emails from Amtrak Guest Rewards or following @Amtrak on social media.

Or consider climbing through the heart of the Rockies by train aboard the California Zephyr, which starts in Chicago and travels to San Francisco via Omaha, Denver and Salt Lake City. A private sleeper room aboard the 51-hour train ride from Chicago to San Francisco costs $1,050.

Along this route is the beloved Winter Park Express, also known as “the ski train,” offered through a partnership with Amtrak and Winter Park Resort. Travelers on the 2-hour, 45-minute trip enjoy comfortable double-decker train cars with an upper-level sightseeing lounge—the perfect vantage point to take in the panoramic views. One-way fares start at $29, with kids’ fares (ages 2 to 12) starting at $14.50.

You can explore British Columbia and see the Canadian Rockies on the Rocky Mountaineer luxury train. It offers breathtaking views from its spacious, custom-designed glass-domed coaches. Book well in advance. The cost is $800 for a couple traveling together who book a year out.

Amtrak also offers Amtrak Vacation packages that include transportation and lodging. A five-day trip between Salt Lake City and Yellowstone National Park is $1,079 per person. After a night in Salt Lake City, you’ll travel to Yellowstone and can take time to enjoy the mountainous countryside along the way. While the train doesn’t take you directly to Yellowstone, Amtrak coordinates transportation to and from the park.

Eager to see faraway lands by train? Consider the Glacier Express in Switzerland (about $700 total for an Excellence Class ticket, including the cost of the mandatory reservation fee). It travels through the Alps, over bridges and through tunnels, from Zermatt to St. Moritz. The 8-hour trip boasts spectacular views, and you’ll enjoy freshly prepared foods and regional wines.

The Excellence Class ticket guarantees a window seat and offers access to a five-course lunch, champagne, snacks, afternoon tea, a free souvenir and the services of a luggage porter.

(Emma Patch is a staff writer at Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine. For more on this and similar money topics, visit

©2022 The Kiplinger Washington Editors, Inc. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

The Epoch Times Copyright © 2022 The views and opinions expressed are those of the authors. They are meant for general informational purposes only and should not be construed or interpreted as a recommendation or solicitation. The Epoch Times does not provide investment, tax, legal, financial planning, estate planning, or any other personal finance advice. The Epoch Times holds no liability for the accuracy or timeliness of the information provided.

Tribune News Service


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