USA Rail Pass

Tour the States by Train: USA Rail Pass

Interrailing, train touring, travelling by train… While writing about all these, we’ve had the chance to give you detailed information on Interrail, touching the issues of where to stay, how to go, how much to spend, leaving ‘what to see’ to your very own taste. But we have realized that we have skipped a crucial point.

Interrail has always happened to mean a ‘Europe Tour’ until recently, which we still happen to believe. However, these days there is one question we need to ask when somebody mentions Interrail, ‘Europe, or USA?’… 

Although the information is yet not available to masses, it is possible to have a train tour across the USA, valid in all states up to 45 days! 

Before moving on to the details about the USA Rail Pass, here are some more articles, which are actually designed for Interrail (EuRail) but could still be useful for USA Rail Pass too:

1. What is Interrail

2. Tips for a better Interrail experience

3. Interrail Safety Tips

4. Balkan Tour by Train (Balkan Flexipass)

5. Budget Travel Tips: Upon Arrival

interrail america

How would one tour across the USA by train?

First thing first, the name of this pass in the USA is not Interrail, but ‘USA Rail Pass‘. But due to the fact that most Europeans like to call a train tour ‘Interrail’, it is called ‘Interrail America’.

As you may guess, it is enough for you to buy your pass and go to the states to join this programme. Then you simply travel the country state by state within the period of your choice, abiding by the limitations of time and segments, of course.

USA Rail Pass (Interrail America) Pass Types

The types of passes in Interrail America are as follows:

15 days 8 segments: Just like the European Interrail, or EU Rail, the pass is valid up to 15 days. With this pass, you can use the trains 8 times only, then your pass is invalid.

30 days 12 segments: This type can be used up to 30 days, 12 times.

45 days 12 segments: The widest travel coverage is provided with this type of pass in the USA Rail Pass system. You can take a train 18 times within 45 days.

The below information, however, is from the American company, Amtrak, which organizes this tour. Your local travel agent may have an alternative plan, so it’s wise to consult.

The point to bear in mind concerning the pass types is that you should never exceed the validity period of your pass and forget the count of the times you use your pass. Because if you skip one of these details, you may have to buy a new ticket to travel.

interrail america

Who organizes USA Rail Pass? 

USA Rail Pass is organized by the American transportation company Amtrak. On its website, you can buy your ticket with your credit card and have your pass printed out when you arrive, at a station of your choice. On the purchasing page of the site, you need to choose your pick up station for that, of course. Moreover, you send an e-mail to Amtrak about this, so that they may aid you during the process.

How much is a USA Rail Pass?

If you skip your local travel agent and buy your USA Rail Pass on amtrak.com, the prices are as follows:

Pass TypeFees
15 Days - 8 Segments$449
30 Days - 12 Segments$679
45 Days - 18 Segments$879

A USA Rail Pass would cost you as shown in the table. But mind you, if you choose to buy your pass through amtrak.com, you’ll have to deal with the visa issues (if required) all by yourself, for which you’d need a fluent English and enough energy to deal with everything.

On the other hand, you can pay to your travel agent to deal with everything (even accommodation), but keep in mind that you’ll have to pay a service fee.

Is a tourist visa required for a USA Rail Pass?

Normally, USA requires a visa even for the whistles reaching the country somehow, but it’s wise to take a look at the web site of the embassy to check if you need a visa for a USA Rail Pass or not.

Are there any trains to the USA?

If you live in Europe or Asia, we’ll try and pretend to avoid this question, since no project to cross the Atlantic by train has been brought into life yet. You’ll have to take a flight (or ship?) in order to go there. That’s why the ‘pass pick up point’ is an important issue, actually. We sincerely hope that you won’t choose New Jersey as a pick up point, if your plane lands in California, in which case you would have to pay for another flight to the other side of the country.

How much money would I need for a USA tour by train?

We have already listed the pass fees above. But you need to add your flight costs to this, at which point our ‘cheap flight advise’ article may come in handy.

We have our pass, and our flight ticket, which are sufficient to reach the states. But is that all? Of course, not!

From this point, it is totally up to you how much you spend. If you eat at expensive restaurants, you spend ‘a lot’. If you choose to stay at a hostel, you spend ‘a little’, or simply ‘none’ if you choose to couchsurf. If you enter every museum you see, you again spend ‘a lot’, while you spend ‘none’ if you sleep at a park. That is to say, it is totally up to you. But if you still have concerns on how much you would spend in each city, just relax, waiting for you here… Are you relaxed now? OK, let’s continue…

At this point, you simply need to read our ‘how much will I spend in a city‘ article and learn the ways of finding out the cost of living in a particular city.  

usa rail pass hostel

Where to stay during a USA train tour?

Practically everywhere… Hotels, hostels, parks, gardens, and even better, with the locals! This is just another thing that is up to you… Your pass has no relation to where you stay, but your local travel agent may provide you this!

As we said, stay in a hotel, or hostel, or just couchsurf (our favourite)… The shot is yours to take!

Even so, taking a look at our ‘budget accommodation‘ page may come in handy for those who are not sure where to stay…

All in all, the USA is a vast country waiting to be explored. Each and every state hosts a unique culture and judging by the Americans that I know (a large scale of people from an ordinary hairdresser to the Educational Attache of the US Embassy) are extremely friendly. Therefore, we strongly recommend you partake in this programme, which is for sure loads of fun!!!

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USA Rail Pass / Interrail America
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USA Rail Pass / Interrail America
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