I’m a fan of traveling.
Yes, that’s a pretty big blanket statement, but it leads to so much more. I’ve been lucky enough to see some cool places in my lifetime, but the reality is it’s pretty much been on the East Coast. Outside of a trip to Texas in 2007 for a wedding and Nebraska for a job interview in 2003, I’ve basically stayed on my side of the country.
Well, besides that trip to Ireland in 2010.
But in the past year or so, I’ve really been working on something I’d like to do — see the U.S. via train. This is something I should have done soon after getting laid off from my job. I probably could have found a way to afford it. Now? Unless there’s some company out there who would like to pay for it in exchange for stories and photos, it’s probably going to be a while — if ever.
See, this dream travel of mine goes beyond a “Cannonball Run” of crossing the country and back as fast as the trains will take me. No, it would be more of a journey of discovery — both personal and of new places. In recent months, I’ve been plotting what I would do on this trip — photographically, geocaching, possibly disc golf and whatever else — and what kind of cost I’d be looking at.
A trip like this wouldn’t be cheap, that’s for sure. But it also wouldn’t be some sort of massive expense. If done right, this could be one heck of a wild trip. And it’s one I’d like to do, whether solo or not.
I won’t rule out the possibility of this happening. I’m going to keep planning as if I am going to be able to do it. Of course I may have to tweak things slightly over time, but it’s something to have.
And with that in mind, I’m going to share my plans here. This will be covered in a couple of posts as putting all of this together in one post would be a massive undertaking to read it. Therefore, it will be broken up to make it easier to read.
First, allow me to say this. The reality is I’d be hoping to do this as cheap as possible. That means likely no bed cars or anything like that. I’ll snooze in my seat.
If all was right in the world and I had a little extra money, I’d probably invest in something like an iPad Mini (yes, I like them better than the full-size ones) and a portable hard drive for photos. Outside of that, I wouldn’t be carrying a laptop or anything like that as I’d want to pack as light as possible.
The biggest thing is my camera equipment. I have a backpack camera bag, but I’d still have to figure out where to carry some clothes. My goal would be to not have many clothes. Despite this being a trip of probably three or so weeks, my hope would be to wash clothes every couple of days on stops. So I’d basically probably look for a bigger backpack camera bag that I could have locks on and would carry everything I bring. The only other things I’d want to have would be water, medications and some snacks. I don’t want to be carrying 50 pounds, that’s for sure.
Amtrak has rail passes for use in the U.S., which would likely help quite a bit. Though I’d want to price out the actual trips first. A 30-day pass, which includes 12 segments is $669. If I read right, each time the train stops is a segment. If that’s so, it might be cheaper just to plot out the trip as one like this will be way more than 12 segments. An 18-segment pass, which is good for 45 days, is $859.
This is what the Amtrak site says about the passes:
For each pass type you are allowed a certain number of travel segments within the travel periods. All travel must be completed within 180 days of purchasing the pass. Pass prices are subject to change and are not guaranteed until actual travel reservations are made.
So, for the sake of these posts, I’m going to probably go with the costs on the individual trains. If this whole trip come to fruition, I’ll probably do more research to see how the passes work and see if it would be more economical to purchase those.
And, to share a little of my planning — I wouldn’t be doing this trip to see all major cities. Maybe a couple, but for the most part, I want to see America. Some of the smaller towns. The different places. Those stops that one might never really do, outside of a crazy trip like this.
So an extended stay in, say, Chicago, wouldn’t be happening. If I’m visiting a place like Chicago, I want more than a one- or two-night stay.
Each of these stops, too, I’ve done some research. I’ve looked for either geocaching, or cool things to photograph, or just a spot that seemed interesting. I’d be looking for neat laces to eat, or a local barber or anything — just to get that experience of the trip. And, maybe meet up with some fellow geocachers or disc golfers and see some other parts of the area.
For those who have done trips with me, you know I’ll plan a lot of things out. And this trip would be no different. It would be based on the following:
- Disc golf
- Life experiences
If any of those were met, it’s probably a place I’d like to stop and explore.
And over the next week or two, you’ll get to see this trip I’ve planned. From the route I’d like to take to the places I want to stop — and why — and anything else along the way. I’m even going to include current costs, so I have an idea of what the money situation would look like. Hopefully one day, I’ll be able to look back and use this as a map to this trip.
I hope you enjoy the series!
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