4. Look Into Loyalty Programs and Multi-Ride Discounts
Magliari also recommends that regular riders join Amtrak's Guest Rewards Program. Upon registering, you immediately start earning points for money spent on Amtrak travel (two points per dollar, with a minimum of 100 points earned per trip) and with dozens of partners. You can subsequently redeem points for future travel (1,500 points and up), as well as hotels stays (5,000 points and up), rental cars (6,000 points and up) and gift certificates to numerous retailers and restaurants.
If you plan to travel the same Amtrak route numerous times, multi-ride discounts can exceed 25 percent. Chicago-to-Milwaukee fare runs $24, but 10 rides in 60 days is $173. Although monthly passes are geared primarily to commuters, they can save you even more.
5. Travel in the Slow Season
"Let's say you qualify for no discounts, and you are still trying to save a couple of bucks," says Magliari with the last of his money-saving train travel tips. "Your best way to save is to travel when most other people aren't." Besides the obvious (the dead of winter), early fall is another slow travel season, he adds, once school is back in session and the average summer vacation budget is depleted. "The weather is better," says Magliari. "September into early October is a lovely time to travel all over the country."
Also of interest: Industry experts offer cheap travel tips.