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You Can Take a Beautiful Cross-Country Train Trip for $213

Satisfy your inner wanderlust on a budget.

Derek Low

Forget the cross-country road triptravel blogger Derek Low says the best (and most scenic) way to see America is by train. And he’s figured out a way to do it for just $213.

The entire trip is 3,397 miles through 11 states and four time zones. While Low says it can be done in as little as four days without any stopovers, he chose to extend his trip for a little extra sight-seeing at some of the cities along the way.

According to Low’s blog, where he documented the journey in photos, you’ll start in Emeryville, a small town just outside of San Francisco, where you’ll board the California Zephyr.

This train, which costs as little as $130, will take you all the way to Chicago through Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Nebraska, Iowa, and Illinois. Along the way, you’ll be treated to stunning views from the rocky Pacific coastline to the snowy Sierra Nevada mountains to the blazing Colorado desert.

You’ll also get to interact with some of your fellow passengers during mealtimes, where you’ll be seated with strangers. “You never know who your dinner companion would be,” Low wrote. “It’s awkward for the first time, but many frequent train passengers actually find it to be one of the joys of train travel — meeting people from all walks of life.”

Once you disembark at Chicago’s Union Station, you’ll transfer to the Lake Shore Limited line to take you the rest of the way to Penn Station in New York City. This 20-hour leg, which costs $83, goes through Indiana, Ohio, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and finally New York.

“Traveling by train gives you a glimpse into the soul of America,” Low explained. “The experience rewards you with far more stories and experiences and sights than you could ever witness alone in a car, eyes fixed on the road, or on a five-hour flight across the country.”