You Can Take a Scenic Train Tour of the West Coast for Just $97 – Mental Floss

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Plane travel isn’t as glamorous as it used to be. Between TSA pat-downs, the lack of snacks, and that guy in front of you who insists on leaning all the way back, it’s not exactly a romantic way to take in the sights. But trains? They’re an underrated form of modern travel, even if Amtrak does have its flaws.

So as you’re planning your next West Coast vacation, consider this: You can get an Amtrak ticket that will take you along the entire West Coast for as low as $97, Condé Nast Traveler reports.

The Amtrak Coast Starlight runs from Los Angeles to Seattle, giving you 35 hours’ worth of spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean, redwood forests, Mount Shasta, and some of California, Oregon, and Washington’s best cities. It doesn’t have the speed of a three-hour flight, but this way, your journey will feature as many great sights as your destination.

The $97 applies if you can snag a “saver” fare; other seats might cost closer to $150. For slightly more money, you can reserve a “superliner roomette,” which can cost between $500 and $700, but includes two seats that turn into stacked beds. And if you want to pretend you’re in a 19th-century travel novel (or North by Northwest), go ahead. It’s guaranteed to be a less harried travel day than what you’d experience heading to LAX.

[h/t Condé Nast Traveler]

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The U.S. Government Is Auctioning Off Six Historic Lighthouses

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The U.S. government is auctioning off a collection of properties with history, charm, and unbeatable waterfront views. And unlike most beachside vacation homes, these places are selling for starting bids of $10,000 to $15,000. But there’s a catch: The lighthouses up for sale were built for guiding ships to safety, not relaxing in luxury.

As Inhabitat reports, the six lighthouses include the Craighill Channel Lower Range Front Light Station in Chesapeake Bay, Maryland, and five structures on the shores of Michigan’s Great Lakes. One property, the Minneapolis Shoal Light, located on Lake Michigan, was part of a group of lighthouses the state of Michigan attempted to sell to the public last year. This time around, the bidding on the lighthouse is up to $15,000, with the auction set to close August 15. The Maryland lighthouse will remain for sale until September 15; the closing dates for the other four listings have yet to be announced.

Prospective bidders must agree to put down a $5,000 to $10,000 deposit on the lighthouse they’re interested in. They must also be prepared to renovate the house’s interior so it will meet the legal standards for public habitation. The actual property each lighthouse stands on will still belong to the government, but with the building no longer needed for its original purpose, the new owner will be free to transform it into a bed and breakfast, a summer home, or anything else they envision. There are plenty of examples of repurposed lighthouses around the world they can look to for inspiration.

[h/t inhabitat]

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American Airlines Will Now Track Your Luggage

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Traveling to a new place is fun—except when all of your luggage has an alternate destination in mind. If you often find yourself stressing about the whereabouts of your checked bags, American Airlines might have found a solution.

The airline has just rolled out a service dubbed Customer Baggage Notification (CBN), an alert on the American Airlines app that notifies travelers whether their luggage is ready for pick-up, delayed, or somewhere on the other side of the world.

Here’s how it works: If your bag isn’t on the same plane, CBN will tell you if it’s going to arrive before you do. That way, you can skip the conveyor belt and head for the Baggage Service Office, or BSO. If it’s going to be late, you’ll be instructed to go to the BSO to speak to an agent. If it’s going to be late or waylaid, you’ll be asked to fill out a Mobile Baggage Order (MBO) so the airline can deliver your luggage to your location.

The program is part of the airline industry’s overall initiative to reduce the number of lost or delayed bags: Delta, for example, uses radio frequency cards to track bags. But the most effective way to make sure your underwear follows you in your travels might be to use independent tracking gadgets like Trakdot, which keeps tabs on luggage. A pricier alternative is “smart luggage,” which has built-in sensors that make use of GPS and Bluetooth to keep things from getting misplaced.

[h/t Thrillist]

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