Birthday Boy Builds Tradition of Travel

Jake McCook

Hold the cake, candles and ice cream. Jake likes to celebrate his birthday out on the open rails.

"When I looked at the map, no matter where I wanted to go for my birthday, Amtrak was the way to go," he says. "It grew from there. That combined with Amtrak [Guest] Rewards points; I thought, 'I should make a habit out of this'."

Jake uses a a mixture of full-price reservations and redemption points, which he earns using his AGR Chase Card, to go on his birthday adventures. So far he's traveled to Seattle, Vancouver, LA, Montreal, and Portland, Me., all from Washington, D.C.

Virginia Capitol"I'm on a mission to see all 50 state capitols," Jake says. "Seeing the capital city is how I get a sense for the people in that state, and of course the history of the country when you look at all 50. Amtrak is great for that."

Despite Jake's many travels, his favorite route remains the one he grew up on--the Southwest Chief. That train travels daily between Chicago and Los Angeles, but Jake has a soft spot for the stretch between his home town Raton, New Mexico, and La Junta, Colo.

"That's the first route I ever took," he says, "Anything that involves the mountains and trains, I love."

Jake encourages young people to strike out on their own train adventure, not just for the cool destinations but for so much more.

"For younger generations, we care about the planet, and rail is so much more sustainable," he says. "It's also important for rural communities. I came from one of those small towns, and as a young person I don't want my generation to forget that."

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