Ever watch an old movie and feel like things were a little more romantic back then? One of the most common ways people used to travel was by train. Think North by North West, or Murder on the Orient Express, the remake of which is coming out this year. There’s something luxurious about traveling by train, but these days, we use cars or planes almost exclusively, and that’s a mistake! Taking the train can be an excellent way to travel. Here are some reasons why you should consider it as your primary mode of transportation on your next vacation.
It Costs Less
With extras from everything to baggage to leg room, traveling by air has gotten expensive. Train travel is a bargain. Depending on where you’re going, you can save hundreds of dollars with the train. The extras you do pay for are a little more practical. If you’re traveling overnight, you spend more for the sleeper cabin, but these tend to be cheaper than a hotel room, so you actually save money there. As you may expect, you pay for your food in the dining car, which operates like any restaurant. But, you’re going to get a meal of your choice from an actual menu, or you could just get a simple snack. It’s just a little more like the way you usually spend money, which is refreshing.
There’s Less Hassle
Airport security has its necessities, and no one’s arguing the logic, but, well, it’s a pain. With a train, you show up to the station, and board the train when it arrives. That’s it. You can stow your bag, or if you have a cabin you can place it there. Like an airplane, you may have an assigned seat (not always!), but you just find it, there’s no waiting for your section to be called or anything like that. Your ticket is checked by a conductor once you’re sitting down and settled in, the train already on your way. It’s a lot more efficient.
While there’s no flight attendant service, there are also no rules. You can roam the train as soon it pulls away, so that means if you want water, you can get it right away (and you can bring it on the train with you!). Bathrooms are located in each car, so everyone doesn’t have to share, and it’s much easier to stretch your legs out and walk around. All your devices work the entire time.
Most trains have complimentary WiFi service, though that may vary if you’re traveling overseas. It’s something to bear in mind. Also, it’s common for trains to have quiet cars these days, which means you should keep your voice down, and you can’t talk on your phone (although there are violators – don’t be one!). If you need to do business, or just want to chat with a friend or partner, make sure you book a non-quiet car, and the other way around if you’re looking for some peace.
If you’re a fly by the seat of your pants traveler, this is the mode for you. With train travel, you don’t have to organize your plans months or weeks in advance just to get a seat at a good price. While fares do vary based on availability and timing, you can usually get a decent seat on a train with little notice. Sometimes the “Chunnel,” which goes from London to Paris, can book up, as can North East Corridor Amtrak trains, but if you find an off-hour’s train, you’re likely to find a good seat at a good price.
Even if you aren’t spontaneous, you still have the flexibility to change your plans with trains. Often, particularly with Amtrak, you can keep your ticket but change the time or date, and you can do it all online. It’s easy! So, if you want to spend a couple more hours or one more night somewhere, you can. Just be aware that the fare could be higher at your later departure time, and then you have to pay the difference. It varies, so just look at all your options.
Maybe the best part of taking a train is that you actually get to see where you’re traveling. When you drive, your eyes are on the road, and most of what you see is the highway. And of course, when you fly, you’re way high in the air, and your view is the clouds.
Train travel lets you take in the countryside, enjoy yourself, and relax. You can read the paper and drink a coffee and look at rural America, or the Tuscan vineyards, or the vibrant green of Germany’s grassy land. Some trains have viewing cars with big windows with seats facing out – basically the intention is to just enjoy the view.
Sleeping on the train is a practical way to travel as well. Go to sleep in one city, then wake up in the other, without having the terrible creek in your neck from sitting up in the plane, or dealing with the guy snoring on your shoulder and taking up the arm rest. It’s a much more comfortable and restful experience. Plus, you get your own bathroom!
Eat when you want, and what you want, move around, don’t deal with hours of check in, save money, and get a gorgeous view. Why wouldn’t you travel by train?
Have you traveled by train before? Tell us about your favorite routes!