There’s nothing quite like taking a trip by rail. The nostalgia in the air, the history, the inexplicable magic of a train station. But it just might be a dying mode of transport – particularly in the US. It’s not the cornerstone of travel it once was, as in days of yore, to conquer any distance across this vast country in the 19th century – it was your only choice. However, globally, the comfort and reliability of bus travel has drastically improved, while ticket prices for certain train routes leave a lot to be desired.
However, it’s not all doom and gloom! Train travel in the US has seen something of a resurgence in recent years. Whether you’re going from Portland to Spokane or Memphis to Biloxi, the romance of the rail is calling and you can see everything from the comfort of your carriage. All aboard!
Yes, we all know that rail travel isn’t the cheapest mode of transport, but it’s still cheaper than flying for the most part. You can get really good deals if you dig deep enough and especially if you know where you’re going in advance. Trains in the US can be very popular during the summer months anyway, so booking as far ahead as possible is advisable.
There are no hidden fees either, what you see if what you get. This can be a godsend if you’re travelling with a similar entourage to Kim Kardashian. Nobody is going to penalise you for bringing too much luggage – so long as you can find a space for it that is.
You just can’t beat it. I don’t care how lush they make next-generation buses, they’ll never have the comfort of the train. Especially when you’re swinging around hairpin corners, dangerously close to a precipice being driven by someone who may or may not have had a few vodkas. There’s no turbulence to go through, no fear of flying, and no car sickness. Added to that, you’ve usually got stacks of leg room on a train, something you rarely get in any other form of transport.
There’s also restaurant and sleeper cars, and even carriages with panoramic views so you can watch the beautiful scenery zip by. When it comes to traveling in comfort, taking the train wins hands down.
Take in the Sights
And speaking of scenery, train travel is arguably the best way to see a country’s landscape. Train routes will often go through stunningly beautiful valleys, mountains and across vast plains, and you can even go all the way to Canada on the train. They transport you through places the world rarely sees, save the actual people on the train of course, and you’re free to enjoy it all in style.
Hiring a car, you’re concentrating on the road, in a bus you’re looking out a pokey little window or stuck in traffic and, in the sky, – well – you might see a few clouds at least. There are some astonishing train routes to be discovered in the US. You’ve really got no excuse not to go and find them.
Hop on, hop off. Train and bus travel have the same advantage here – certainly over flying. Trains generally have reliable routes and departure times, so if you fancy going somewhere last minute, there’s a strong possibility you can just show up and get on board.
Rarely will you have that chance when booking a flight, and you need to know weeks and often months in advance when you’re actually traveling. Trains (and buses – admittedly) offer much more freedom in this regard. You don’t have to go through security for several decades either.
I do like people who are environmentally conscious when they travel and we encourage people to offset their carbon footprint where they can, as well as look at alternatives to flying. Train travel is one such alternative and is considerably kinder to mother nature when compared to taking a flight or a gas guzzling bus.
Aside from that, if you’re not in a motor vehicle, you’re not contributing to the mass pile-up of traffic happening every day – not just in the US but around the world. I’d highly encourage taking a train to work over a car if you can help it, that’s for sure. Apparently, you’re only using 21 lb of carbon for every 100 miles. Go green!
Ahhhh, now this is my favourite bit. This is the real reason why everyone should still be taking trains. There’s a magic to it nobody can quite put their finger on. Maybe it’s the romantic, Hollywoodized aura that trail travel exudes, but there’s just something wonderful about railways.
People have always been captivated by them, ever since those beautiful steam locomotives first thundered by and there was murder on the Orient Express. Well, that’s not exactly selling it but you know what I mean. As the great Cary Grant said; “It beats flying, doesn’t it?” It sure does Mr Grant. It sure does.
Comment Below: What do you like about train travel?
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