Years ago I was on a long train ride from Oregon to southern California. On this trip my train hit a semi truck and I have been hesitant to take a long train trip again. I have done numerous short train trips overseas including riding mass transit trains and bullet trains but somehow I could not plan another long train trip in the US. Train travel in the US became a fear.
Recently, my family wanted to do a train trip in Alaska that involved several train segments so I figured it’s time to get over these fears and not worry about it any more. I mean, how often do trains get into an accident?
After many years of avoiding train travel in the US I can see that it does have some advantages over other modes of travel.
What’s good about train travel?
- No one in your group has to drive including you! You all just get to stare out the window and enjoy the view. Maybe even cuddle together.
- You only have to pack a lunch if you want to. Most trains have snack cars as well as full service dining cars that treat meals like a fancy restaurant.
- Depending on the length of your train trip you’ll probably traverse some parts of the country that you can’t see in a car. Parts that only a train can get to.
- It’s pretty darn comfortable. There’s more legroom than a car or airplane plus you get to get up and walk around. If you’re lucky like I was on my Alaska train there were whole empty cars to relax in.
- If you have kids you don’t have to be confined to a small box, you have a whole train to roam. Maybe you can find a table to play games at or just let them pop up when they get antsy.
- There’s almost no lines or waiting to board. It’s easy to get your boarding pass, check your luggage and get on board. It’s easier than TSA unless you have pre-check. Plus, train stations are usually located centrally in a city versus an airport that can be an hour away by car or metro.
- Some say train travel is more environmentally friendly than a car or plane so if you care about the environment it might be something to look into.
- There’s multiple bathrooms and they aren’t a shoebox. Almost every train car has a restroom and usually you don’t have to wait in line.
- It can be cheaper than driving or flying. I know that in Thailand a short train ride cost us 60 cents. You might even be able to get a hop on hop off ticket. I know I did that in Europe and loved all the random stops I made along the way.
- In Alaska (and maybe other places) you get open air vestibules. This is great for taking photos or getting some fresh air. Much better than all that recycled air on a plane for 10 hours.
All that said, you can’t take a train across the ocean. So that’s one downside. Another is there are no movie channels but this might also be a positive. I’d highly recommend checking out train travel for your next vacation. You might have a great time and maybe even conquer your fears. Ok, maybe the fear part was just me.
I hope you enjoyed this post that was inspired by the image I always wanted to create on a train. Now, I have some wonderful happy memories that stick out more than the train wreck.