Whether it’s by plane, train, car, or even by foot, I don’t particularly care about how I get around as long as I get to travel. I consider myself to be a relatively low-maintenance traveler, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have my preferences. Of course private jets, helicopters and Back To The Future style hoverboards would be ideal, but I’m not at that baller status quite yet. #Oneday.
In the meantime, there is one mode of transportation I can actually afford that also just so happens to be incredibly convenient for multiple reasons: trains.
There’s something romantic about hopping on a train and traveling to a new destination, wondering who will get on and off at each stop while the landscape outside just rolls by to the rhythm of the wheels on the tracks. Ahhh. I’m relaxed just thinking about it.
I first fell in love with train travel when I was eight-years-old traveling with my family from Virginia to Florida. I had the time of my life and ever since then I’ve always looked for every opportunity possible to travel by train. Ever since then I’ve also grown to appreciate not only the fun side of locomotive travel, but also its practicality.
So next time you get ready to plan a trip, these are just a few things to consider that might make you rethink overlooking trains as your mode of transportation.
Train travel is less stressful.
Ask my beloved grandmother and she will tell you that taking a flight is the most stressful experience that any human being can go through. She’s the kind of person that gets to the airport three hours early to avoid stress, and although I think she’s quite the exaggerator for that, I do get where she’s coming from. Checking in bags, hoping those bags are underweight and rearranging them if they’re not, going through security, navigating a huge airport and then the waiting. All of that makes for a stressful experience before you even get on the plane, and then at point I just hope that flying doesn’t make you nervous. With train travel, you don’t have to go through all of that. Lines are shorter, security is less intense if there is any at all, and there is no limit on baggage weight and in many cases not even on the number of luggage pieces you can take with you. In the end, that just makes the overall feeling and experience of train travel a lot less stressful.
Trains usually leave you in the city center.
This may come as a news flash to many people, but the Miami airport is not really in Miami. At least not in any part of Miami that you or the typical tourist would want to go. The same goes for most airports. They’re named after the closest major city, but in reality they are actually far from the city center. Europe’s low cost airlines are especially notorious for doing this. When I flew into Milan this summer, I had to take an hour-long bus ride to actually get to the center of Milan, and you know where they dropped me off? THE TRAIN STATION! Because from there you can easily get to anywhere else in the city, and that’s the case in every major city I’ve ever visited.
Train travel is less time consuming.
Now, hear me out before you start questioning my sanity. Yes, a plane and even a car can often get you to your destination faster, but what about all the other time consuming factors that go into travel? As I mentioned in my first two points, plane travel requires a lot of time before the flight and even after to pick up bags and get to where you actually want to go. Traveling by car, which I think can actually be very fun sometimes, involves not only the time spent driving but you also have to factor in potential traffic, time wasted getting lost (that’s pretty much a guarantee for me) and also time looking for parking, which can be a hellish experience depending on the city. With a train trip all you have to worry about is getting on the train exactly on time (or with one minute to spare as I have done before) and then getting off at your stop. That’s it.
Trains are more comfortable.
If you’ve ever been stuck on a plane next to someone who didn’t understand the one armrest per person rule or you’ve been stuck in the backseat of a car next to a sibling who should not have eaten that bean burrito at the last rest stop, chances are you know what it feels like to wish for more personal space. On a train, these things are not nearly as big of a problem. Not that these issues are completely avoidable on a train, but at least you’ll have a little more breathing room to deal with them. Trains tend to be more spacious, less crowded because they have fewer seats and for all my tall people out there, they usually have tons of legroom. When you get up to walk around you don’t have to worry about falling on top of people, and if you’re on a long train trip you can head over to the restaurant or café car of the train to sit in a different environment. More space = more comfortable trip.
Side note: I’m not trying to say that all trains are super comfortable. I’ve seen pictures of some crazy packed trains in other countries that look like hell on Earth. I’m just saying in general, trains tend to be decently comfy.
All electronics are always allowed and actually useable.
I don’t fully understand the rules about electronics on planes, but airlines are loosening the grips on those restrictions. A lot of planes even have wifi now, but you still have to power down during take off and landing. On a train, you can use your phones, tablets and laptops at all times, and since you’re not thousands of feet up in the air, you’ll always have access to your data and wifi to send all your tweets and snapchats. Planes may have wifi, but you have to pay for it and trust me, half the time it’s so slow and so expensive that it’s not worth it.
You can enjoy the landscape.
One of my favorite things about trains is that you can actually enjoy the landscape as you travel. Trains often go through gorgeous rural areas that I probably would never see on my own. Traveling by train is almost like getting a mini tour of the route to your destination. It makes the entire experience feel like part of the trip instead of just the time you spend at your destination.
There is no turbulence.
Flying used to not scare me, but in recent years I have definitely become a little bit more of a worrywart on a plane. I HATE turbulence. I hate it with a passion. I hate that feeling in my stomach like I’m on a rollercoaster. I’m just not a fan. On a train, you don’t have to worry about that. Trains always stay nice and close to the ground. Just how I like them.
Train travel is relaxing.
Do you remember that feeling when you were a kid and would get in the car after a long day and instantly fall asleep because of the rhythmic vibrations from the car rolling down the street? I remember that like it was yesterday, and that’s mostly because I’ve never stopped doing that. Some of my best naps happen in the car, but I can definitely achieve the same effect on a train. The constant rhythm of the train is just soothing and makes it so easy to relax. Add that to everything else I’ve mentioned about train travel (less complicated, less stressful, more legroom, no turbulence, beautiful scenery), and it’s easy to see why I think it’s such a relaxing experience.
Train travel is eco-friendly!
If you’re a traveler, I’m guessing that you love our planet and want to see it stick around for as long as possible. Well, as if all of the reasons I listed above were not enough to convince you how awesome train travel is, on top of everything it’s also eco friendly. Planes leave a huge carbon footprint on this world so much so that some people have even proposed the idea of raising taxes on airlines to combat this. And let’s not even talk about cars. Trains are a much greener way to travel and although cars and planes are obviously necessary (I wouldn’t have made it from Spain back to the U.S. otherwise), whenever possible I try to take a train and do what little I can to help preserve Mother Nature.