Skip the Plane, Take the 5 Hour Train

Planes are by far the go-to mode of travel in our modern age of travel. Sometimes, while 30,000 feet up in the air, I’ll gaze out the window and think, “Wow, there is really only some metal and glass between me and dying…” I’ve never had a real fear of flying, but it’s something that still kind of always amazes me.

Just another reason to take the train.

The Hauptbahnhof (Main station) in Berlin, Germany

Trains are the best. They have nice, long, peaceful rides that can either lull you to sleep or keep you awake as you traverse the scenic countryside. You can leave airport security and long lines behind, and chill on a more laid back and relaxed type of transportation. 

You’re also shrinking your carbon footprint. Air travel is absolutely horrible for the environment; train travel is a much better option.

5. It is so much more relaxed than an airport

Your carry on’s dimensions measure more than 30cm x 12cm x 20cm?! No problem! You want to bring dinner on board that you bought from a local vendor?! No problem! Taking the train is so much more relaxed and enjoyable; there is no airport hassles, no security (unless you’re crossing international lines), and no (seriously enforced) baggage rules. You’ll be stress free and able to enjoy your journey, and hey, no seatbelt sign.

4. You can meet the coolest people

If you’re lucky, or just happen to be on the right train, you can meet the most interesting people. There are likely to be other travelers headed in the same direction, or just some friendly locals who will strike up a conversation.

You might meet a new travel buddy or a local who will give you the inside scoop of where to go when you arrive.

3. You can see the most awesome of landscapes

This definitely doesn’t occur everywhere, but when it does, it’s amazing. A personal favorite is the train up the coast of Vietnam. From Hue to Hanoi, you can see beautiful vistas and beaches from the windows—you get to see so much more of a country than if you were flying over it.

image from train1

Though trains in the U.S. tend to be a little more pricey than trains in other countries, Amtrak has some of the views of the American landscape. Take the route from Chicago to Boston… I’ve never done it (it’s on my list!), but it is supposed to be one of the most beautiful train trips in the entire country. It’s also 22 hours long, but hey, that kind of sounds like fun if you have the time.

2. Sometimes, the train really is cheaper

If you’re going a short distance, let’s say one city in Germany to the next, it may be slightly cheaper to take the train, especially if the city you are going to does not have any major airport (or if it is far from the city center; train stations are more centrally located). If anything, it is also much easier. Even if the train ticket is more expensive, by the time you pay your way to and from an airport, the train ticket will have come out cheaper. 

If you are planning a trip around Europe, you might also find it beneficial to buy a Eurail pass. It really depends on the nature of the trip you are embarking on, but you may save some cash by using a pass instead of buying point to point. Planning ahead will also usually save you money, but don’t get too caught in planning all of your journeys ahead of time. 

1. The train is an experience in itself

Trains themselves can be experiences. Take the Trans-Siberian railway for instance, or night trains in Thailand (where your seat can literally be changed into a bed right before your eyes), or the little yellow train that will take you to the France-Spain border (it’s really more like a little roller coaster). Riding a new train and seeing new stations are a part of the adventure!

Thinking of taking the train next time? Check out this awesome resource to help you find your way: The Man in Seat 61 is incredibly informative and helpful, making getting from one station to the next much clearer.

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