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Travel by Train for Your Next Vacation
If you live in a metro area, you might already take the subway, a tram, or a light-rail to and from work every day. But when was the last time you hopped on a proper train? When was the last time you booked a luxury liner just for fun?
Train travel and transport helped expand and build nations. The railways were the backbone of the industrial revolution in the US and made it possible to quickly and easily get across the country. Now that airline travel is the standard for fast, cross-country trips in the West, trains are an often-forgotten form of long-distance transportation. But don’t get derailed by the travel time. Check out the following guide and then book a ticket for your next adventure.
Service across North America is ideal for people who prefer not to drive or fly. When you ride the train, you have complete freedom to sleep, stretch your legs, take in the scenery, and enjoy a hot meal. There’s no need to worry about other drivers (the conductor takes care of that) and you’ll never lose travel time by stopping for snacks or gas. In fact, you might arrive at your destination even faster with top speeds clocking in at one hundred to 150 miles per hour. Passenger trains might offer a great alternative if you regularly take short commuter flights, as they don’t require lengthy wait times or high-alert security measures. Trains do require a fair amount of travel time for long distances and they aren’t necessarily cheap, so check fares and routes before you make travel plans.
COMPANIES AND ROUTES
While there are plenty of commuter and specialty excursion trains that are run independently, Amtrak (www.amtrak.com) is the only line that offers cross-country passenger train service in the US. Amtrak also operates in Canada as does VIA Rail Canada (www.viarail.ca). Even though they offer impressive routes considering they run on tracks, routes are somewhat limited. Check the companies’ respective websites for exact routes.
Want to see the sights and make short stops without lifting a finger? Train vacations are for you. Think of them like cruise ships on land. The main players offer vacation packages with destinations including national parks, but you can also take customized trips with other lines. The Royal Canadian Pacific, for example, offers the ultimate in luxury, and Alaska Railroad gives you access to terrain that’s tough to reach by car.
LIFESTYLES OF THE RICH AND FAMOUS
If you happen to fall in love with train travel and your budget is unlimited, there is always the option to purchase your own functioning train cars. Yes, you read that right. Luxury travel isn’t limited to yachts and helicopters; it consists of dome, sleeper, and dining train cars too. Private owners may belong to the American Association of Private Railroad Car Owners, Inc. (AAPRCO), and through this organization some owners make their trains available for charters. It won’t be inexpensive, but a private charter will be easier on your wallet than year-round maintenance.
Passenger trains might offer a great alternative to short commuter flights...
Today, train travel across North America is viewed as more of an adventure than a necessary means of transportation. Whether you utilize a network of trains to get from point A to point B or as a carefree way to enjoy the countryside, consider taking your next long distance trip by train. Written by Maresa Giovannini. Photography provided by ©iStockphoto.com/Oleh_Slobodeniuk.
Scenic Heritage Rides
Love the idea of riding the rails the old-fashioned way? Look for day trips on historic locomotives that highlight the scenery or the specialty of a region. Find a train ride in your area or check out one of the following trips.
Napa Valley Wine Train Napa, California
Journey through the heart of California wine country while sipping a flight of reds and whites. The collection of circa-1915 train cars plays host to regular lunch and dinner rides as well as winery-sponsored events. www.winetrain.com
Great Smoky Mountains Railroad Bryson City, North Carolina
Hop aboard this restored steam engine (the largest model ever made) for a ride through the Nantahala Gorge. The tour is complete with music from traveling bluegrass musicians who might also tell the occasional Appalachian story. www.gsmr.com
The Kettle Valley Steam Railway Summerland, British Columbia
Experience an orchestrated train robbery on one of the tours available on the preserved section of this historic railway that pioneered the region’s fruit industry. www.kettlevalleyrail.org
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Raul Acuña - Raul has been in the Real Estate Industry since 2005. Raul began working at an REO brokerage before opening his own REO company in 2010. Raul has a business degree from Cal Poly Pomona, ....
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