Posted by Matt
Do you travel much? Do you take a lot of short distance flights? If your answer is "yes", consider train travel!
I have a lot of fond memories of the excitement of air travel when I was younger, but these days I mostly dread flying. Actually, the FLYING part is still pretty cool; I'm just not so jazzed about security checkpoints, baggage hassles and spending hours sweating on the tarmac while waiting for takeoff.
I had to take a trip to Seattle last year (I live in Portland) for work and thought it would be a great chance to experience train travel again. I remember childhood train travel even more fondly than air travel (because my father was a railroad engineer and I got to ride in the locomotive sometimes), but was pleasantly surprised to discover that, unlike air travel, very little has changed about the experience in the last three decades.
If you want to try it out, now is a good time. May 10th is National Train Day and you can bring a friend along for free! If that isn't enough to convince you, check out plenty of other incentives (highlights from my trip) below.
- The round-trip ticket was SUPER cheap: $68!
- Parking at the train station was cheaper than airport parking and right across the street from the station.
- The ticket counter lines were very short.
- No security checkpoint. I got to keep all my clothes on the whole time I was in the station!
- Not knowing what to expect, I arrived about 30 minutes prior to departure. I probably could have made it onto the train even if I had cut that to 15 minutes. I walked a total of about 300 feet from my car to my seat on the train.
- There was an electrical outlet next to my seat where I plugged in my laptop and I was not asked to turn off any of my electronic devices or cell phones at any time.
- Roomy seats! (I had a whole row to myself)
- I was able to wander the length of the train to stretch my legs.
- The dining car has a menu of cooked-to-order food.
- The air on a train is much fresher than the air on a plane (except for when you occasionally smell the brakes) and you can step outside whenever the train stops.
- The train ride itself was only 3.5 hours; a little longer than the flight, but less overall time spent for the whole trip.
It's a great experience and my wife and I actually decided to repeat the trip to visit a friend in Seattle. If you're still not convinced about how great train travel can be, you just need to talk to my two-year-old son.