Traveling by train is a vacation on its own; a romantic getaway of some sort. You get to watch as the world outside passes by and explore horizons as you make new friends and enjoy leisure foods and snacks. With the right preparation, vacationing by train can be pretty sweet and epic. A train from New York to Portland, for example, gives you multiple nights in the wild, which can be exhilarating and educative especially if you have the right attitude.
Note that you will need to make a flight itinerary and hotel reservation if you are crossing borders as those documents are mandatory for visa application processes. What else do you need to know about vacation by train?
1. You will need a pillow and a blanket
Although seats on most trains in the developed world are reasonably comfortable, you cannot bank on them for a good night’s sleep. Most trains do not offer sleeper packs to passengers as airlines do, so you will need to carry your own small travel pillow and a fleece blanket. You can’t be sure how cold it will get at night.
2. Research about discounts and deals
After identifying your vacation destination, it is important to research about the train company that offers the most favorable deals to your destination. There are different deals and discounts for different people, especially for kids and students. You could also be eligible for regional deals depending on where you come from.
If you can save 30% on your one-way train ticket, you will have more cash to spend on foods and drinks while still on board, or on sightseeing once you get to the actual vacation.
3. Bring your own snacks
Many long-distance trains offer food and snacks to passengers, and the food can be pretty delicious. However, the food is more often than not pricier than they are tasty. If money is the least of your problems, then you can eat the tasty but highly overpriced meals.
If you are traveling on a budget, on the other hand, it is safer to load up on all the snacks you will need for the journey before boarding. In fact, sometimes you can have the money but all there is on the menu is a stale microwave sandwich and some tasteless cereals. Better pack the snacks and not eat them because the food on the train is awesome than not pack any and then end up starving all day.
Most trains allow passengers to bring alcohol on board- you don’t have to drink their wildly overpriced beer.
4. You enjoy best without your phone
Although most modern trains have Wi-Fi, it is not advisable to keep flipping through your phone or tablet when vacationing by train. There is more joy in watching the world slide by on the windows. If you must use the phone, only use it to capture moments along the way.
Note that the tracks often wind through the wilderness, so there are many spectacular views that you’d rather witness with your eyes than take videos or images.
5. Understand the train’s luggage policy
Some trains have generous luggage policies; others are a bit strict as to how much baggage you can bring on board. This is the norm in the travel industry. Before you pack your bags, it is important to find out what is allowed on the train and what is prohibited.
For most trains, you won’t be charged extra for two bags and a few personal items, but you will be charged for each additional carry-on. If you will have to pay more if you have many pieces of luggage, you better squeeze everything in one or two suitcases.
6. Dress for comfort
Pack some yoga pants, a few t-shirts, a scarf, and a pair of cozy socks to sleep in. These are better than pajama pants because you can wear them even during the day. Depending on the time of year, you might need a light jacket.
Slipping through the wilderness, discovering new places, and touring the outskirts of different cities as you peer into people’s backyards is a lovely adventure. Experiencing small farming towns and some super remote neighborhoods and watching sunsets over hills and mountains is a dream come true for many travelers. If you are lucky to live this dream, be sure to enjoy it to the fullest.