This blog post was updated on October 26, 2018.
When it comes to traversing great expanses of land, it doesn’t get much better than doing it by train.
Imagine the gentle whirring of the train in motion, the light rocking as you drink your coffee or your tea, or perhaps the new friends you meet while in the dining car.
Train travel was the ultimate adventure some 50 years ago, but today it appears to be more of a novelty since high speed budget airlines have made cheap flights so appealing and affordable.
But, to those that are tempted by the idea of getting somewhere fast, I urge you to take a different route; go by train.
You see more than clouds. Hopping from one place to another by plane will only result in you seeing clouds from above. What about the rolling hillside? How about the scenic mountain passes? Taking the train puts you at ground level so you can actually take in a location instead of bypassing it. In Australia, for example, I just don’t feel like people can get a true feeling for the country until they have seen the vast expanse of nothingness that makes up a majority of the area. Australia’s island getaways and pristine beaches possess a beauty that is starkly contrasting to what one will experience when taking the train from Sydney to Perth where you cross the Nullarbor Plain and occasionally happen upon abandoned outback stations.
You can stretch your legs out. Not only can you stretch your legs out, you can actually get up and walk around a train. Technically, you can walk around a plane, too, but there is seriously minimal space, not to mention the occasions when the seatbelt sign is illuminated and you are told to remain seated. Walking around a train often brings you to lounge areas and dining cars, or just provides a bit of needed exercise. You may be stuck on a train for a few days, but you won’t feel like it, especially when you’re sleeping comfortably in your sleeper carriage bed, which also offers plenty of leg room.
You can socialize. Unlike planes, trains are a socialable form of transportation. Sure, you might strike up a conversation with your neighbor on the flight, but it usually is a little uncomfortable with the side-by-side seating and the way that others nearby might be trying to snooze. On a train, the dining and lounge areas, in addition to seating that faces each other in carriages, adds to the ability to socialize on an open scale. You just might end up sharing a bottle of vodka with locals in Ukraine or meeting some new friends and travel partners while riding the rails.
You can relax. To me, the gentle sounds and motions of a working train are likened to the crashing waves at a beach. I can easily relax with a book, clear my mind by watching the passing scenery, or let the atmosphere lull me to sleep. It’s this same feeling that is mentioned in Suzy’s article on train travel in Europe and definitely a little joy of train travel I will never get tired of.
Read more about train travel: A Return to the Romance of the Rails
Why do you enjoy long-distance train travel?