People Who Travel By Train Do Things Differently.
I have often written that traveling by train — especially by long-distance train — is a very different, almost unique, travel experience. In fact, in many ways it’s an opposite experience compared to going by air.
The jet is just a mode of transportation taking you to the place where your vacation begins; the train trip is part of your vacation experience. Putting it another way, your vacation begins when you get on the train, but it doesn’t begin until you get off the plane.
That concept is not restricted to vacations, either. It applies for a trip to attend a conference or a business meeting. You board the train, settle into your roomette, and you have anywhere from several hours to two days for reviewing notes, planing a speech, and getting ready for your meetings.
Whenever the subject comes up and I tell someone I’ve just arrived in Chicago by Amtrak from Los Angeles, for example, I get a kind of dazed look and the invariable question, “How long did it take you?”
“Two days,” I say.
Then comes a kind of blank stare while he or she tries to visualize what it must be like to spend two days and two nights on a train. Some people get it right away. You can almost see the lightbulb go off. Others don’t.
I’ve noticed another curious thing: After arriving from a long-distance train ride, I don’t feel compelled to hurry up and “do something”. When I get to my hotel room, I relax. I unpack. I hang up my shirts so they won’t wrinkle. I take a shower … take a nap … watch a ballgame on TV or post something on my blog. I can do any or all of that at a leisurely pace because I’ve just spent one or two days crossing the country on the train … enjoying the scenery, chatting with interesting fellow passengers, and preparing for a NARP meeting, if that’s where I’m headed.
In any number of ways, I find I’m doing things differently from the folks who go through the grinding, stressful, generally unpleasant business of flying. Because I’ve got a two-day head start on ’em. I’ve come by train.