What’s So Special About Train Travel?

Of course it’s much too late now, but I wish I had kept track of the number of miles I’ve traveled by train over the years. My best guess? More than 300,000 miles. People are surprised when they hear that and I always suggest they should try taking a long-distance train somewhere and find out for themselves.

Most of the time they say, ”Well,  maybe . . . one of these days” and I know they have no serious intention of ever doing so. I keep wondering why and I think I’ve come up with one of the main reasons: 

They think they’ll be bored.

And that is ridiculous! A long-distance train ride is not just another mode of transportation. It’s a big part of your entire vacation experience. 

Let me say that again, because it’s the key to the whole idea of train travel:

A long-distance train ride is not just a means of reaching the place where your vacation begins; it is a big part of your whole vacation experience. 

After leaving  Denver, the westbound California Zephyr follows the Colorado River for more than five hours through a series of rocky canyons. 

On the way down to San Diego, just 100 yards on the right side of the train, you can see people surfing in the Pacific Ocean. 

Heading west out of New Orleans, the Sunset Limited crosses the Mississippi River on a bridge that’s four miles long and almost 300 feet high.

After leaving New York City, the Lake Shore Limited follows the Hudson River for two hours, almost all the way to Albany.

But when you’re traveling on one of Amtrak’s long-distance trains, you’ll find that an equally enjoyable part of the experience will be sharing a table in the dining car with your fellow passengers three times a day.  And—trust me on this—you just never know who you’ll be dining with.

For instance, one beautiful Fall morning, heading west on the Empire Builder, I discovered I was having breakfast with a man and woman from Granby, Connecticut, who own and run a B&B that’s immediately next door to the house where both my father and grandfather were born.

And that is why I love to travel by train!


  1. I’ve been an Amtrak fan for years now. There’s really no other way I’d rather travel whenever I have the choice. Nothing compares to seeing places cars don’t go! The trip I’m planning next will be the Coast Starlight (again) with a connection to the California Zephyr.

    1. Thanks for the note. My apologies for the lack of a reply until now. Have a great trip! Let me know how it goes.

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