Getting the Most from Your Train Trip

What is it that makes a long-distance train ride such an enjoyable experience? Seeing the country is the big one, of course. It’s simply not possible to appreciate how varied this country is until you have crossed it several times on several different Amtrak routes.

I still enjoy the incredible scenic variety this country has to offer. I’ve done it so many times that passing through a spectacular vista, while still enjoyable, is no longer a new experience for me.

What is new—and always delightful—is sitting down and sharing a meal with two or three other passengers and getting up from the table an hour or so later realizing that you’ve just made three new friends.

Here’s a perfect example that just now came to me in an email:

Dear Jim,

My husband and I had the pleasure of dining with you on a train several months ago. I would like to share a story with you.

After our meal on that train, I reached for my sewing basket and was disappointed to realize I had all my supplies except my needles, which were in checked baggage. With no alternative, I walked through the railcars looking for any Mennonite woman who might be willing to part with a spare needle.  

I found not one, but two Mennonite families. They thought it so amusing that I knew exactly where to find an embroidery needle on an Amtrak train, and we engaged in some wonderful conversation about piecing quilts, better techniques for seams, and the disappearing art of embroidery.

The entire experience was delightfully pleasant and would never have happened with any other mode of travel. 



This delightful story won’t come as a surprise to anyone who has traveled on one of Amtrak’ s long-distance trains.  The secret to getting the most possible pleasure from a long-distance train ride is getting to know some of your fellow passengers.