With overbooked airplanes, the introduction of baggage fees, skyrocketing gas prices and tight travel budgets, getting to Grandma’s house this holiday season has become more stressful and less comfortable than ever. As travelers everywhere concentrate on finding the best deal on travel prices, many are doing without travel amenities that once came standard with air and auto travel. In some cases, the cost and stress becomes so overwhelming that holiday trips to visit family are canceled altogether.
Fortunately, consumer train service is once again bridging the gap between comfort and affordability. Although since the popularity of air travel took over in the ’50s train passenger numbers have declined drastically, travel by train has once again become a viable option for people looking for affordable fares and comfortable accommodations.
With an astounding number of train stations nation-wide, fare rates from 30% to 50% less than the cost of a standard airline ticket*, the ability to carry on and check multiple pieces of baggage at no charge and comfortable seating, travel by train is becoming more attractive to travelers who are tired of being cramped, starved and uncomfortable. Train services make travel feel more personal and individualized, which is a fresh departure from the generic cookie-cutter herding that passengers have come to expect from airlines.
Virtually every travel need is met on the train through the availability of sleeping rooms, private suites, fully inclusive vacation packages, dining and snack cars, handicap access and more. Although there are dozens of ways to upgrade your trip, even the most economical seats wow commuters with reclining seats and dedicated laptop plug-ins for work and entertainment on the go.
Although travel time is longer than standard commercial air travel, travel by train is designed to relax passengers and allow them to enjoy the scenery without having to worry about traffic, gas prices or managing long lines at terminal gates. Kid friendly and with plenty of room to store a bag filled with holiday gifts, train travel gives passengers a sense of excitement and adventure as they explore the world around them in a whole new (and decidedly nostalgic) way.
Taking cues from the airline industry, Amtrak has also started a travel rewards program. After joining Amtrak Guest Rewards, every trip you take on the rails of an Amtrak train awards you points that you can redeem for free upgrades on future trips, support Carbonfund.org, hotel gift cards car rental certificates and more.
All of the benefits of train travel make continuing to pay inflated airfares, checked baggage fees and standing in line for a pat-down at the airport even less appealing than it’s already become. This holiday season when you are comparing travel options, include train travel in your considerations. You and your family may find that traveling the rails gets you to your holiday destination in the style and comfort that you’ve always wished for.
*Comparing train and airline rates from Portland, Oregon to Seattle Washington through Amtrak and Hotwire.