Motivation for traveling by train?

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Kbyrdleroydogg

Train Attendant
Joined
May 27, 2017
Messages
65
Location
Chicago, IL
What is your motivation for traveling by train?
If someone says it is a waste of time and you could get to where you're going faster by plane, what would you tell them?
 

mitako

Train Attendant
Joined
May 21, 2018
Messages
96
My main motivation is extreme phobia of flying, although to be honest, I am also pretty nervous aboard the train at times when the track gets rough. But after several LD trips, including Coast Starlight, CA Zephyr, and Empire Builder, I now love the journey itself. You sit back and relax while gazing at scenery that can be truly spectacular. Some of the LD trains go through scenery that you just can't see from a car or bus, and of course there is really no scenery on a plane.

However, I do always caution people considering a train trip that they need to expect delays and that it is insanely expensive to book a sleeper. I know a lot of people who would never consider the train, because they only care about arriving at their destination as soon as possible. But I know others who are very intrigued by the idea of the journey itself being part of the experience, and there is a certain romance to a LD train trip that is certainly not part of an airplane trip.
 

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Joined
Aug 8, 2015
Messages
3,703
Location
Los Angeles
What is your motivation for traveling by train?
If someone says it is a waste of time and you could get to where you're going faster by plane, what would you tell them?
I’d have to say they are correct for the most part. But it’s a good way to kick back, enjoy some of that time that I ruin by rushing from here to there. Take that time to smell the roses so to speak.
 

amtkstn

OBS Chief
Joined
Nov 2, 2008
Messages
738
Location
OK
Not having to deal with security, getting to walk around trains and meeting fellow passenger. The thing I like the most is eating in the diner on a long distance train. You never know who your meet. No wear and tear on the car. If you drive somewhere you are wore out when you get there and want to stop to see things on the way.
 

Stremba

Train Attendant
Joined
Apr 27, 2022
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56
Location
Crafton
All of what has already been discussed is part of it, but personally, I am a larger person. Cramming myself into airplane seats is not particularly comfortable for me. Trains are much roomier. Luggage is also a consideration on some trips. You can bring a lot more (and larger) luggage on a train without baggage fees than you can on a plane.
 

plane2train

Train Attendant
Joined
Apr 6, 2015
Messages
31
Primarily, I use the train to see the country. For me, it doesn't serve as a good replacement for flying, unless I'm going to/from New Orleans on the Crescent, as the schedules are pretty unattractive out of Atlanta and force me into a sleeper, which I can't always afford. I love the train and our country's landscapes, though, and I would have never seen what I have seen unless I were on the train.
 

fillyjonk

OBS Chief
Joined
Mar 10, 2011
Messages
546
Where I am traveling from, it's harder to get to an airport than to the train station, and much more expensive to leave my car. Also, I would fly into (most of the time) a smaller market, and at least in past years, a plane ticket cost as much as a roomette. (Plus the cost of leaving my car, etc.). Also luggage restrictions are less - I can have a larger carry on (especially with a roomette) and no one is going to confiscate the little scissors in my knitting kit, or tell me I can't bring that size of a bottle of water with me....

I also dislike flying strongly. I am somewhat claustrophobic, I have sinus issues that make having big pressure changes unpleasant, I don't like the crush of humanity at airports....Also, even though it's much-discussed that "statistically planes are safer" they do not FEEL safer to me - one of the last flights I took went through a thunderstorm and that was not pleasant.
 
Joined
Nov 24, 2005
Messages
1,258
Location
Jacksonville, FL
I have been traveling by train since 1948, the year I was born. I also flew on many business trips during the 40 years of my career, but continued to travel by train. Travel by train is much more relaxing and less stressful than even first class on an airplane. I have enjoyed the scenery and traveling through areas where trains no longer run. Amtrak is not as user friendly as the some of the trains operated by the railroads, but it is still a very positive experience.
 
Joined
Feb 15, 2020
Messages
12
I agree with most of these answers! My once in a life time cross country trip was made by train. I don't like to fly for the big one. Half of my 15 day trip was on the train! The EB was fabulous for scenery and just hanging out! I went during covid so didn't get good food and stayed in the roomette most of the time. I loved getting out and stepping onto different states. Very corny, I know but to have the chance to breathe the air in Minot, Havre or Sand Point. Skyscrapers of Chicago, bridges over the Mississippi, Glacier National and through the cascades and along Puget Sound! Even the vastness of the plains were amazing to pass by. I wish I could go again but dang they really jumped the price!
 

MccfamschoolMom

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Feb 28, 2020
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Dwight, IL
and no one is going to confiscate the little scissors in my knitting kit
What do you carry your knitting in on the train? I have tons of tote bags I pack crochet projects in for road trips, but I recently also found (& purchased) a "knitting backpack" I saw on Amazon. I'll be taking it on a "test run" when I visit my mom in Wisconsin this weekend, and plan to use it instead of a tote bag for crochet supplies on the California Zephyr next year. I'm reckoning that it'll be easier to carry through stations and on/off trains than a tote bag, as it won't be slipping off my shoulder.
 

MccfamschoolMom

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Joined
Feb 28, 2020
Messages
360
Location
Dwight, IL
For my wife and I, the train is part of the vacation. Not just a way to get there.
Agree totally. My husband knows I've always enjoyed train rides, and requested that we make plans to take the California Zephyr next year because of the en-route scenery, not because of the destination. (No sightseeing plans for SF after arriving on the westbound CZ -- just a good night's rest & rinsing out the undies in the closest possible hotel to the Emeryville trains station, before boarding the eastbound CZ the next day.)
 

vinceg723

Train Attendant
Joined
Jun 12, 2009
Messages
35
No other form of travel offers quite a connection with the landscape and with fellow passengers. I’ve seen parts of this country that can only be seen from the train, and I’ve had the most fascinating conversations on trains — everyone has an interesting story.

There‘s no question we need high-speed rail in this country, but I do find something special in the slowness of our trains.
 

rs9

Service Attendant
Joined
Dec 26, 2021
Messages
144
Location
Chicago
I imagine most respondents here are sleeper passengers - I live in Chicago but have connections to upstate NY and the east coast. I've switched my plane travel to the Lake Shore Limited purely for environmental reasons, but I will admit there's something appealing about the slower pace of travel on Amtrak. I've only traveled in business class so far and will be trying coach this August with the current removal of business class from the LSL.

My LSL trips are one of the few times in life in which there's nothing next for me to do, and I can truly sit back and do absolutely nothing without worrying about what I'm not taking care of.
 

freejak

Train Attendant
AU Supporting Member
Joined
Jun 13, 2022
Messages
16
I use the train for 'medium' to LD business travel. Yes, apparently the lone Amtrak passenger to do so. ;) I counter the "It's a waste of time." people with "So what did *you* get done on your drive from Pittsburgh to Philly/DC/NYC???". Yeah, what I thought; you drove. Period. And so now you've had to deal with city traffic at both ends, done 5 to 8 hours of driving and are fatigued/cranky. Otherwise you've got nothing. I am highly productive on the train. (If I feel like it!) I have had great views. I've had a very comfortable trip. How often is that possible in cars of today? And unless you're dropping even hugher (if that's a word) cash for a first class airline ticket, I've spent less. I am not whipped from the drive and, seriously, won't be a menace to myself and other drivers if I have to return the same day. Oh yeah, btw, I arrive in downtown wherever I'm going, not at an airport where arriving passengers now have the 'joy' of arranging to get to downtown. Probably involving at least another hour. (Plus the hours of getting to the originating airport, infinite hassle, and hours of waiting around there...) So who's 'wasting the time'?
 

mitako

Train Attendant
Joined
May 21, 2018
Messages
96
What do you carry your knitting in on the train? I have tons of tote bags I pack crochet projects in for road trips, but I recently also found (& purchased) a "knitting backpack" I saw on Amazon. I'll be taking it on a "test run" when I visit my mom in Wisconsin this weekend, and plan to use it instead of a tote bag for crochet supplies on the California Zephyr next year. I'm reckoning that it'll be easier to carry through stations and on/off trains than a tote bag, as it won't be slipping off my shoulder.
My hubby brings a sketchpad, variety of drawing pencils and erasers, and a book of drawing lessons on our train trips, and he spends a good deal of time on our LD trips working through the drawing lessons. It amazes me that he's able to turn out good results considering all the jolts and bumps of the train. He never draws at home, it's just his train thing.

He originally only took the train for my sake, but has come to enjoy it for himself as well. He looks forward to it as a time of complete relaxation away from work, with nothing to do but sketch, read, have a beer or two, and visit the dining car.
 

Barb Stout

Conductor
Joined
Mar 13, 2019
Messages
1,090
Location
Albuquerque, NM
There are a few other threads that ask/answer this or similar question. One of them was "Why trains instead of planes?" I copied my answer from that thread to here:
1. Not as bad on climate change as is flying.
2. I don't have to take my shoes off and unpack a bunch of stuff going through TSA and thus don't have to put up with other passengers (or TSA) getting mad at me when I'm slow.
3. Passengers and crew aren't as cranky on trains as they are on airplanes.
4. I haven't gotten any respiratory sickness (or any other) during/after train trips which I do about 50% of the times that I have flown. I attribute that to the sardine-like nature of packing into the planes.
5. Trains are roomier. Even this tiny person has troubles on a plane; I just can't imagine what a tall person goes through.
6. I don't have to pay extra to check my luggage. I'm small and don't like to lug a lot of things around, so I always check my baggage when flying.
7. If I'm taking a sleeper, I get a massage all night long.
8. I like the aspect of being "forced" to share a booth with other people during meals. This encourages my introverted nature to practice conversation with others. I have met a number of very interesting people because of the diner car.
9. I LOVE gazing at the scenery. We have such a beautiful country.
10. I get to walk around as much as I like and climb stairs to try to stay in shape.
11. Often when I take a plane, my sinuses experience pain during the ascent and descent due to the sudden air pressure changes. Although, sometimes my ears pop when going up and down in the mountains on the train, there is no associated pain with that.

These are the reasons that first came to my mind; there may be others that are a bit more buried in my brain. Overall, I would say riding a long distance train is a treat whereas flying is a unpleasant burden.
 

Eric in East County

Lead Service Attendant
AU Supporting Member
Joined
Jan 20, 2016
Messages
470
Location
East San Diego County
Here’s what we’re looking forward to our upcoming trip from San Diego to Ohio:

The ocean views as seen from a Pacific Surfliner train.

Listening to the crew on our scanner.

The historical ambience of Los Angeles Union Station.

Getting settled in our Southwest Chief bedroom.

Deciding what to order from the dining car menu.

The scenery in Arizona and New Mexico.

Tracking our train’s progress on our GPS device and route map.

The passage through Apache Canyon in New Mexico.

Crossing the Mississippi River.

Seeing Midwest corn fields and farms.

Riding on a Red Cap’s cart through Chicago Union Station.

Writing a trip report once we get home.

Eric & Pat
 

fillyjonk

OBS Chief
Joined
Mar 10, 2011
Messages
546
What do you carry your knitting in on the train? I have tons of tote bags I pack crochet projects in for road trips, but I recently also found (& purchased) a "knitting backpack" I saw on Amazon. I'll be taking it on a "test run" when I visit my mom in Wisconsin this weekend, and plan to use it instead of a tote bag for crochet supplies on the California Zephyr next year. I'm reckoning that it'll be easier to carry through stations and on/off trains than a tote bag, as it won't be slipping off my shoulder.
I have a number of small drawstring cloth bags for small projects (which is what I usually take)
 
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