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Essential Tips for Planning Train Trips

Train trip planning might sound like a daunting task but once you get your act together, there are many advantages to train travel that make it worth the effort. With someone else doing the driving, plenty of leg room and an opportunity to relax versus stressing about traffic or directions, train travel is a fun and eco-friendly alternative to flying.

For the most relaxed experience, you can book one of Amtrak’s premade vacation packages that have everything scheduled for you. You can still decide what sights to see and where to stay but you won’t have to worry about calling a cab or booking a hotel if your plans go awry. This is especially helpful if you’re on a longer, cross-country route where Amtrak shares tracks with massive freight trains that have priority.

It’s best to pack for a range of weather conditions, even when going on a short train ride. If your trip is in winter, for example, bring a heavy-duty fleece blanket, a warm jacket and comfortable shoes. And since long train rides can be exhausting, consider packing a sleeping bag, eye mask and earplugs if you plan to sleep aboard the train.

On scenic routes, you can splurge on first class seats that offer more elbow room and amenities. However, these tickets can add up quickly, so keep your budget in mind if you’re taking a luxury train trip.

When deciding on the length of your train trip, you should take into account that some train passes only allow you to travel in certain segments within a given time period. If you’re limiting yourself to a 30-day rail pass, for instance, it’s important to count and keep track of your segments so you can return to your starting point before the time limit runs out.

It’s also worth keeping in mind that Amtrak trains travel almost exclusively on the tracks of freight railroads, which are not under the control of Amtrak. This can lead to unforeseen delays. If this sort of delay is a major concern for you, consider chatting with people in the travel or tourism industries along your preferred routes to learn more about whether a particular train is known for being punctual.

For many people, the greatest benefit of train trips is the opportunity to immerse themselves in their destination. With the right itinerary, you can spend a week in a ski resort town such as St Anton or Zermatt, explore cliffside villages on the Cinque Terre in Italy or travel on a train to the spectacular Norwegian fjords. Alternatively, you can base yourself in cheaper places like Nice or Edinburgh and use the train to visit pricier destinations for day trips.

With rising fuel costs, higher airfares and a desire to reduce carbon emissions, more people are choosing train travel as an alternative to flying. If you’re considering a train trip for business, proper training can help you navigate the process smoothly.