Train Travel- 5 Reasons Why We Love It!

When I was a kid, my family took a trip to Jasper, a small town in the Canadian Rocky Mountains. We’d been to Jasper many times, but this time was different. This time we took the train. The scenery we got to see- quiet lakes, jagged mountains- was unlike anything we ever saw from the highway. Since that trip, I have wanted to do more travelling by train.

When it came to deciding where to go for our honeymoon, we talked a bit about Costa Rica. I even had a romantic hotel picked out. Yet, I couldn’t shake my dream of wanting to see Europe by train.

So we put off Costa Rica and instead spent five weeks travelling around Europe by train. We saw big cities, small medieval villages, landscapes so pristine and beautiful it was like looking at a painting.

There really is something romantic about travelling by train. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but maybe it’s because it takes me back to a simpler time. We found ourselves constantly comparing train travel to flying, and in every way, trains were winning out.

travelyesplease.com | Five Reasons Why We Love Train Travel

Train Travel is Comfortable

I am not a fan of flying. It’s not because I’m fearful of it, but because I hate feeling trapped. I’m squished into a narrow chair, that barely reclines. I can’t stretch my legs because the seat in front of me is in my lap. Not only physically trapped, I soon am trapped by my own guilt, unsure if I am the one who’s entitled to the armrest or not.

Compared to airplanes, trains are far more spacious. The seats are wider (and often more comfortable) plus there’s a lot more leg room. Many trains have seats that face each other with a table in the middle. This was great for me, as I could easily spread out my books and catch up on my journal writing. I could even set up my laptop and edit some photos.

The trains were also not very crowded, at least when we travelled in September. I loved having an empty seat next to me so that I could sprawl out, even lay down and have a nap. I am far less grumpy on arrival when I travel by train than when I fly!

travelyesplease.com | Five Reasons Why We Love Train Travel

Train Travel is Flexible

Most trains don’t require you to make a reservation which means you can just show up, buy a ticket and get on board. There also is a lot of choice when it comes to departure times. Most destinations offer multiple trains a day, the most popular ones having at least one train an hour, if not more.

The rail network in Europe is vast, which drastically increases your travel options. Even the smallest towns are connected by railroad.

Train Travel is Hassle Free

Forget waiting in long security lines. At the train station, you simply walk in and board your train. We didn’t have to walk through any body scanners, our luggage didn’t need to be x-rayed or searched. This means there’s no need to arrive hours before your departure time, like with airlines. In fact, on our first train trip, we hopped on board just as the doors were closing behind us!

It’s also much easier to pack for train travel than air travel. There are no limits on baggage weight, so you don’t have to worry about being hit with those pesky fees. This was good news for us because both Mike and I are notorious for over-packing. The standard amount of luggage allowed is two large items per person. There are also no restrictions on liquids, so bring as much shampoo as you want!

Even though there are no weight restrictions on luggage, I highly recommend you pack light. We found it difficult to hoist our bags up from the platform to the train, which is usually a pretty big step. Plus, the train is not always flush with the platform, making it even more difficult (and slightly unsafe) to get our luggage on board.

Now, for my favourite thing about train travel- your luggage never gets lost! I had peace of mind knowing that my belongings were safely on the train with me, always within my view. Trains have overhead storage racks, plus storage areas at the end of the car. Since the trains were rarely crowded, Mike and I would keep our luggage on the floor, in the row beside us.

travelyesplease.com | Five Reasons Why We Love Train Travel

Train Travel is Efficient

I am all about efficiency. So much so, that I jokingly refer to myself as an efficiency coordinator.

I expect things to be on schedule. When it comes to airlines, I don’t feel like my time is respected. Delayed departures, even cancelled flights, have unfortunately become a common occurrence. During our five weeks in Europe, we only had one train that was off schedule, and it was by a minimal amount, only a few minutes. Part of the reason trains are more reliable, is because they are not as dependent on the weather the way airplanes are.

The other great thing about trains, is that they take you right into the heart of the city. The stations are often just a short walk away from all the main attractions. This is great because it saves money on cabs and time on additional transportation.

Train Travel is Relaxing

When you’re on a train, the only thing you need to do it sit back and enjoy the scenery (check out ride along the scenic Alaska Railroad). Unlike cars, there’s no traffic to deal with and you don’t have to worry about taking a wrong turn and getting lost. On a train, you get to see countryside you often wouldn’t see if you were driving the highway or flying thousands of miles in the air.

Train travel is also more social. We found it easy to converse with fellow passengers, passing the time by trading travel stories and learning about each other’s home countries.

travelyesplease.com | Five Reasons Why We Love Train Travel

This was our view on the way to Hallstatt, Austria.

If I could solely travel by train, I would. Unfortunately, the rail network is not as established in North America, where we live. It usually is just as expensive (or more) than flying and comes with some of the same luggage restrictions as airlines do. So until my next visit to Europe, I guess I will have to endure air travel.

Resources to Plan Your European Train Trip

Purchases made through the following links earn us a small commission, at no extra cost to you, and help support this website.

European Rail Passes

Non-European citizens or residents can purchase a Eurail Pass for train travel in Europe. You can choose between many different passes including a Global Pass (to visit 5 or more countries), Select Pass (visit 2,3 or 4 bordering countries), or a One Country Pass. When purchasing your rail pass, you will also have to select between a continuous pass (allows you to travel by train every day during the period your pass is valid) or a flexi pass (allows a specific number of travel days which can be used any time during a fixed period).

If you’ve decided that a Eurail Pass is right for your train travel Europe, here is an official vendor where you can purchase your Eurail pass online and have it shipped to you.


 

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  • Frank - Good post and totally agree – we love train travel in Europe for all the reasons you state. The only thing I don’t like is fighting with ticket machines…sometimes you can’t get a real person.
    Frank (bbqboy)February 15, 2014 – 10:10 amReplyCancel

    • Rhonda Krause - We had a rail pass so luckily we didn’t have to worry about that.February 15, 2014 – 10:27 amReplyCancel

  • Iain - A brilliant article.

    I couldn’t have said it any better. So I didn’t.

    I’ve linked to this article from the home page of http://www.100trains.com – I hope that you don’t mind.March 2, 2014 – 1:51 pmReplyCancel

  • Becky Padmore - You’ve convinced me! Look at those views! March 3, 2014 – 9:08 amReplyCancel

  • Bridget @ GreenGlobalTravel - I agree- I’ve always loved trains! Its a great way to travel, especially in Europe where the system is so developed. Thanks for sharing!March 4, 2014 – 5:59 pmReplyCancel

  • Jennifer - I do think you got very lucky to not encounter any strikes. I’ve lived in Europe for five years now and strikes are far too common. I’ve been late because of delayed trains or gotten stuck and not been able to get home at all due to the lovely strikes, which can happen at any time without notice.March 19, 2014 – 5:48 pmReplyCancel

  • Bryanna Plog - 5 for 5! Love train travel as well, perhaps also because it is still a novelty for us in the U.S. and does seem nostalgic. The mere sound of the click-clack is something that makes me want to explore far more than any other form of transport. Hoping I can do a cross-country trip across the U.S. this year and sometime want to do the same across Australia!March 25, 2014 – 7:03 pmReplyCancel

    • Rhonda Krause - I think a cross country train trip would be amazing, both in the US and Canada. If I could travel everywhere by train, I probably would never fly again! Trains are way more comfortable!March 25, 2014 – 7:09 pmReplyCancel

  • Lisa Cheek Temple - I haven’t had the pleasure of traveling by train in Europe, and train travel is severely limited in the southern U.S. where I live. However, I have taken several long distance train trips in the U.S. (Birmingham to Boston, B’ham to Chicago, B’ham to New York) and I’m hooked! Well done on the article. You are singing to the choir!May 9, 2014 – 3:28 amReplyCancel

    • Rhonda Krause - I really wish the train networks were more extensive (and affordable) in Canada as well. It’s such a relaxing way to travel! Thanks for reading!May 9, 2014 – 11:41 amReplyCancel

  • Jeff Titelius - One of my most cherished European memories is when we hopped onboard on the Artesia Train for an overnight adventure from Florence to Paris! It was such a fantastic journey, we had our cabin and our butler made our dinner reservations! I LOVED LOVED LOVED watching out the windows as we tunneled through the Alps and emerged on stunning vistas of lakes and villages!! I will never forget that journey, so romantic, so relaxing, truly an unexpected adventure that I hope to relive one day soon!June 16, 2014 – 5:28 pmReplyCancel

    • Rhonda Krause - That sounds like a wonderful trip- especially the part about the butler! Must have been a fancy train! I’ve yet to try an overnight train, since I worry that I wouldn’t sleep well.June 16, 2014 – 5:43 pmReplyCancel

  • Iain - “The other great thing about trains, is that they take you right into the heart of the city.”

    This is one fact that is often overlooked when people are comparing air/rail travel.

    And it’s not just the cost in money terms.

    I’m always being told that air travel is just so much quicker. Yes, in many cases, getting from runway to runway is indeed faster.

    Added to this is usually pre and post flight time spent at the airports.

    What is often overlooked, though, is the time and hassle of travelling between airports and city centres.

    Give me a train any day. Stroll up to the train, sit down, read a book, walk around, eat, drink, snooze. In a word: RELAX!!!!

    Travel should be fun and enjoyable.

    Coming from Europe (Scotland), I realise that I’m very spoiled when it comes to rail network coverage. Trains go just about everywhere. I don’t, for one minute, take this for granted.

    Jeff. Did you write/blog about the Artesia?

    Rhonda. There’s been a bit of a redesign here, and I’ve just realised that the link to this article has “gone”. Will think of a way to permanently include it somehow.June 17, 2014 – 12:29 amReplyCancel

    • Rhonda Krause - Train travel is far more convenient and comfortable than plane travel. I also find that people are much more pleasant and friendly on trains than on airplanes because they’re not crammed into such a tiny space and made to abide by so many rules and restrictions. If I could travel everywhere by train I would, but unfortunately the ocean gets in the way!

      I was so happy that your site linked to this post and it would be great if you could include it in the new design. I hope to convince more people to discover the joys of train travel!

      We’re taking a train in Alaska this summer from Denali National Park to Anchorage and I can’t wait!June 17, 2014 – 10:37 amReplyCancel

  • Iain - Rhonda. I wouldn’t worry about not being able to sleep on a night train.
    There’s just something about the rocking movement that makes sleep so comfortable (probably a subconscious reminder of babyhood).

    And if you have remembered your corkscrew, sleep won’t be hard to come by. :0)June 17, 2014 – 12:36 amReplyCancel

  • Iain - Amen to that Rhonda. I think that deep down most people are quite sociable. They are just too rushed/stressed to talk to strangers most of the time. Put the same people on a train, with all the time in the world, and the smiles will soon reappear.

    Plus. The grass is always greener…

    June 17, 2014 – 3:03 pmReplyCancel

  • Julie - Rhonda – Your photos are exquisite!! I am planning a Spring break 12 day trip to Austria with my almost 17 year old grandson. Austria was his choice and since I have not been, that is where we decided to go. We will visit Vienna, Graz and Salzburg traveling by train between cities. I ran across your blog and I thank you for it. Your hits and misses were informative – loved that part. We are each taking one suitcase and one carry on each from Los Angeles. Looking forward to a wonderful adventure!!! Can’t wait.February 28, 2015 – 2:34 amReplyCancel

    • Rhonda Krause - Thanks so much, Julie! Austria is so beautiful and you’ll get to see a lot of great scenery from the train. I’m sure you both will have a wonderful trip. Enjoy!March 1, 2015 – 1:58 pmReplyCancel

  • CultureTripper.com - All so true! I’ve got great memories of traveliing around Europe by train. And in North America. Can I add another reason to love trains? The relaxing rhythm/sound of the train compared to that nerve-shearing ambient noise inside aircraft. European trains may not compare costwise with low-cost carriers like Ryanair but sometimes travel really is about the journey, not the destination. I’d love to ride the Ghan across Australia. No train trip is too long for this rail lover!April 8, 2015 – 11:43 pmReplyCancel

  • Mark Warrick - Couldn’t agree more. I live in the UK so European train travel is my norm: I seldom fly and I drive as little as I can get away with. Do see my stories at http://www.mwtrips.blogspot.co.uk if you are interested – I think it will support all your points. Switzerland and Britain have the densest rail networks and France the fastest.November 29, 2015 – 9:54 pmReplyCancel

  • Danial - Your last point hits it right on the spot. Train travel gives you the space & time to just clear your mind and zone out. The panorama helps compared to the tin can nature of airplanes.January 29, 2016 – 5:03 amReplyCancel

  • Fateme - Yesterday I had an exam and the writing part is about traveling. Your post is really helpful for me. I wanna say thank you for sharing your feeling in your  lovely trip. I like traveling by train too.
    With best wishes?from Iran.September 9, 2018 – 10:01 pmReplyCancel

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