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Airports in major cities have become so fancy in recent years with their myriad of stores and eateries, spa services, and other novel experiences that killing time while waiting for a flight isn’t nearly the chore it used to be.
And while travelers don’t expect that they’ll have to kill nearly as much time waiting for a train as they do for a plane, any amount of time spent in your typical drab and soulless train station is painfully tedious. So when a train station has a little extra something going for it, we tend to take notice – perhaps because we’ve set the bar so low – but in the case of the following four stations, there’s something special that elevates them from depots to destinations in their own right. Read more
Winter time can prove to be an even bigger headache than usual for air travel. Blustering winds and pesky snowstorms regularly clog major air-hubs from New York City to Chicago (and everywhere in between), causing frustrating flight delays and cancellations. Spare yourself the stress of lengthy, invasive security procedures, and unreliable service by taking the train for your next getaway.
Fares for many of North America’s regional train lines are available for less this season. Here’s some of our favorite deals on rails.
Last week my family and I spent more than 15 hours on a round-trip Amtrak journey, our first major train ride together. Thanks to some simple planning, an above-average performance by Amtrak, and a little bit of luck, we had a pleasurable experience – one you and your brood can replicate if you keep the following tips in mind.
Pack light…and narrow
Amtrak permits two carry-on bags per passenger, and our party of five managed to limit our packing to eight pieces – three wheelie bags for our clothes and a backpack for each of us. We pack similarly for air and car travel, but in this case we used extra-narrow wheelie bags – enabling us to more easily navigate the train aisles and shove the bags into the overhead racks. The backpacks also left the grown-ups and my daughters free hands to grab hold of my son at crowded moments. Read more
Proof that Canada’s VIA Rail train is so much more than a basic commuter train? When you disembark, you’ll feel sad saying goodbye to the conductors.
Two of our favorites, who held court in touring class on VIA Rail’s “Skeena” route across mountainous, snow-capped British Columbia, were Patrick and Gilbert. They helped us with our bags, sure, but they also offered historical factoids, let us browse the library of provincial history books that they kept on board, and served wine. Gilbert even brought along flowers from his garden for the curved, vintage caboose car.
All the while, we traveled along the thundering Skeena River from Jasper, just over the British Columbia boarder in Alberta, to the charming coastal town of Prince Rupert. The entertainment, besides Patrick and Gilbert? Hundreds of miles of breathtaking scenery – untouched forest, show-capped mountains, the occasional ancient petroglyph, and the rusting remnants of Skeena River canneries. Read more
All aboard this fall for round-trip train travel on Amtrak’s Empire Service, which runs between New York City’s Pennsylvania Station and Albany-Rensselaer. This offer is valid for travel throughout October (except for October 5) to any stop between New York City and Albany, saving you 25% off current rates.
Pricing for round-trip fare for two (based on departures from Penn Station) is as follows:
- Poughkeepsie: $72 (weekdays), $84 (weekends)
- Rhinecliff-Kingston: $78 (weekdays), $91 (weekends)
- Hudson: $102 (weekdays), $119 (weekends)
- Albany-Rensselaer: $120 (weekdays), $140 (weekends)
With cool temperatures, brilliant fall foliage, and seasonal festivities such as pumpkin and apple picking, and hay rides, October is an ideal time to get away from the bustling city to a serene retreat upstate. The scenic train ride along the Hudson River makes for a relaxing trip.
Book online by July 31 on Amtrak’s website. Select your destination and travel dates for two people. Choose “Empire Service” itineraries and the 25% discount will automatically appear in the total price. This deal is also valid for one-way travel.
Book by July 31.
Grab a friend and board Amtrak’s Adirondack Line for a long weekend getaway in Montreal, Canada’s capital of culture. Buy two round-trip tickets from New York City starting at $189 – 25 percent off seasonal rates. This discounted rate is available for travel in September.
The Adirondack Line provides service between New York City’s Penn Station and Montreal’s Central Station. This scenic ride glides along the Hudson River, making stops at some of Upstate New York’s most charming riverside towns. After a stop in Albany, the train continues on through the stunning Adirondack Mountains before crossing the Canadian border into Quebec.
September serves as an ideal time to visit Montreal with average temperatures hovering around a comfortable 70 degrees. The end of September also marks the beginning of Canada’s fall foliage.
For some travelers, maps are strictly utilitarian – a way to get from point A to B without straying too far off course. But for Paris-based writer Mark Ovenden, author of Transit Maps of the World and Railway Maps of the World, cartographic appreciation is far more inspirational. “People who love traveling pick up my books and say ‘I was there, went there with so and so, that’s where we fell in love,’” Ovenden says. “I love the idea that maps can connect with people and connect with where they’ve been.”
The British broadcast journalist and map enthusiast spent his childhood amassing charts, diagrams, and railroad posters. Today, he’s turned that hobby into two surprise hit coffee table books. The most recent, a chronological collection of the world’s most intricate, influential, and artistic train charts titled Railway Maps of the World, debuted in the U.S. in April. In honor of its release, we chatted with Ovenden about maps, traveling, and his take on the future of the rails. Plus, details on how to win a copy of the book after the jump.
Dressing like the Queen of England isn’t necessarily advised – unless, of course, you’re sporting a traditional kilt. Starting this year, guests on Orient-Express’ The Royal Scotsman (one of our Top 10 Train Trips in Europe) may do just that. Kinloch Anderson, Her Royal Majesty’s kilt purveyor of choice, will let guests on the luxury train trip purchase handmade, wool skirts in their family tartan or the train’s own signature pattern, a mulberry, navy, and plum design. The service, starting at $310, sends travelers to a pre-departure fitting at Kinloch Anderson’s showroom, where kilts, argyle cut jackets, and tartan trousers await. The attire takes eight to 10 weeks to arrive, but guests may still don the traditional Scottish garb during the trip’s formal dinner, as Kinloch Anderson wares are available to borrow en-route.
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