Top 10 Reasons: Rail Travel Rocks

26 Jan
Like the Acela, but cooler.

Like the Acela, but a wee bit slower, and with less leg room. Still better than flying.

Top 10: Reasons Trains Beat Planes in Rochambeau*

  1. Even when someone reclines their seat, I still have an extra foot of arm-room for my laptop.
  2. I don’t have to wait for a flight attendant when I’m thirsty. Two words: Cafe Car.
  3. No seatbelts. Or annoying announcements from the pilot telling you to put them on.
  4. The bathroom is large enough to install a phone and conduct business. Tip: If you board at the originating station, consider locking yourself in the commode and treating it as your private office for the duration of your trip. I think this is – literally – where the term “Squatter’s Rights” comes from.
  5. The Quiet Car: no one can talk, use a cell phone, play music without headphones, etc. While you might think this is awesome because you can work uninterrupted or take a nap, the real reason it rocks is witnessing the enforcement of the rule. If you’ve ever wanted to see an introvert on a power-trip unleash a can of whoop-ass, this is where to sit. For supporting evidence, read this
  6. If you’re not in the Quiet Car, the best thing is eavesdropping. Last night I overheard one woman describe the BRAT diet and a guy get quoted $900 for a one-day rental car. I also heard someone offer up their credit card digits (including the security code and expiration date) and wondered how many people actually wrote it down.
  7. No TSA workers to flag me for a random screening. Getting to board without taking my shoes off, pulling out my laptop and removing my coat? Amazing. Not having to limit my liquids to 3 oz in a plastic baggie? Priceless.
  8. No “unplanned landings” caused by obnoxious passengers midair. On Amtrak, if someone becomes unruly, they can just get tossed off the train at the next stop without delaying anyone.
  9. My seat cushion doesn’t double as a life preserver. (BTW: is that not like the most twisted version of “Would You Rather?” Your options: would you rather a) Drown after surviving a plane crash, or b) Float in icy, shark-infested water with a cushion that has absorbed countless farts pressed to your face?)
  10. When the train shakes, I don’t worry that we’re going to fall out of the sky.

*Using my best Cartman voice: If you don’t know what Rochambeau is, then dude, you totally need to watch this clip from SouthPark.

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9 Responses to “Top 10 Reasons: Rail Travel Rocks”

  1. Darlene Steelman January 26, 2012 at 9:47 pm #

    I have never flown, but I do enjoy a good train ride… (unless someone is sitting next to me that thinks I am the all listening ear).

    Fun post.

  2. dorkahontas January 26, 2012 at 10:12 pm #

    We went by Amtrak from Seattle to Vancouver in October. In addition to all the pluses you outlined (we were just as enthralled with the lack of hassle, bathroom, dining and silent cars, elbow room and free wireless), we got to see Puget Sound and the Pacific out the window nearly the whole way (including paddleboarders, otter, sea lions and sailboats). When we couldn’t see the ocean, we were going through some of the cutest small towns (where people stood and WAVED at the train!) and prettiest farmland I’ve ever seen. We decided we will travel by train whenever possible. It was lovely. ALSO: The baggage handler at the Seattle station was one of the nicest human beings I’ve ever seen. I wanted to hug him. His name was Linus. Which is another reason I wanted to hug him.

    • pithypants January 28, 2012 at 6:24 am #

      That sounds like a gorgeous stretch! I totally forgot that item on my list: MUCH better views out a train window!

  3. Lorna's Voice January 27, 2012 at 8:47 am #

    I’ve seen lots of movies with dining scenes on trains where everything is smooth and perfect. When I tried to dine on a train once, everything rattled and we had to hold onto our plates and glasses so we wouldn’t be covered in food and drink. I’ve never watched a dining car scene with the same eyes!

    All other points are quite valid. I don’t look forward to air travel any more.

    • pithypants January 28, 2012 at 6:22 am #

      I think it depends on the train. The Acela (high speed/business) is pretty smooth, though there are sections of rail where it does get a bit, um, shaky.

  4. thesinglecell January 27, 2012 at 6:03 pm #

    We are the same person. I swear. I mean I don’t mind flying, but the advantages you list to taking the train are the exact ones I would list (including the bit about the farts). Except I don’t want to take a train from one coast to the other. That would take too long. It might be pretty, though. Also? More songs written about train travel than air travel. I’m pretty sure.

    • pithypants January 28, 2012 at 6:21 am #

      I agree. I like a 3 hour train ride. Anything more than that, and I think I’d be calculating how fast I could’ve gotten there on a plane. And fair point about the songs – I hadn’t considered that!

  5. Kelly Thompson January 27, 2012 at 6:43 pm #

    Some of my most memorable trips ever were by train. The characters you meet. The amazing scenery. Pulling into stops in the middle of the night and seeing a handful of passengers on the platform waiting to board in little hamlets you’d never know existed if you weren’t on the train. What’s not to like? Another great post, pithy…

    • pithypants January 28, 2012 at 6:18 am #

      Thanks! I agree. There’s a sense of freedom when you ride the rails – that if you see a town you like, you can just hop off!

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