Oh, loyal Fellow Traveler, how glad I am to see you back at my blog, week after week! I bet you love learning almost as much as I do. Almost.
So if you recall, lately my blog posts have been about how travel benefits your health. And boy, does it ever! Not only does your physical health improve, but so does your mental health. If you haven’t read those two posts, I highly recommend you do. There’re some pretty interesting statistics!
We’ll come back to more benefits of travel in the future, but I feel (as important as those discussions are) I’m getting a little off track from my belief that travel—sustainable travel—can really help change the world! And after a fantastic discussion I had at a meeting last week, one aspect of sustainable travel is learning how to think about travel differently. Does travel always mean the fastest trip from Point A to Point B? Is that really the best for the environment, and does that really bring you the most satisfaction from your trip?
Without going into a lot of detail in this post: no, flying (the fastest way to get from place to place) is not the best for the environment. But that’s not terribly shocking. So let’s look another question I ask: does traveling the fastest from one place to another bring you the most satisfaction?
Does flying make you happy? You could be scared of flying. (I’ve certainly been there!) You could hate having to show up at the airport 2-3 (or more!) hours ahead of your flight departing. (I very much hate that.) You could hate the crazy restrictions & fees you have with luggage. (Ugh, I’ve been there, FT.) I won’t deny some places seem impossible to get to without flying, but we’ll save those for another time.
So let’s just talk about in the U.S. (Canada, too, why not?) Right now, when you visit a city on vacation you most likely drive or fly. Driving’s no fun because either you have to pay attention the whole time if you’re the driver (and FT, you BETTER not be on your cell phone…) or you can only stretch your legs & pee when you stop. We talked a lot about the downsides of flying, but let’s list some more: cramped seats, fasten seatbelt sign (especially when you really have to pee), views obscured by clouds, being stuck during taxiing, the list goes on & on & on. Planes are efficient, but they don’t really elicit that special vacation feeling. I never feel like my trip starts until I’m done with all my plane travel.
You know what feels like a true adventure once you step onto it? (Come on, the title gives a hint!) Yes—trains! If you haven’t been on a train here’s what you’re missing:
· Super comfy seats. You’re picturing the same amount of legroom as on a bus. You’d be wrong. They are so much bigger. Compared to plane seats they’re practically couches!
· Fewer baggage restrictions. You don’t have to check baggage on trains—even if you have a large suitcase! They have a place for you to put them. But if you like the convenience of checking baggage, you still can!
· Hate sitting still for long? Not a problem on a train. You can walk practically wherever, whenever. Walk to the observation car to stretch your legs. Walk to the snack bar for a quick bite!
· The VIEWS. There’s a reason train travel hasn’t died out in the U.S. yet, and it’s because trains offer gorgeous views (and often of places you wouldn’t see otherwise). Heck if my trip were only a train ride across the country, I’d consider it a success!
· Bedrooms & showers. Bedrooms are extra, yes, but showers are not! But bedrooms are still cheaper than flying first class somewhere aaaand you get more privacy & legroom.
· Trains give off HALF the carbon emissions of planes. HAAAAALF! That’s a big deal, guys.
So yes, if you take a train instead of a plane, you’re losing efficiency, but you’re gaining so, so much more!
Now get out there & go!