As seniors enjoy or approach retirement, they quite often find that travel is one of their passions. At long last, they have the time and financial freedom to visit places they've always wanted to see. For most travelers, driving and flying are the first modes of transportation that come to mind, but more and more are finding that train travel best suits their needs. Trains are statistically much safer than traveling by car, particularly for drivers with vision, fatigue, or other health problems. When compared to plane travel, they allow seniors to visit destinations some distance from major airports and to avoid the stress of airports. For seniors traveling in groups or simply those who enjoy meeting new people, trains allow for mingling. Trains provide certain amenities, particularly sleeping compartments and the ability to get up and move around easily. For many seniors, the greatest benefits of train travel are the more relaxed pace, the enjoyment of scenery along the way, and the romance of a form of transportation that has largely been forgotten in the modern day. Trains allow seniors to kick back and enjoy the journey rather than only the destination.
The Ins and Outs of Domestic Train Travel
In the United States, intercity or interstate train travel means Amtrak. With this in mind, the first point of contact should be www.amtrak.com or 1-800-872-7245. Amtrak's offers a wide selection of routes with approximately 500 destinations. The traveler may also combine these routes to design their own itinerary. Route stops include more than just major cities; for instance, Amtrak's Downeaster route begins in Boston and ends in Brunswick, Maine. Between Boston and Brunswick lie stops at 10 charming New England towns and cities. Amtrak also offers routes to some of America's most popular national parks, including Yellowstone, Grand Canyon, Yosemite, Glacier and Rocky Mountain. Their Trails & Rails program provides volunteers on select routes, including many routes visiting national parks, to explain the natural and cultural significance of the passing sites. Those wishing to venture north of the border will also find a number of exciting Canadian destinations. Once the itinerary is chosen, the traveler will notice that there are no added fees to the rate; the price you see is the price you get.
When booking, the traveler should consult guidelines regarding any medications or special diet materials they may need to bring along. They should note which type of meals they may want (kosher, vegetarian, low-sodium, etc.). Carry-on baggage is limited to two pieces. Amtrak offers hotel and rental car links on their website for easy connections upon arrival. Travelers wishing to explore stops along their route or their final destination will likely want to rent a car or access public transportation from the Amtrak station.
Travelers frequently ask if Amtrak offers hop-on, hop-off service for their routes. The short answer is "no", but there is feasible option: the Amtrak USA Rail Pass. The pass allows a traveler the right to buy a set number of discounted tickets in a set amount of time. It is not a ticket and doesn't reserve seats. The smart traveler should book seats in advance to ensure that they're not sold out. The USA Rail Pass is a great way for a traveler to design an itinerary with several stops along a route and also save a little money in the process.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Is train travel safe?
A: Train travel is statistically much safer than cars or buses and almost as safe as plane travel.
Q: Are wheelchair accommodations available on Amtrak?
A: In compliance with the ADA, comfortable and easily-accessible seats, restrooms, and sleeping compartments are provided for passengers in wheelchairs.
Q: Are alcoholic beverages allowed on Amtrak?
A: Passengers may not bring their own alcoholic beverages on the train, but they are available to purchase.
Q: Is it possible to make reservations for large groups?
A: Yes, it is. Passengers should complete a group travel request form on the Amtrak website or call the Amtrak 800 number. Group discounts may be available.