Many people only experience traveling by getting into their car and taking a road trip to a neighboring state. These trips can be fun, but traveling and vacationing in other ways have the potential to be more of a thrilling experience.
Traveling and vacationing by train has become something less common among Americans today, which may seem odd because traveling by train was popular and in demand in the early 1900s. Aside from the experience itself, traveling by train can save you money and diminish the need to find pay-as-you-go auto insurance for rental cars.
If you are looking for road-trip alternatives for your vacation, here are some of the most unforgettable overnight train trips around the world.
#1 – California Zephyr (Amtrak): Chicago to California
Many Americans underestimate just how thrilling traveling on a train can be. Amtrak, a leading commuter train in the United States, is a company that a lot of people are not familiar with, especially for people in the South like Georgia, Florida, or Alabama.
Taking the Amtrak train, the California Zephyr, from Chicago, Illinois to Emeryville, California is an example of a thrilling train trip. This journey lasts for 52 hours and during the day, you have amazing views of the Colorado Rockies and California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains.
If you are leaving from Chicago, the train departs from the station in the evening, and you will wake in the east of Denver in the morning. This trip has the advantage of going into and through deep canyons. It rides through the red rock grounds of Utah and ends near the Golden Gate Bridge in the Bay Area of California.
The cost of taking this overnight train ride is pretty inexpensive as well. The price starts at $547 for a single roomette which includes meals. For a double roomette, the cost is around $771. If you prefer to not have a separate room, you can get coach seats from $141. Meals are not included with coach seats but can be purchased directly from servers.
As you can see, you can find the secrets to save hundreds while traveling by doing a simple internet search for the cheapest train tickets.
#2 – The Crescent (Amtrak): New York City to New Orleans
I mentioned earlier how a number of Americans in the South are not aware of the benefits of trips on a train. Well, riding the Crescent train from New York City to New Orleans, or vice versa is a good way for Southern people to experience an overnight train trip. Both of these locations are closer to the South than other western Amtrak stations.
The train leaves from Manhattan’s Pennsylvania Station. Throughout the 30-hour train ride, there are more riders on the east side of the route than the number of riders closer to New Orleans. This is probably because there are more populated stops near New York city like Philadelphia and Baltimore.
As the train moves farther south, it passes by the Blue Ridge Mountains. The route also incorporates historic locations like the university town of Charlottesville, Virginia. Once deeper in the South, the route stops at other historic sites relevant to the Civil Rights movement such as first-hand looks at Greensboro, North Carolina; Atlanta, Georgia; Birmingham, Alabama.
Once you are in New Orleans, there is much for people of all types from foodies to cyclists to do. There is so much to do in NOLA, as the city is filled with music, art, food, magic, and just about everything else.
The price of this train trip could be less than $150. You can book a single roomette for $466 and a double room for $686, and coach seats start at $139. Again, meals are not included in coach seats but are included in the price for the room bookings.
#3 – The Canadian (VIA Rail): Toronto to Vancouver
VIA Rail is Canada’s national rail service that operates a four-day trip across Canada. The train rides by the lakes and forests of Ontario, giving the rider beautiful views of the water and the trees hovering over it. The train also rides through various small cities, like Winnipeg and Edmonton.
Before the trip ends in Vancouver, it winds through the Rocky Mountains past Jaspe.
Other fun and beautiful aspects of this train ride are the chances to see polar bears and beluga whales as it passes by the ocean from Montreal to Halifax and the Hudson Bay. That route links Winnipeg to Churchill as well.
The price starts at about $850 U.S dollars for a single bed, which is private at night and opens during the day. The meals are included within this option. Double rooms are twice the single fare, and a coach seat starts at roughly $340 U.S. dollars.
Since train trips are more expensive in Canada, one can practice some top traveling tips and pack less in order to be able to book smaller, like a coach seat, and save money.
#4 – The Venice Simplon-Orient-Express: London to Venice
The Venice Simplon-Orient-Express is most famous for its set of carriages. It is actually the most famous train in the world, and on this overnight, two-day trip, you travel from London to Venice. Of course, you get the joy of grand oceanic views, historic architecture, and all of the other beautiful scenery between London and Venice.
The views are one of the many reasons why you need to go to Europe, but the best part of this trip is the elegance of Venice Simplon-Orient-Express. The train has polished wood, antique fixtures, and precisely stitched upholstery. The design of the train embodies the snazzy essence of the Golden Age of train travel from between the 1900s and the late 1940s.
This train experience can be pricey, though, starting at $3,275.72 U.S. dollars for a single bunk, and $8,686.89 U.S. dollars for a grand suite. However, if you can make the cost work in your budget, this is definitely a trip worth taking.
#5 – The Blue Train South Africa: Pretoria to Cape Town
The Blue Train is referred to as South Africa’s “Five-Star Hotel On Wheels.” This specific train has been one that kings, presidents, and various celebrities choose when traveling through South Africa. For example, a couple of famous individuals who have traveled this train are Nelson Mandela and Kylie Minogue.
The train travels through some of the most diverse and lively scenery offered by the African sub-continent. The scenery extends from mountain top views to crystal blue oceanic sites.
The Blue Train trip also includes an off-train stop in Kimberley for a visit to the Big Hole and Diamond Mine Museum. The price for this train journey starts from $1,300 U.S. dollars one-way including meals, wine, and surprisingly, cigars.
Train Travel is an Unforgettable Experience
No matter where you travel and which route you pick, you will surely remember your train trip for the rest of your life. If you’re looking for a way to explore the world in a different way than the typical road trip or airplane ride, check out a trip on the rails with one of these trains!
– About the Author –
Imani Francies writes and researches for the auto insurance comparison site, AutoInsuranceEZ.com. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Film and Media and specializes in various forms of media marketing.