Riding the Rails

I have long been a big fan of train travel. Back when I lived in Charlottesville, I spent a lot of time on the Vermonter, the train that runs up into New England and stops 10 minutes from my daughter’s old home in New Hampshire. I also took the train into New York on several occasions. The fare is often reasonable (even in business class), there’s no long security line, and you can take your bags on the train with you. Obviously you’ll be on the rails longer than you would be in the air, but if you fly, once you factor in getting to the airport several hours before take-off, layovers in crowded airports, and the long process of disembarking and getting your bags, it usually ends up taking about the same amount of time door-to-door. And trains can continue to run when flights are cancelled because of weather. Several years ago right after a huge snowstorm I made my way on the Vermonter to NH for Christmas when all the flights in C’Ville were cancelled for days.

The best part of train travel for me, though, is the incredible amount of work I’m able to get done. I find I’m super prolific when I’m on a train. I can’t sit for 8 hours and type on a plane. On a train I can turn on my laptop the minute I get in my seat, and not turn it off until I’m at my destination. I’m not interrupted by beverage carts and seatmates pushing past me to go to the bathroom (I’ve almost always had a row to myself), I don’t have to waste time packing and unpacking my laptop to change planes, and there is actually enough space to use a laptop. If I need a change of scenery, I can go sit in the café car for a while and work there. It’s usually quiet in business class, but if it happens to be noisy, I can always go work in the quiet car.

I have a trip booked to Charlottesville on Amtrak soon, and I’m stoked. I haven’t hit the rails from Charleston before, so I’m looking forward to seeing the view from the windows through SC and NC to VA. And I’m looking forward to the bonus writing time. One of these days I’ve promised myself a cross-country train trip, but for now I’ll have to be satisfied with an up-the-eastern-seaboard jaunt.


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