How To Be On Track with an Affordable Railroad Vacation Package

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Railroads can offer a surprisingly good vacation – but sometimes it’s hard to get a railroad vacation package without breaking the bank. It’s easy to see why people of all ages enjoy railroad vacations. They give you a new perspective on a place, easily stopping off at a variety of places. There’s none of the hassle of airports, and even people who are nervous or medically impaired to fly can easily take a railroad. You can socialise in the train’s dining car, or enjoy some privacy in your own cabin as you watch the world roll by gently outside your window. Since most trains run year round there are carriages to fill even in low season, which can lead to some great prices. Railroad holidays are normally best bought as packages, since accommodation is typically part of the deal anyway. But how can you spot a great railroad vacation package? As a veteran of railroads from The Canadian to the Trans-Siberian, here are my top tips.

Check the Itinerary Closely

A railroad vacation isn’t like staying at a hotel – the places you pass through will fast disappear on the track behind you. That means that just looking at the headline stops on a package doesn’t tell you what you need to know. You also need to look into what time you will be there, as being somewhere in the middle of the night won’t let you see any of it. Similarly, you’ll want to explore how long you stop for in different stations. Some packages have you making brief station stops where at best you can stretch your legs and have a cigarette on the platform. Other itineraries will give you hours to explore between pulling into a station and pulling out again. Meanwhile, some itineraries sound more interesting than they are, with a couple of days of beautiful sights like the Rockies followed by days of repetitive, monotonous flat land. So, beyond the name of the railroad tour, look at the detailed itinerary and timings and do your research on the routing.

Meals – Inclusive or Not?

You need to eat and you might think you can get by on nibbles, but after days on a train you’ll want something much more substantial. More than that, food can be part of the joy of discovering a culture. Some railroad vacations include elaborate onboard kitchens whose delicious food will be one of the highlights of the trip. When looking into railroad vacations, you’ll want to check out what food and drink is included and what is not. Often there are different levels of package partly based on what meals you take. Where a train has long station stops, it will be easier for you to get off and eat at local restaurants if you want to. In some packages, this also may be included. Where the stops are shorter, if you don’t want to include meals in the package, do your homework first to find out what you can buy on the train. For example, some railroads only let you eat in the dining car if you have a berth not a seated ticket, regardless of whether you are willing to pay for the meals. You should also check out what facilities the railroad has if you want some self catering. Russian and Chinese railroads, for example, usually have boiling water on tap in every carriage. That can be helpful if you want to make instant meals, or even just a cup of coffee without having to miss the view leaving your carriage to get to the buffet car.

See What Others Thought

Just like sea cruises, railroad vacations attract a loyal band of enthusiasts – and they can be a great source of information for you. As you look at different railroad vacation packages, it is worth you digging into the experiences, opinions and tips of people who have taken the trips before. You can easily find this online. As well as specialist travel agents, there are some excellent sites which set out all the information you can imagine, from photos of what the different train interiors are like to reports from travellers on what the different classes of travel felt like for travellers with special needs. The site I always use for this is Seat 61, an incredible compendium of useful information run by a former British Rail employee.  

Remember – You’ve Got to Get Home!

It can be easy to focus on the trip itself, but a railroad trip which carries you thousands of miles from home means you have to travel thousands of miles to get back home! You can do that by an alternative mode of transport, such as flying, but bear in mind that one way fares can often be disproportionately expensive. So, when looking at possible railroad vacation packages, be sure to consider the total cost of the trip, not just the railroad portion. That is one reason a package can be the best way to organise a railroad vacation, as packages often include transport home from the final station stop. Railroad trips make perfect holidays for people of all ages. They are educational, relaxing, and fun. A package is an affordable way to organise such a trip and you can spot great value railroad vacation packages if you follow our simple tips above. Which railroad attracts you most?