IT’s always been a bit partial toward trains, so we had to share this news: Amtrak recently announced that it has teamed up with GrandLuxe Rail Journeys to offer luxury accommodation on popular Amtrak routes. Beginning this fall, seven exclusive GrandLuxe cars will be attached to the back of select Amtrak trains. GrandLuxe passengers will be pampered with five-course meals, private cabins, live music, and all the luxuries of a fine hotel. Routes will include Amtrak’s California Zephyr from Chicago to San Francisco and the Silver Meteor from Washington, D.C. to Miami. The partnership was made in response to increasing train ridership and to introduce a more appealing option to travelers who want a bit more out of their rail vacation.
But fine dining and fluffy pillows come with a hefty price tag: a one- to two-night trip will cost between $789 and $2,499 per person.
Our opinion? Trains are over 17% more energy-efficient than airplanes, according to the Transportation Data Energy Book. And while air travel is unarguably the fastest way to get around, it can also be the most frustrating. Customer satisfaction with the airline industry is lower than ever, due to tight cabin space, the seemingly neverending list of security-checkpoint rules, long lines, and mishandled (or missing) luggage.
Even the classic road trip has its drawbacks since gas prices soared earlier this year. But for travelers who want to avoid the hassle of airports, or who dread planning car trips around rush hour and rest stops, train travel allows passengers to sit back, relax, and enjoy the beautiful view of the countryside.
Another locomotive bonus? Even if GrandLuxe travel doesn’t fit your style (or budget), Amtrak offers deals that airlines usually don’t: seniors and students can save 15% with the proper I.D. (try the Student Advantage card or International Student Identity Card), and children under 15 ride for half price, as well as other sweet deals. So, for travelers who’ve got the time to ride (luxury or not), train travel is a convenient, eco-friendly way to see some top U.S. destinations. Now that’s staying on track.
- Nat Geo Expeditions