Ride the Rails to Your Next Vacation

The other day I had one of those moments, you know the ones, when the mania of daily life falters and everything is calm and still. One minute I’m scrambling to check the boxes on my to-do list, and the next, I’m standing on my back porch watching a pair of robins peck absently at the lawn. Then the phone rang, snapping me back to reality, and my last thought before I lifted it to my ear was, Man, I need a vacation.

We’ve all been there. In a down economy it seems like everyone is working twice as hard, sleeping less and worrying more. But it’s important to remember that with all of our responsibilities, we have a responsibility to ourselves as well.

I’m not sure which famous thinker said, “I’m not a philosopher, but a man who philosophizes,” but his words couldn’t have been more true. You are not your job, your mortgage or your student loans; you’re a person. And at some point, every person needs a vacation.

In a time when airfare costs more than the actual vacation, what can we do to escape our daily grind without releasing the eclipse of moths from our wallets? After forty years as America’s primary rail service, Amtrak has teamed up with the National Parks Service to provide a solution.

Combining the classic American traditions of traveling by train and visiting our nation’s beautiful natural monuments, Amtrak can now take you to the threshold of over 230 national parks. From Mount Rainer in the northwest corner of Washington to Everglades National Park on the Florida coast, Amtrak can take you just about anywhere.

I have wanted to hike through Glacier National Park for as long as I can remember. While Googling travel information, I stumbled onto Using this site, I can book a seat to Glacier for $218 today and arrive tomorrow with a room booked in any of six luxury hotels, lodges or cabins all nestled within the breathtaking scenery of the park. The cheapest round-trip flight I could find was $800, nearly four-times more! The website also provides a list of available resources and activities: car rentals, guided tours and options for fishing, hiking, cross-country skiing, biking, boating, hiking or just some good old-fashioned camping.

The beauty of an Amtrak vacation is its versatility; every detail can be tailored to meet your specific needs. Whether you’re flush or strapped for cash, anything from train fare to lodgings to activities can be adjusted to fit your budget. The website even includes a Deals page, which lists every park that offers discounts on rooms, activities and passes for students and children.

For those of you who don’t share my enthusiasm for spending those precious vacation days fishing or romping through the forest, don’t worry! Amtrak also offers a series of vacation packages that tour the nation’s most vibrant cities, historical landmarks and music festivals. The package includes hotel accommodations, car rentals, sightseeing and more.

Anyone who rides a commuter train to work knows there is nothing luxurious or comfortable about it. However, for a $200 Amtrak ticket you can have the first-class travel experience usually associated with a 747 jetliner: large leather armchairs, free Wi-Fi, no middle seats, uninterrupted access to your electronic devices, plus all the food you want while enjoying the beautiful passing scenery.

I can’t afford to fly, and frankly, if the train is really “first-class comfortable” I’d just as soon skip the risk of flight delays, turbulence, lost luggage and the dreaded airport routine.



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