Train travel is easily the most underrated form of long-distance travel out there.
Air travel certainly has its ups and downs, and long car trips can easily go awry. But train travel? Under most circumstances, is stress-free.
Of course, trains can't get you everywhere -- they can't cross oceans, and many remote areas don't have access to them. But for traveling from city to city within a continent, they're pretty great.
Here are nine reasons you should consider taking a train to your next destination.
In the U.S., trains aren't cheap. But in general they're cheaper than flying, especially short distances. In addition, many railway services offer discounts that you'll never see airlines touting. On Amtrak, children under 2 years old ride free and kids ages 2 to 15 ride half price. Train prices are also generally pretty stable, so there's no need to track price trends as you would for airfare.
Air travel involves a lot of waiting in lines -- check-in lines, security lines, boarding lines. Those lines can drive any innocent traveler to the brink of his or her sanity. Train travel eliminates those lines. Most railway services do not involve check-in, and have self-service ticket kiosks or use e-tickets instead and trains rarely have TSA-style security. There may be a line to board, but it should go quickly. For the most part, you just arrive and walk on to your train.
There's something old-school and charming about riding trains. Between the food car, the conductors, and the world flying by outside your window, there's a nostalgic appeal to train travel.
With no take off, landing or seat-belt signs, you're not stuck in your seat for endless amounts of time. You can move about the train as frequently as you wish. Since someone else is doing the driving, you're free to eat, drink, nap and get up to stretch your legs whenever you like. You'll also never have to turn off your electronics or listen to a flight attendant give the safety spiel.
Train rides are smooth and turbulence-free, meaning they won't jostle the contents of your luggage or your stomach. Seats are usually roomy enough -- certainly roomier than the back seat of a car or an economy-class airplane seat.
6. No traffic!
Goodbye, road rage!
7. No hidden fees!
Generally, trains aren't picky about how much luggage you bring on, as long as you can handle it yourself (and some services, like Amtrak, have free red-cap service that will help you when needed).
Traveling by train can be incredibly scenic. You can see cities, mountains and rivers from the seat of a train. Train travel is just an all around better, more relaxing experience than its air and car counterparts. While those are mainly about getting from point A to point B, trains are about the ride.
9. Harry Potter.
Yep. If Harry and gang take them, we all should, even if we're not riding the Hogwarts Express.