A love letter to train travel: why trains are better than planes

Dear trains,

You’ve taken me across the snowy slopes of Bavaria and past Japanese houses at the foot of Mt. Fuji. You’ve taken me to the lush mountains of Taiwan and coastal towns of Ireland.

Most recently, you took me across the border to Paris and back.

Now why would anyone in their right mind spend more than nine hours on a journey that could easily take two hours by plane?

Well, it definitely has nothing to do with the fact that I have a completely valid work visa and would have no problem if it were checked at the airport, and everything to do with how much I love traveling by train.

Despite the United States’s meager Amtrak offerings, it is severely lacking when it comes to train travel. Perhaps that’s why I still romanticize the act of staring out the window as the world flies by. 

So thank you, trains, for letting me pretend like I’m in a dramatic folk music video about youth and travel and carpe diem

Thank you for being more spacious and comfortable than planes, especially as budget airlines threaten to remove all leg room forever.

Thank you for not making me show up to the station two hours ahead of time to stand in endless lines.

Thank you for keeping my “Before Sunrise” fantasy alive.

Thank you for not making me take my shoes off or separate my liquids.

Thank you for giving me space to get up and walk around. And space to bring back as much cheese and wine in my suitcase as I damn well please. 

Thank you for not making me decide which airline is the lesser of evils, knowing I might have to deal with delays, baggage issues, or safety concerns regardless.

Thank you for letting me buy food from the cafeteria car whenever I want and for not forcing me to eat tasteless garbage.

Thank you for indulging my introvert fantasy of literally not talking to a single person the entire trip.

But most of all, thank you for showing me that there’s so much more to the journey than I could have ever imagined.


An American traveler

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