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How to Plan a Trip by Train this Fall

fall train travel
Allianz - fall train travel

Ask most travelers how to plan a trip by train, and you’ll probably hear a fairly matter-of-fact response.

“Enter your location, your destination, and how long you want to travel.”

And yes, while answering these and a few other questions — including Business Class vs. Coach seating — are enough to get you a ticket, they won’t fully prepare you for how to plan a trip by train.

First off, you need to know that you’re vying for those tickets against a rapidly increasing group of train travelers. From Spring 2019 to Spring 2020, Amtrak ridership spiked 86 percent. (In other words, book early!)

And sure, some of this can be tracked to the pandemic. But many others see a rising tide of train travelers looking for a more luxe experience. (Amtrak is even cashing in on the trend by offering full-meal service and other first-class touches to longer routes).1

That brings us to another key element of your train travel planning: the purpose. Are you just trying to get from Point A to Point B in a more convenient, comfortable, or economical fashion? Or is the journey your destination — riding the rails for hundreds of miles to gawk at the fall foliage or other spectacular views best framed up by a passenger train window?

Whether you’re looking at how to plan a train trip for form or function, we have some tips for getting you rolling toward your ideal train trip.

Travel Insurance & Train Travel

Just because trains take you across the country vs. around the world, it doesn’t make a travel insurance plan any less critical. After all, trains are bringing travelers to destinations where they have pre-paid, nonrefundable purchases, whether it be a guided tour through a quaint New Hampshire town or a snowboarding lesson. And if you need to cancel your trip for a covered reason, a travel insurance plan from Allianz Global Assistance with a Trip Cancellation benefit can come in huge.

But that’s not the only reason you should pack travel insurance on your next train trek. Benefits ranging from Trip Interruption to Baggage Loss/Damage and Emergency Medical Transportation can all make a bad situation a distance memory. And don’t forget about the Concierge benefit that comes with all plans. Whether you’re trying to find a pair of high-powered binoculars to catch distant views of the passing flora or want to find a 24-hour pancake house within a quick trip of the train station, our travel experts have you covered.2

Take a moment to find the best travel insurance plan for your train travel itinerary and budget.

Tips & Tricks for Riding the Rail

If you’ve never ridden a train before, they can be full of surprises. Here’s some advice for navigating your first or next trip.

  • Splurge on First Class: The mark up between Coach and First Class on a train is not nearly as high as what you’ll find on an airplane. If you’d like some extra elbow room and other perks, consider this relatively minimal investment.
  • Time Lost, Time Gained: When you’re looking for how to plan a trip by train, consider your timing. When looking at speeds — and ultimately, commute times — Amtrak trains max out at anywhere from about 80 mph to 150 mph depending on your location. This is obviously far shy of the nearly 600 mph speeds the average 747 plane can hit. However, traveling by train can save time in many other ways. That’s because you can often arrive for your departing train minutes before it takes off. There are no TSA checkpoints or lengthy boarding procedures to endure.3, 4
  • Don’t forget the Lounge car. If you didn’t upgrade to First Class or you have a noisy neighbor, relocate to the Lounge, where you’ll find additional, unassigned seating as well as snacks, drinks, and who knows what else.
  • Nap at your own risk. When a plane meets the gate, it’s a complicated, time-consuming dance of shuffling out of your seat, grabbing your bags as quickly as possible, and hustling out the cabin door. In other words, it’s tough to get left behind. Not so on a train. Stops can come fast and furious, and if you’re not standing at the ready upon approaching your destination, you might see it fading into the distance as you plot how you’ll get back there.

Where to Travel by Train this Fall

Now that you have a better idea of how to plan a trip by train, it’s time to consider your destinations.

  • The Vermonter: If you’re looking to sample a buffet of free-falling fall colors, then you need to punch your ticket for Amtrak’s Vermonter. This train ushers riders from Washington, D.C., through New England, and to the northern tip of Vermont. Of course, if you want to push your trip out a bit further into the year, the Vermonter is a great way to get to the ski slopes of Killington, Stowe, and other mountains. Don’t forget to grab some souvenir maple syrup on one of your stops in a picturesque small town!5
  • The Rocky Mountaineer: If you’re looking to explore the Rockies in style and “stay” a while — then this is your ticket. The Rocky Mountaineer takes passengers from Denver to Moab, Utah in luxury — we’re talking cocktails and fancy leather chairs. The train pauses its journey each day when the sun goes down so that you don’t miss a single snapshot of the stunning scenery.6
  • Essex Steam Train: Sometimes the journey is the destination. And that’s exactly the case with the Essex Steam Train, which cruises through the Connecticut River Valley. You can stick to the train, which is powered by a coal-fired locomotive, or tack on a riverboat trip to make it a true surf-and-turf adventure. You can even upgrade to a themed dinner trek, with fare ranging from beer and brats to wine and chocolates.7

With a little research and a travel insurance plan from Allianz Global Assistance, mastering how to plan a trip by train is a cakewalk. We’ll see you onboard!

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Sep 21, 2021