Train travel is underrated. As an American who grew up in a small town in the the midwest, traveling by car was second-hand nature. For many, our cars are an extension of our own body. If you need to get somewhere, you grab the car keys, fill up the tank, and hit the gas pedal. America is huge and often requires a car, no doubt about that... especially if you don't have the luxury of living in a big city with public transportation. Unlike Europe and other parts of the world, everything is very spread out and our cities and regions were designed with the automobile in mind - therefore sprawling for miles and miles.
Traveling by train in America isn't nearly as common or convenient as Europe, mostly related to the points I just mentioned, but train travel throughout the states does exist, and it's quite enjoyable. In fact, I'm on the train as I write this, scurrying across the southwest side of Michigan on my way back to Chicago. The National Railroad Passenger Corporation, doing business as Amtrak, operates more than 300 trains a day throughout the Unity States. Chicago is a major train hub, making train travel an excellent option for getting to the city from a variety of different locations.
If you're not sold yet, here are 6 reasons traveling by train is awesome!
There's nothing worse than boarding an airplane for a several hour flight only to have your knees pressed against the seat in front of you. There's plenty of space on the train to spread your legs, and the seats are considerably larger than what you're used to in an airplane or any car. Additionally, if you want to get up and stretch your legs, you've got the whole length of the train to walk!
No Security Lines or Checking Bags
With train travel, there are no long security lines or the hassle of checking baggage. Simply purchase your train ticket, grab your luggage and get to the train station. Shortly before your train is scheduled to depart, you'll board the train and place your luggage in the designated area on your car. There's also room above each seat to store smaller bags and items.
You Can Bring Your Bike
Chicago is a great biking city, if you're coming to Chicago by train, bring your two-wheeled friend with you. There's limited space for bikes though. Check your booking details to confirm there's room, and reserve a spot for your bike sooner rather than later!
Kick Back in the Cafe Car
On shorter rides, there's a dedicated Cafe Car that sells a variety of take-out food and drink options (including booze!) This car is typically the same car that bicycles are stored in, and also includes 4 or 5 large restaurant booths to enjoy a snack and drink with other passengers. It also provides a good alternative to sitting in your ticketed seat. On longer rides, more formal dining options are available.
Connect and Plugin
In select trains, Amtrak offers free Wifi. This is a major perk to traveling my train for me. Additionally, the trains have plenty of power outlets throughout - two at each seat, and two at each booth in the cafe car. This allows you to stay connected and keep your devices charged throughout the trip's duration.
If you don't own a car, Amtrak is a budget-friendly alternative to renting one. With family in Michigan, I take the train home multiple times a year. It's cheaper than renting a car. On average, I pay around $65.00 round trip for a train ride to Mid-Michigan (about a 5 hours ride).
To book a train to Chicago, visit www.amtrak.com!