How to Plan Train Vacations

If you not familiar with planning train vacations, we have some tips for you.

Whether you are traveling solo or with a small group of adults, you may enjoy picking up and running off on a train with little to no planning. But you are traveling with your family or you want to ensure your trip is memorable and perfect in every way, then you have to do a bit of planning before you head out on the rail.

Couple Waiting for a Train Vacation

The following six steps will take you through the motions of planning the perfect train adventure.

1. Make the Passenger List

Think carefully about who you take on your train vacations. Do you want to travel with the baby and book a shorter trip, or can you find a babysitter for a longer trip? Do you want to invite extended family, or will they create more drama than excitement? Do you want to go as a family, or just whisk your spouse away for an intimate journey? Should your teenager bring a friend to ensure they stay entertained? The people you travel with will make or break the trip, so think carefully on this point.

Once you know who will go on the trip, set a range of travel dates on which everyone can get away from work and other obligations. This is important if you will be traveling with more than one adult or multiple families.

2. Explore Destination Options

There are train routes going all through the United States, Canada, and Europe. There are even trains that connect the United States and Canada. You can book tickets for train vacations directly through Amtrak or VIA Rail, or you can go through a train travel company selling packaged deals with excursions off the train along the route. Explore all of your options and allow everyone going on the trip to highlight the trips they would most like to enjoy.

3. Balance Dates of Travel and Expenses

You can get special deals from VIA Rail and Amtrak on certain holidays as well as at certain times of year. For instance, VIA Rail is offering a 50% discount on all routes for the 2013 Valentine’s Day season, and Amtrak offers discounted tickets all the time for children. Some packaged routes will have cheaper prices during lower traffic periods of the year. Your travel budget will go further if you spend some time searching for discounts and booking at just the right time.

4. Full Packages and Add-Ons

Do you want to book a complete travel package that includes hotel reservations and sightseeing opportunities off the train? Do you want to book the standard train travel package and add on your own hotel reservations and destination stopping points? You can take multiple train routes and book some off-train enjoyment between trips, or you can book complete packages that turn a standard train ride into a full vacation. Think about your destination, all stopping points from start to finish, and what you like to do during your train vacations.

5. Decide on Accommodations

Sleeper Car for Train Vacations

Do you want to book a sleeper car, or standard passenger tickets? What amenities do you expect to find once on board the train? How many seats or sleeper reservations will you need? Do you need to book hotel reservations for a layover or off-board excursions? Once you know where you will go and what you want to do, you can verify dates for all involved reservations to ensure it all
lines up.

6. Book the Deal

Once you find a train travel deal that is within your budget and you have applied all applicable deals or discounts, it is time to verify that everyone going on the trip can make the travel dates and book the vacation.

If you want sleeper reservations or are traveling during peak travel season, you should book your reservations
in advance.

You need to book reservations for hotels and other off-train adventures as well. It is best to book this all at once to ensure you can get reservations for the dates you need. For instance, if you have an overnight layover on your train trip you need hotel reservations for that night and cannot be flexible on that hotel reservation.

Once the deal is booked, you just have to plan, pack, and dream of the upcoming vacation. With all of this advance planning, your train trip should be all that you hope plus more.

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