Ten Tips for First-Time Train Travellers
Train Travellers is a relaxed way to see Canada, whether you are looking for a quieter way to visit the country or you have been longing for the chance to tour in a sleeper vehicle.
These are some of the things you can expect during your train ride in Canada.
Train travel is full of surprises
Slow travel is becoming more popular as people realize that the “getting there” part of a trip can be the most enjoyable. This is especially true when traveling by train.
VIA Rail Canada says that “on our long distance routes it is important to take the time to admire the scenery in a relaxed way. This is what makes traveling by train so special.”
Even a Canadian Insider like Natalie Nicholls (sales manager at Fresh Tracks Canada) can be stunned by the beauty of the landscape.
Nicholls says, “Traveling by train feels almost like getting a behind-the scenes look at Canada.” “I am from the prairies, and I didn’t find them beautiful. But that was because I was driving on the highway. You can relax on a train and see sights that are not accessible by cars. It makes you feel thankful.
Surprise! Another surprise? The high quality of the food served on train trips across Canada.
Nicholls states that Nicholls was impressed by the culinary team and that everything was freshly prepared. This is quite remarkable considering how small their kitchen was. I enjoyed lamb chops, Manitoba pickerel, and other menu delicacies that were representative of the region we were visiting.
Know the route of your train
Many train trips can be taken as one-way travel. Although return trips are possible, many rail passengers prefer to travel one-way to experience the thrill of the train journey.
Fresh Tracks Canada offers the ability to customize your trip to suit your preferences and needs. You can add days at places you want to visit or remove days at stops you don’t like.
It is important to take the time to learn about your options. For example, when traversing the Canadian Rockies by rail, visitors will travel to and through the area but not around. You should also adhere to your schedule as trains do not run every day. There are many options for hotel stays if you plan to include them in your journey.
Decide whether you will sleep on the train or in a hotel room
To maximize the stunning views of the Canadian Rockies, Rocky Mountaineer travelers only travel on the train during daylight hours. Two service levels are available for your hotels.
You can enjoy a private sleeping area if you take an overnight train such as VIA Rail’s The Canadian.
Nicholls advises that you start with shorter trips, and then see if you enjoy spending a night or two on the train, before you sign up for the full-fledged trip.
Take a light bag to save time on the train
Beware of heavy packers: Most sleeper trains only allow one bag. You can check the rest.
Lucy Fenn (operations specialist at Fresh Tracks Canada) says, “Pack strategically but don’t let it scare you.” You will need a small duffel bag and laid-back clothes. Comfort is all you need. You don’t even have to be dressed up.
Layers and a sweater are good for cold weather. If you have a car with shared bathrooms, make sure to bring pyjamas that you don’t mind being seen in as you walk down the hall at night.
Enjoy entertainment on your train journey
Slow travel allows you to take in many opportunities for relaxation. It is important to entertain yourself, since most trips won’t have internet. You can use these passages to re-connect with tactile forms such as books or movies, even if you aren’t concentrating on the scenery.
Nicholls says, “It’s amazing just how quickly you can read books when there is so much downtime.” Do not overpack entertainment. Download movies, and ensure you have the things you love to choose from.
Explore the culture and history of your train route
You can enrich your travel experience by linking your reading or viewing material to the geographical history of the area.
Fenn says, “There are many great books about trains and frontiersmen traveling across the country.” “The history of the railway is quite dark, from its creation to the gold rush, and some people enjoy learning about that sense.
The Rocky Mountaineer provides commentary onboard to enhance your journey. It gives insight into the history and culture of the routes.
Consider an upgrade for your train trip
- Single travelers will often choose a cabin that is only for them, but it can be difficult to find a place, especially at night.
- Nicholls says, “As a single traveler it was worth it when it was time to upgrade to a cabin with two for comfort.”
You can also personalize your trip by upgrading to VIA Rail’s Prestige Sleeper Class (available via The Canadian), or making arrangements with the crew to celebrate special occasions, such as birthdays and anniversaries. For a memorable journey, consider custom experiences.
Socializing on the train is a good idea
The opportunity to travel by rail is a wonderful way to make new friends.
Contrary to flight culture where people stay in their seats, rail travel is often multi-day. Travelers mix and mingle in common areas, enjoy meals in the dining cars, before retiring to their cabins. Although the social aspects of rail travel have changed, it is still an excellent way to meet people.
With personalized service and tipping, it’s always fashionable. However, travelers often don’t know what is appropriate for multi-day trips. A few guidelines can help.
Fenn advises that you leave at least a few dollars for each meal when you travel on VIA Rail. It’s a good idea to leave $15 for turn-down service when you have to change your cabin from sitting to sleeping.
Many VIA Rail trips have staff changeovers at mid-point. If you have a positive experience with crew members, be sure to thank them before the trip ends.
Gratuities for your Rocky Mountaineer hosts are not part of your package. These hosts will serve you meals and beverages, and provide information and storytelling along your rail journey. At the end of your journey, you can pay gratuties by credit or cash.
Stay up-to-date with the latest information about train travel
Travel has changed from pandemics to restrictions abroad. It’s not surprising. It’s essential to keep up-to-date with international advisories, as many trips are booked months in advance.
Fenn says, “The best way to be aware is to remain alert.” It’s a smart idea to bring extra sanitizer, masks, and creature comforts such as essential oils to refresh your mask or warm socks and shirts to wear for dinner.
Consider travelers insurance and currency conversions if you are traveling outside of your home country. You will receive a package containing all the information you need from your travel advisor.