When planning a vacation, it is easy to focus on the destination rather than the method of transport. Every trip isn’t always about where you are going. Sometimes it is about getting away from your day to day life and seeing more of the world.
The Speed Of Modern Life
In the mid-19th century, Charles Baudelaire was a part of a movement revolving around a term called “Flâneur.” He defined it as “a person who walks the city in order to experience it.” At the time, the industrial revolution was in full bloom. Cities were expanding and country life was less and less appealing. Everything was very fast and very modern.
In the twenty-first century, their idea of busy life is our idea of slowing down. Now, people get instant messages, fast forward through commercials and connect to people in real time. A lot of the outside world gets lost because we need to do things faster. When was the last time you heard someone say they were going to go out for a Sunday drive?
When I had a trip planned for spring break, I decided to take Baudelaire’s advice and take time to travel in order to experience it. I booked a sleeper car on Amtrak to take me from Seattle to Chicago.
My train was scheduled to leave Seattle at 5pm (Pacific Time) on Friday and arrive in Chicago at 4pm (Central Time) on Sunday. This way I could still have the week and the following weekend with my family and have this time to myself.
The View From The Rails
Unlike a driving trip, the train provides a different view than the road. We traveled through terrain that didn’t have a path for cars. Since you are a passenger, you can leave all the worries about driving behind and just look out the window. Unlike a plane, you can get up and look out the window on either side without disturbing anyone.
My trip was in March so it was snowing for a good part of the trip. At night, it surprised me how light it was outside considering the lack of street lights and major cities. I could see the outline of out the mountains in the distance.
The snow, mountains, the plains, the random rusted out vehicles, small towns, they passed by my window at the perfect speed. We moved fast enough to have a constant change of scenery but slow enough that you could actually see everything. I felt like I was traveling and not sitting in a tube for a random amount of time and then am in a new place.
Keeping Yourself Entertained
Since there was no internet, I had downloaded a few things in advance; a couple of Nerdist podcasts and Steve Martin’s autobiography, Born Standing Up: A Comics Life, on audiobook. Because of their conversational styles, I felt like they were traveling with me on the train. I could listen and still enjoy the scenery. At night, when the view was less important and very dark, I watched movies on my laptop.
After a while, I wanted a little human interaction and wandered over to the lounge car. I was able to find people looking for an extra person to play cards. Since I was alone, I sat with different people for dinner every night. I met some interesting people and had very random conversations about all sorts of things.
Even though I was traveling alone, I never felt lonely or self-conscious about it.
Unplugged From The World To Be In It
There was no phone signal nor internet on the train. I had reception when we stopped at each station, but for most of the trip, I was offline. No Twitter feeds, no Facebook posts, and no endless scrolling through Instagram or Pinterest. I only looked at my phone to see what time it was.
It allowed me to be a person who travels in order to experience it which was the point of the trip. If you feel like you don’t travel enough or need an excuse to unplug for a bit, I recommend taking a train the next time you travel. Even if it is a day trip, you won’t regret it. Be in the moment, see the sights, and ride the rails.
What experiences have you had when traveling by train? Let us know in the comments section.