Seniors Return To the Rails

By: Jody Smith

We don't hear much about train travel anymore. And that's a shame. Air travel is not the sweet ride it used to be with mounting costs and security troubles. Buses can feel cramped and crowded on longer trips.

But the train, which was at one time the king of adventurers, may be once more receiving more than a second glance from the weary travelers among us. You won't get where you're going as quickly by train as you would by airplane, but you won't feel as rushed and pressured either.

For seniors, train travel is less likely to be a brand new experience and may instead be a return to journeys of their youth. Even if you used to be a master of train travel, it wouldn't hurt to take a refresher course on matters of the rails.

Discounts may apply depending on just how senior you are. This is information worth knowing. Amtrak offers seniors who are age 62 and older a discount of 15 percent on the lowest rail fares on most of their trains. Some restrictions apply.

You can learn what you need to know online or with the use of guidebooks. How do you make seat reservations? How do you validate a ticket? How much do they cost? What do you do if you're hungry on a train?

Are you traveling with medication that needs refrigeration? Be in touch ahead of time with the rail carrier. Find out, for instance, whether you might have access to electrical outlets for your own cooler.

Do you need to bring a wheelchair or other type of equipment? Make arrangements ahead of time so that all transitions are smoother and less stressful.

Is there a car where you can have your meals or snacks? Will you need to bring your own food? As a rule, you can eat in the dining car, covered by the cost of your ticket. If there is no dining car, you should be able to eat in the lounge.

How much luggage should you allow yourself? You'll be stowing your own baggage, so pack efficiently and don't bring more than you can toss around. Your luggage will usually be above your head or under your seat so you will be able to keep an eye on it for the most part. But investing in a lock for your baggage can increase your security and peace of mind.

Keep any valuables including your ticket and all of your identification on your person at all times. Do not leave these things with your luggage.

Traveling by train means settling comfortably into your seat watching the scenery go by, or snoozing in a berth, while someone else does the driving. You can book a single seat that turns into a bed, or if you'd like something a little more luxurious, you can reserve a bedroom that has two berths, or four.

Settle in, and be lulled to sleep by the rhythm of the rails.

Jody Smith is a freelance writer for EmpowHER.com.

Sources:

Train Travel for Senior Citizens: Treat Yourself!

http://www.seniorcitizenjournal.com/travel/train-travel-for-senior-citizens-treat-yourself/

Train Travel Tips

http://seniortravel.about.com/od/transportationoptions/qt/TrainTravelTips.htm

Passenger Discount for Seniors

http://www.amtrak.com/servlet/ContentServer?c=Page&pagename=am%2FLayout&cid=1241305460008

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