I took a 19-hour Amtrak train from New York to Chicago and realized there are benefits to train travel.
I didn't have to wait in security lines or squeeze into a small seat.
Train travel is also better for the environment.
A few weeks ago I traveled from New York to Chicago on a 19-hour Amtrak ride.
Although I ultimately didn't think the journey was worth the $550 price tag, I did notice there were many benefits to train travel, especially when compared to flying.
There were no long lines like those you see at airports.
Depending on where you're flying, you usually have to arrive at the airport two or three hours before your flight takes off to allow enough time to get through long security lines. When it comes to train travel, you don't have to go through security or wait in long lines. You can arrive minutes before the departure time and get on the train quickly.
This was my favorite part about traveling by train.
I didn't have to worry about baggage limits when taking an Amtrak train.
Most airlines are strict about carry-on baggage. You can carry on only a specific size bag and one personal item. All other luggage must be checked and weighed, and you more often than not need to pay a fee. You also have to adhere to FAA guidelines about liquids and other items.
When traveling by train I didn't have to worry about that. Amtrak allows you to carry on two bags that weigh less than 50 pounds and two personal bags that weigh less than 25 pounds. If you want to check your luggage — and if it's available on your route — your first two bags are free. Essentially, you can bring along six bags before having to shell out any extra cash.
I packed everything for a weeklong trip in a carry-on and a backpack, and I was completely worry-free.
You'll feel less trapped on a train when compared to a flight.
Whenever I'm on a plane I feel trapped. For the bulk of the trip, I'm forced to stay in my seat and can really only get up to use the bathroom. If I want to stretch my legs, there's nowhere to go. If there's an unruly passenger, there's no way to avoid them.
I found the opposite to be true for train travel. You can walk the length of the train if you need to stretch your legs, you can head to the dining car to hang out for a bit, and you can move to another car if someone is bothering you. On a train, you have options instead of just being tied to your assigned seat.
Plus, you get more legroom on a train.
Coach seats on Amtrak trains have 39 inches of legroom space, whereas planes with major airlines provide between 28 and 32 inches to squish your legs into. Beyond coach, Amtrak also offers private rooms with more space to spread out.
I booked a roomette for $550 for my journey. Amtrak roomettes measure 3 feet 6 inches by 6 feet 6 inches, and they fit two adults. Although it felt like a small room for one person, let alone two, it was still significantly better than the small seat I would get on a plane.
The dining car - and the flexibility to eat whenever you want - is one of the best parts of the Amtrak train.
On a plane, you have to wait for flight attendants to serve drinks and snacks. If you're in one of the unlucky rows, you could be one of the last people to get food. However, on Amtrak, there is a dining car and a snack car, which means you can get up whenever you want and help yourself to food.
Although I found the food to be less than desirable on the train, the dining car is still a great way to get out of your seat and get a change of scenery — something that is impossible to do on a plane.
There are amazing landscapes you would miss if you flew to your destination.
When traveling by train, you get to see beautiful landscapes. One hour you can be looking out onto endless farmland and then a few hours later you could see mountains in the distance.
When I took my 19-hour ride, I loved passing time by just staring out the window and watching the changing landscape. By comparison, all you see for most of a plane journey are clouds.
Traveling by train is a great way to slow down, especially if you're going to have a busy vacation.
When I go on vacation, I always try to find the quickest route, so I can get to my destination as soon as possible. After traveling for several hours, I usually arrive tired and jet-lagged, and then I have to force myself to keep going throughout the rest of my trip.
Though the 19 hours on the train was long, it helped me relax and ease into the vacation mindset. I arrived at my destination relaxed and calm. The train ride allowed me to approach the trip differently.
Some people may not feel ready to board a plane yet because of the coronavirus pandemic, but I thought traveling by train was a great alternative.
Although the air on planes is circulated and filtered, making it harder for viruses to spread, I still felt safer on the Amtrak train than on a plane.
Most Amtrak train stations are outside, so I was able to wait outdoors instead of waiting in line at an airport and increasing my chances of exposure to the virus.
While the CDC does not recommend long-distance train travel because of how long passengers may be within six feet of one another, I was able to book a roomette, so I was sectioned off from the majority of people on the trip, something I couldn't do on a plane.
Additionally, if someone was coughing near me on the train, I would have more freedom to get up and move away from that person, putting my mind at ease. On a plane, I would be trapped next to the person for the entire flight.
Amtrak is a great option for some people with certain health issues.
Sometimes people with a history of stroke, respiratory diseases, or who are in the later weeks of pregnancy are advised not to fly by their doctors. Train travel can be the perfect safe alternative for those people.
Traveling by train is better for the environment.
When it comes to carbon emissions and harmful greenhouse gases, planes almost always emit more than trains — usually by a lot. For example, a train between London and Madrid would produce 95 pounds of carbon dioxide, while a plane between the two cities would emit 260 pounds, according to the BBC.
Read the original article on Insider