There's one type of travel in particular that has surged in popularity with Americans this year.
Train travel is currently trending among travelers in the United States, with a new ridership record set by Amtrak this year.
Many American travelers who have visited Europe have probably noted how easy, extensive, and scenic rail travel can be. And while the rail system in the United States is still not on par with Europe or other destinations like Japan that are great to travel by train, it's getting better.
Here are all the reasons a record number of Americans are choosing train travel right now:
Improved Trains And Infrastructure
Amtrak has invested significantly in improving its trains and infrastructure recently, and these improvements are paying off.
The company has invested over $3 billion into improving and modernizing trains, train stations, tunnels and bridges, and other facilities.
This means that traveling by train is a nicer experience and that, crucially, trains are running faster and reaching a higher on-time arrival rate.
Amtrak is launching a brand-new Acela fleet in 2024, which are its fastest trains (reaching speeds of up to 160 MPH) covering the busy Northeast Corridor, which stretches from Boston to Washington, D.C.
Scenic Routes Across The U.S.
Travelers who want to enjoy the scenic route are choosing to travel by train rather than flying or even driving. Trains in the U.S. often pass by more scenery than driving down a flat interstate, and obviously, you see a lot more than you do while flying!
If the journey is just as important as the destination to you, you'll probably enjoy traveling by train.
There are tons of extremely scenic train rides in the United States. Among the most beautiful U.S. train routes are the Coast Starlight, which stretches all the way down the Pacific Coast from Seattle to Los Angeles, and the California Zephyr, which crosses the country from Chicago to California.
Another one of my favorite routes is the Empire Service, which takes you from New York City to Niagara Falls in about nine hours, passing lots of beautiful scenery in Upstate New York.
More Affordable Fares
One reason train travel in the U.S. hasn't always been that popular is because of the cost. Traveling by train is typically much slower than flying, but it's also historically been more expensive.
This disparity pushes more travelers to book flights instead of trains since it will save them both time and money.
However, more affordable Amtrak fares have helped make train travel a more cost-conscious choice for travelers on a budget.
Earlier this year, Amtrak launched ultra-low “Night Owl” fares with prices as low as $5 on popular Northeast Corridor routes.
Last year, Amtrak also introduced a $399 USA Rail Pass which allows travelers to take 10 different train trips for just $39 per journey. This pass is currently priced at $499, but it's still a pretty good deal!
A Slower, More Relaxed Way To Travel
Finally, many travelers are choosing train travel because it's more relaxing and hassle-free than flying.
Crowded airports, long lines for security, lost luggage, flight delays, and cramped airplane seating are just a few of the stressful elements that make air travel unpleasant.
On the other hand, traveling by train is a much more pleasant experience and calls back to a bygone era of travel in the United States.
You don't have to get to the train station hours in advance like you do at the airport, and you don't have to worry about long lines either.
Even basic seats in economy class on an Amtrak train are much more spacious than your average airplane seat, and you can feel free to get up and move around as much as you want — fancy a snack or a drink in the dining car? Trains also offer premium seats and even private sleeping cars on long routes.
This makes traveling by train a much nicer experience than flying.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com
Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.