Let's face it-air travel isn't what it used to be. Long gone are the days of Pan-Am when Grandpa was a valued customer embarking on an exciting and comfortable journey. Possibly he would start off his exclusive (expensive) flight swilling a bottomless cocktail, smoking a cigarette. Oh yes, how times have changed! Eternally lit no smoking signs, the abolition of the small personal ashtrays in the arm rests, and a smoke detector in the restroom for those trying to sneak a coveted cigarette. While these seemingly small changes were happening in the plane, advancements in the air travel industry were growing by leaps and bounds. Lower fares made air travel accessible to many and the expansion of service areas opened up the far corners of the US, and the globe, to be explored. Soon extra rows are squeezed in to accommodate supply and demand and suddenly, seemingly overnight, the once luxurious and exciting air travel has morphed into a cattle call. Hope Grandpa doesn't get assigned an unlucky seat that doesn't recline or next to "that guy" (insert awful personality trait here).
Long gone are the days when Grandpa's sense of adventure and freedom began upon take off. Being on a plane flight is suddenly hauntingly reminiscent of the first day of boot camp with lots of lining up, waiting, being told when you can use the restroom, and a general sense of unease until finally breaking free upon landing. No... let's amend that. Landing means more waiting, items toppling from the overhead bins, and being stuck behind the lady that just had to squeeze her oversized bag into the overhead next to the coveted souvenir bag. Grandpa's new handcrafted fedora now looks like a sombrero and he urgently awaits freedom and a full-sized bathroom stall as he exits the aircraft. Grandpa's sense of freedom and adventure returns upon disembarking from a harrowing ride filled with unruly toddlers and poorly behaved adults, the toddlers at least having a viable excuse for their behavior!
Travelling can be taxing, even for the most experienced traveler with the most laissez-faire personality. This is especially true as you age and especially true of air travel. If having to wait for the restroom until the captain has turned off the fasten seat belt sign doesn't work anymore for Grandpa, try a vacation via train!
Admittedly, America's passenger train experience pales in comparison to Japan's sleek bullet trains, Britain's luxury liners, and Western Europe's multitude of destinations. There are a variety of reasons for this: a complex issue rife with politics and finances. But that's a different story for a different day. If Grandpa resides near an Amtrak station, then rail travel is a great way to start an adventure! Travelling by train has so many advantages!
Most trains and journeys have a longer boarding window, meaning there isn't the sudden push to accommodate a few hundred people entering the same small space in a limited time. There are various restrooms to use through the different train cars and, since you're not restricted by a captain's seatbelt sign and cruising altitude, you can freely move about when nature calls.
Grandpa can stretch his legs, and even lie down for a nap when desired. You aren't packed in like sardines and, in perhaps one of the best advancements in travel, many trains have abolished the dreaded center seat!
Train travel is an investment in time, yet a great deal financially. No need to look around for a cheaper ticket or a different carrier; Amtrak is your only passenger train option and largely subsidized (and owned by) the government. There are additional discounts available including advance purchase, travel club, and senior discounts.
If Grandpa is hesitant to leave behind Fido, there is a good chance he can bring along his beloved pet. Although not available on all routes, many allow for a small (usually under 25 lbs.) well-behaved cat or dog to accompany their owner. Train travel tends to be much less stressful for a pet than travelling via plane as they don't have the discomfort of pressurization or being stuck in the dreaded cargo department. Train tickets for Grandpa's companion are usually less than what a grandkid spends on weekly coffee at Starbucks.
Great destinations and amazing sights to see en route that you may miss when travelling by air or car. Check out the fall foliage of the Northeast, the expansive enchanting emptiness of the desert Southwest, or the scenic raw beauty of Pacific Coast.
Food, meds, drinks: all aboard! No longer will you be stuck with the overpriced bottle of water after getting through security or committed to buying an overpriced and under desired meal from your airhost. There are typically a variety of food and drink available for purchase, and in many cases a well-stocked dining car with a variety of meal options. In addition, Grandpa will also have the opportunity to bring his own food and beverage aboard whether due to medical needs or just personal preference.
It is difficult to stroll the narrow aisles of an airplane with an assistive device to keep your blood flowing, but the luxuriously wide aisles of a train make the blood clot prevention stroll much easier. Train travel is also much easier for those with a variety of medical conditions including those with respitory disorders and sinus issues, to name a few.
Despite some recent unfortunate incidents that have made the news, travel by rail is extremely safe. Getting to and from the train station is, by far, more dangerous than the train journey!