If you’re tired of no legroom, overpriced food, and a tiny view of the same white clouds from your airplane window, consider making your next journey by train. Sure, it might take a little (OK, a lot) longer to get where you’re going, but count on your trip being more memorable, more scenic, and more satisfying.
Australia’s Indian Pacific route is named for the two oceans that bookend the journey: the Pacific Ocean in Sydney and the Indian Ocean in Perth. The Indian Pacific is an impressive and relatively comfortable way to explore Australia’s vast and inhospitable outback. The train’s six-day route crosses the Nullarbor Plain, which is viewed by many as the quintessential experience of the Australian Outback. With no trees or defining features to facilitate navigation, the Plain claimed the lives of many early explorers; today it’s considered a point of pride to say you’ve crossed it.
In the States, Amtrak’s Empire Builder takes you from Chicago to Portland or Seattle through the American West. The train travels through Milwaukee and St. Paul before entering North Dakota and Montana, where it takes you alongside hot springs, the Fort Peck Dam, and the Fort Peck Indian Reservation. The last leg of the trip passes through Glacier National Park and the Cascade Mountains before splitting in Spokane, Washington, to take travelers to either Seattle or Portland. The journey takes 46 hours in total, unless you pay extra for hop on/hop off privileges to stop over at one of the many national parks the Empire Builder rolls past.
Russia’s Trans-Siberian Railway is the longest continuous rail line in the world and covers almost 6,000 miles, which is more than one third of the globe. The trip from Moscow to Vladivostok travels through some beautiful parts of the countryside, but the real appeal of the Trans-Siberian Railway is the opportunity to interact with your fellow travelers. The railway is a regular mode of transportation for the people living along the route, so you won’tjust be mingling with camera-happy tourists.