“Planes, Trains and Automobiles” is the name of a well-known 1987 movie. But it’s also a question that many travelers to Great Britain ask themselves when choosing a mode of transportation. The next time your cruise starts here or you’re just looking for a new way to explore during an overland excursion, here’s why we think you might just love a train ride.
Never thought about riding the rails? You might change your mind after reading these eight reasons why you should heed the call to get “All aboard.”
Driving in Great Britain can be daunting.
For starters, you’ll be traveling on the opposite side of the road than in the United States. And while you’ll probably adjust fairly quickly to motoring on the left, it can be easy to slip into ingrained habits when you’re tired or thinking of other things (like how to find your hotel).
Plus, traffic and parking can be a nightmare, especially in cities like London or Edinburgh. London also charges a £11.50 congestion fee if you drive a vehicle within a designated zone between 7:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.
You can enjoy the scenery.
It takes a lot of concentration to drive in an unfamiliar country. You’re always looking for road signs and trying to avoid collisions. But when you ride on a train, you can sit back and really take in the breathtaking beauty and many attractions that can be found in Great Britain.
For instance, if you were to ride the train from Glasgow to Mallaig through the Scottish Highlands, you would pass by Ben Nevis, the tallest mountain in Britain, and you would also cross the famous Glenfinnan Viaduct that appeared in the Harry Potter films.
You’ll spend more quality time with your companions.
Traveling with that special someone? On a train, you can give that person full time and attention. Perhaps, you might even want to snuggle together as you watch the scenery pass by. Traveling with your family?
Riding on a train will give you an opportunity to more fully engage with your children. Bring a guidebook or look things up on the Internet (some trains, not all, have WiFi), so you can share information with your children about the towns and attractions that you’ll be riding past.
Trains are more fun than a car ride for kids.
Have a Thomas the Tank Engine fan? Then seeing Britain by train will be extra special for them. Then there is the freedom of movement that your children can enjoy on a train. Instead of being strapped in a seat hour after hour, your kids can get up and stretch or move around a bit.
Speaking of children, kids under five who don’t need a seat (meaning that they can fit on a parent’s lap) typically ride for free on a train. In addition, children between the ages of five to fifteen typically get a 50 percent discount on their ticket. There are even some instances — with the BritPass, for example — where children ages five to fifteen actually ride for free when accompanied by a parent.
Riding on a train can be less stressful.
Would you rather sit back and relax, perhaps even take a snooze, as you travel from one destination to another, or deal with traffic and navigating unknown roads? And it’s not just the driver who gets stressed during road trips. Getting lost or backseat driving, for example, can lead to tense, angry exchanges during a road trip.
Train rides offer a way to interact with locals.
If you’re the friendly sort, who has no trouble striking up conversations, being a passenger on a train will give you an opportunity to talk with residents. You might even learn about a few excellent, but off-the-grid places to eat or a special, can’t-miss event that might be going on at your next destination.
Trains are better for the environment.
If you pride yourself on being a mindful, green traveler, then you’ll definitely want to travel by rail. Research has shown that auto traffic pollution kills approximately 5,000 people a year in Britain.
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