By Mary Hannick
Trains are the perfect way for college students to travel from home to campus. Students love the convenience and parents love the inexpensive cost of train travel.
Trains have long been a favorite in Europe with students backpacking across the continent during their gap year or on vacation. American students who have toured Europe on a budget will be happy to explore the U.S. via Amtrak.
Travel by train fits into a student budget. Amtrak offers a Student Discount year-round. If your kids are between 13 and 25, they just need to show a valid student ID and book their trip 3 days in advance to receive great discounts. If your student is doing a lot of traveling, savings can be significant.
Train prices tend to be highly stable throughout the year – unlike airlines! They seldom change, whatever day of the week it is, even if you buy your ticket at the last minute. You can confidently plan your student’s travel budget and not worry about fare increases.
Reservations are seldom needed for short trips. Most train stations are in the downtown area or fairly close to campus. Once they get off the train, they are minutes away from a hotel or hostel. That’s a big improvement over heading into town from an airport, which can be an expensive cab ride away or a long haul on public transportation.
Your son or daughter will also love the free Wi-Fi on Amtrak. They can work on school papers even as they travel across the country. Seats are wide, with much more legroom than what you find on an airplane. You can get up and move around when you feel like it, without concerns about the seatbelt sign or turbulence.
Travelers, especially students, routinely pack too much and buy too much, increasing their baggage as they go. With train travel, it’s not a concern.
Amtrak allows two pieces of carry-on luggage, up to 50 lbs. each, as well as laptops, briefcases and purses. Each train travelers gets up to 200 pounds of baggage for free. There’s simply no comparison to airlines.
Your student will love seeing America close up when he travels by train. The routes go through forests and over mountains – through deserts, farmland and small towns. Big windows throughout the train, in sleeping compartments, in dining areas and in seating sections, means everyone can enjoy the scenery.
On longer routes, students can splurge in the dining car. They can play videos, use their laptop, read books or just relax and take in the sights.
Train travel becomes part of the journey, not just a means to get from point A to point B. A student heading from Chicago to San Francisco can take the Zephyr, which winds its way through the stunning scenery of the Rocky Mountains and the Sierra Nevada range. The options are endless!
The Harry Potter Series is 20 years old now. Many college students grew up on these books. Your son or daughter probably won’t say it out loud, but what do you bet your student isn’t looking out for Platform 9¾ when they get to the train station?
Traveling by train is an old-fashioned adventure, with very state-of-the-art amenities. From cost to comfort, freedom to flexibility, train travel is an excellent choice for college students.
If you are considering a visit to a college town in Michigan, you have plenty to choose from.
Mary Hannick is a freelance writer specializing in both the tech and health fields. On the side, she also writes about her hobbies–travel, history and fitness. She’s loved trains since her first trip as a child.
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