Travel tips – let the train take the strain

Travel writer Gil­lian Thorn­ton ad­vises let­ting the train take the strain.

The People's Friend - - News -

ANY­ONE who ad­mits to be­ing the wrong side of mid­dle age will re­mem­ber the old ad­ver­tis­ing slo­gan for In­ter­city trains. We were all en­cour­aged to “Let the train take the strain” and the pop­u­lar­ity of rail hol­i­days to­day would in­di­cate that we’ve taken the ad­vice on board.

A jour­ney may take longer by train than by air, but it of­ten com­pares favourably with trav­el­ling by car when you take traf­fic hold-ups and stopovers into ac­count, not to mention the stress fac­tor. Travel by train and you sim­ply sit back and re­lax whilst the world goes past the win­dow, a unique op­por­tu­nity to ab­sorb your new sur­round­ings.

Sud­denly the jour­ney be­comes an in­te­gral part of your hol­i­day and of­ten – in the case of the world’s scenic trains – they get you to places that are not eas­ily ac­ces­si­ble. I’ve taken her­itage trains up moun­tains in North Wales, sliced through Canada on the Rocky Moun­taineer and trav­elled from Venice to Lon­don on board the iconic Ori­ent Ex­press.

For any­one who hates air­ports and fly­ing, rail is the an­swer. Just hop on to Eurostar at Lon­don-st Pan­cras and you can travel di­rect to Paris, Dis­ney­land Paris, Lille and Brus­sels, as well as to Lyon and Avi­gnon on the lat­est ser­vice to Mar­seilles. And just by chang­ing on to a lo­cal high-speed ser­vice, you can soon be head­ing to cities any­where in Europe (www.voy­ages-sncf.com).

For the ul­ti­mate in in­de­pen­dence, cre­ate your own tai­lor-made pack­age of train travel, ac­com­mo­da­tion and ex­cur­sions with the help of a spe­cial­ist such as Rail­book­ers (www. rail­book­ers.co.uk), who also of­fer a wide range of ready-made itin­er­ar­ies for in­de­pen­dent trav­ellers.

Pre­fer to travel in a group? Try an es­corted tour with Rail Dis­cov­er­ies (www.raild­is­cov­er­ies.com) or Great Rail Jour­neys (www.greatrail.com) – with des­ti­na­tions from Scot­land to Slove­nia, Canada to Cam­bo­dia, you’ll be spoiled for choice. n

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