Travel tips – let the train take the strain
Travel writer Gillian Thornton advises letting the train take the strain.
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