You know Ryan and I are fascinated by trains. Combine that with unbelievable vacation options and point us to the club car. Today we’re discussing to types of train vacations that will have you wanting to climb aboard.
2 Terrific Train Trips
- What is it about trains that have us so intrigued when it comes to vacations?
- Highland Adventure
- Rocky Mountaineer
Question: Where would you like to take a train trip?
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Episode 111 Transcripts
Episodes are transcribed with artificial intelligence,s so there are likely some highly amusing translations!
Shayne: Hello, and welcome to All Things Travel. You know, Ryan and I are fascinated by trains. Combine that with unbelievable vacation options and point us to the club car. Today, we’re discussing two types of train vacations that will have you wanting to climb a board.
You’re listening to all things. Travel episode 111 original air date, June 1st, 2020. And yeah,
Ryan: So Shayne, before we get going today, June 1st has a little bit of a specialness.
Shayne: it does. It’s very special for us and our agency.
Ryan: So June 1st is the four year anniversary of our agency creating magic vacation. So we want to say quick congratulations to the agents who are our friends and colleagues, and especially to the agency owners and founders, Robin, Carrie Stewart, who are on our 50th episode. If you were.
Shayne: Yeah, congratulations Rob and Kerri,. And thank you, Rob and Kerri, cause this has been a fun ride and it looks like it will continue to be a fun ride.
Ryan: Absolutely. We love it. Well, Hey Shayne, what is it about trains that have us so intrigued when it comes to the idea of.
Shayne: You mean you and me personally, or just as a culture
Ryan: but also, it just there’s this romantic kind of this throwback to a different era of train travel. But I think for me, I don’t know, I just, it’s one of those things that every time I think about it, every time I see it in a movie or a different type of travel that I’m researching, it just sounds so dang.
Shayne: yeah. I, I guess it goes back to Johnny Cash songs, Rock island line and Orange Blossom, Special, which I guess aren’t technically Johnny Cash songs, but that’s how I became familiar with. Johnny Cash. And then, books and movies like Murder on the Orient Express. And then, um, probably recently the biggest reason would be the, the Hogwarts express from the Harry Potter movies.
Ryan: Yep. And the, and then being able to experience that in some version at a Universal Studios, right?
Shayne: And perhaps the real thing, I might mention something like
Ryan: we’re going to talk a little bit about that.
Ryan: And I have a family connection with drains. My grandfather. Drove the south shore train from south bend Indiana to, to Chicago, uh, Illinois. That was his job. And he came from a train family. And so growing up, um, he worked till I was at elementary school so I didn’t see him working a lot, but trains were always there, whether it’s the stuff at their house or the stories from him growing up.
That that was a really special thing for our family. So I, there’s just a connection there that really for, for me is special.
Shayne: Yeah. And short trips by train or a lot of fun. I think I was in fifth grade. We took a field trip. And we went to a museum in Fort worth. And then from Fort worth, we took a shortish train trip to a town called Cleburne and on the way the train stopped.
And we’re all looking out the window gone. What is going on? What is going on? It turned out that a small pickup had tried to race the train and was run over by the train
Ryan: And let me guess that the
Shayne: and wait
Shayne: the pickup loss they had, the train usually wins. So it was, we sat there for a long time waiting for, I don’t know what, in fifth grade.
And it was funny getting home so late and all the parents are so worried about, oh no, what state are the kids going to be in? And we’re all super excited because we just had a train ride. Yeah. Because trains, man, it’s just, everybody loves them.
Ryan: Very cool. We have some amazing vacations to talk about today, but first Shayne, like always, I want to know where in the world is. All things travel.
Shayne: This one surprised me pleasant view Colorado.
Ryan: Pleasant view Colorado. Welcome.
Shayne: It is kind of in the middle of nowhere. It’s near an area where my parents lived for a long time in Southwest Colorado, north of a little tiny little town called Dolores. Which is in the four corners region near the four corners monument. And, it was interesting that it showed up today on mother’s day, we’re recording this on mother’s day because one of my mom’s first jobs when they moved to Dolores was at the Dolores public library.
So sitz thought that was kinda neat that area would come up today.
Ryan: Very cool. Very cool. We are so glad that you are listening Colorado. Do us a favor. Reach out to us. Either through Facebook or the emails and let us know who you are, because we would love to share a gift with you for being featured today.
Shayne: And to make sure that you don’t miss where in the world is All things travel next week. Be sure to subscribe to the show and never miss any of our travel tips, travel ideas, or travel stories.
Ryan: All right. So today, as we were prepping for this show, Shayne, we each talked about a certain type of train vacation that we had learned about that we know about, that we were really excited to go on. And so we’re going to share those today and yours takes us to Europe. Correct?
Shayne: That is correct.
Ryan: I want to hear all that.
Shayne: All right. So mine is the Highland Adventure with Vacations by Rail. I had in mind a trip that takes you from point a to point B with a few stops. And a lot of scenery in between, but there was a one train in particular that I wanted to make sure I included.
So I ended up with this itinerary that has more of a location as hub and then excursions from that.
Ryan: Gotcha. Sounds good.
Shayne: So Highland Adventure, of course, that means it’s in Scotland and it begins in, Invernes, Scotland. And that is your hub. Now, are you familiar with a famous body of water that is near Invernes, Scotland?
Shayne: Yeah, because the River Ness flows right through Invernes.
Shayne: then not far away is the Loch Ness, which I hear as infested with monsters.
Ryan: Okay. All right. That’s news to me, but I’ll believe you.
Shayne: so this is on a few different types of trains. You’re going to enjoy four different trains. During this week. Two of them are going to be classic nostalgic steam trains, and one is more of a commuter type train. And then there’s another, that’s in the middle, but still through just the glorious Scottish Highlands.
There’s some absolutely stunning country.
Ryan: the morning with some whiskey in your coffee and enjoy, a nice sweater because of the chill in the air.
And there’s a little bit of a fog and there’s just green, everywhere. That’s what I’m envisioning right now.
Shayne: I think you envision, you’re envisioning the same pictures that I saw.
Ryan: Okay. All
Shayne: So day one day one is when you arrive in, in, Inverness and that’s again, that’s gonna be hard to say in, Invernes,
In fairness, Inverness, I’m going to say Inverness. I like it. That sounds better. There’s cool things in Inverness, including the River Ness, and then the Inverness Castle and the Iverness Cathedral, and a lot of the pub culture, a lot of things to do in a lot of these are right along that river.
So it just. A fun day. If you’re only going to spend that one day off, I think it would be nice to spend an extra day or 30 before or after the excursion. And then as part of this itinerary dinners included on the first day.
So this with a group, or are you by yourself on this trip?
Shayne: This is going to be a group trip because, of the things that it includes is a UK tour manager. So there’s
Ryan: Gotcha. Okay. All
Shayne: you from place to place.
It reminded me of a little bit of Adventures by Disney, just not to that next level.
Like Disney vacation.
first day, you’ll take a road coach from Inverness to Fort William Scotland. And then from there is where you’ll take the Jacob Steam Train to Mallaig. Scotland, which is a port town on the west coast of the Highlands. And there you’ll have lunch. And looking at this place, Mallaig, I want to stay here.
I want to spend at least a day here.
Ryan: Yeah. Yeah.
Shayne: it’s lunch. And then you take the train back to Fort William. But the cool thing about this, this is the entire reason I picked this trip is this Jacobite Steam Train is the inspiration for the Hogwarts Express.
Shayne: So even though it’s a short train ride, it takes you through the mountains.
And it’s the one that goes along the Glenfinnan viaducts to the mountains, which are those tall bridges with the arches that you see in the Harry Potter movies. And yeah. Stunning breathtaking views. And on this second day, breakfast and dinner are included. So you got on your own for lunch and. And then one thing to keep in mind about this is, for me, this is the kind of the highlight of the trip. The Jacobites steam Train doesn’t start running until mid May. So you’ll, this will definitely be a summer trip. And that’s one of the reasons why you and I included summer dates when we price these trips.
Ryan: Yes. Yes.
Shayne: After the Jacob I train takes you back to Port Williams, then you take the motorcoach back to Inverness for that for the evening where you’re staying in a pretty cool hotel. We’ll get to that later though.
Day three is an excursion by rail to the Eileen Donan Castle.
Shayne: you’ll take the Kyle Line from Inverness to a place called Kyle of Lochalsh which is also on that Western coast in the Highlands of Scotland. And it looks like more of a commuter style train, but it goes through some of the most scenic
landscapes of Scotland. Going along the lakes and through the mountains. And I spent quite a bit of time geeking out, running through moving Google maps through the trails, just looking at all the interesting places. And so it includes tour of this Eileen Donin Castle, which is on this little island where these three lakes converge in this old, castle just looks like a fun time to go and see this nature and the scenery, and learn a little history along the way. And then on this day, breakfast is the only meal included.
On day four from Evernote, we’ll take a Highland Iverness train, which is that one that’s in the middle, a little nostalgic, but also
Ryan: This sounds like a train lover’s dream to travel on all these different modes of trains.
Shayne: Yeah. Yeah. And that’s one of the cool things about it is that you’re a little more modern train travel and then the more classic steam engine train travel. You’ll take this Highland railroad for a visit to a town called Aviemore. And from there, you’ll take another steam train, the Strathspey Steam Train to Broomhill, Scotland.
And from there, you’ll take a road coach to Culloden battlefield, which is the location of the 1746 battle of Culloden, which was the last major battle fought on British soil. And you’ll get to visit the battlefield and the visitor center there learned Some more British history and.
Yeah, learn some more history and see the gorgeous scenery. And then from Culloden you’ll take motorcoach back to Inverness. So yeah, just in these four days so far breathtaking nature’s some train nostalgia, some British history,
Ryan: Well, and I do have to say because my wife and I do love watching Outlander that that is the major battle. That is a pivotal moment in that television series.
Shayne: The itinerary farthest does mention a few shows that are, that were recognizable along some of this, but I hadn’t watched any of them other than, one of them was a scene of Highlander. I think the Eilean Donan Castle was. Some of Highlander was built in there, but yeah I wasn’t familiar with those shows, but I’m glad you are.
Ryan: Yeah, there you go.
Shayne: And then it’s a five day itinerary. So day five is your farewell from the Highlands. It includes a breakfast and pretty much the checkout. And then you’re on your own to hang around Inverness or the Scottish Highlands. And, uh, So, a few things about this though is one is Inverness,
as I mentioned, it’s a really neat location because the river nest flows through it, down to the Lochness. And there’s a, kind of reminds me of lake Tahoe where there’s a road that you can drive all the way around the lake. If you want to with. Bed and breakfasts and hotels and lookouts all along the way.
It just seems like it would be a great day driving around Lochness, even if you don’t get to see any monsters. And then the other thing I wanted to point out is this palace hotel and spa it, the accommodations are included in the trip
Ryan: So, this is where you’re going to be staying during this trip.
Shayne: Yes. And so when they’re talking about, what’s included, all the rail and coach travel is included. You can upgrade to first class coach. You can upgrade to a first class car, But I didn’t, I don’t have the pricing for that. The heritage rail excursions are included the UK tour manager.
And then that was a total of four breakfasts and three dinners that are included in the price. The thing about this Inverness Palace Hotel and Spa, a lot of times here, when there’s a lot of hotels here in the states that have palace in the name, and that’s usually a marketing
Ryan: But they’re probably not a real palace, like in Scotland,
Shayne: yes, this place looks like a palace.
It’s got turrets it’s right on the river Ness. It’s a really cool looking hotel. It’s definitely a place where you would want to stay. And so what I priced was, for a trip for two and I tried to pick dates that were as close as possible to the dates that you picked by yours.
Shayne: So July 13th through July 17th, 2023 are the dates for this trip. And the cost came out to $1,395 per person.
Shayne: That’s what I mean, there’s going to be a little bit of cost, to Inverness. But when I saw that price, I thought, that’s awesome. I I would do that.
Ryan: Yeah. So no seriously,
Shayne: Yeah, I don’t, I wouldn’t balk at that at all.
Ryan: All right. I like that Shayne.
Shayne: Yeah. It looks, looks like a lot of fun.
Ryan: So for my trip, I went with something that I have been drooling over for a long time. I learned about Rocky Mountaineer. I think it was in 2019, and I’ve just been captivated with them ever since.
These are the glass domed trains that go through the Rockies and the Canadian Rockies and the us Rockies out in the west. And man, I just, I’m in love with these trips.
Shayne: Yeah, I love the dome views are awesome because when you’re driving through these types of places, you want to look at the scenery, but you can’t, you have to watch the road because you’re on dangerous Kirby roads with the drop-offs. And this gives you the chance to travel through these sceneries and take in the views.
Ryan: Yeah, you can just relax and take it all in. And so like yours, you travel by train during the day and then you have really nice accommodations. At night. And so really when I think about who this is for, this is the traveler who wants something different they’ve cruised before, they’ve traveled different places and they just want to see someplace different in a different way.
a lot of times people will couple these with Alaskan cruises because they’re going in and out of Vancouver. These are nature lovers. These are photographers. These are folks that are pretty well-traveled I think, but really appreciate, like you said, with your trip, the done for you aspect of it.
So with Rocky Mountaineer, they have three tracks right now, pun intended. They have the Rockies to the red rocks. So this is Moab to Denver. Then they have Vancouver bay. And then they have Vancouver to Jasper and you can do this several different ways. You can do a trip going either way. So it’s like a river cruise.
So you could go Moab to Denver or Denver to Moab, or you could do a circle trip where you combine two trips and started one place. Go to the neck, go to the ultimate destination and then back. So you could start in Denver and end in Denver. So just to give you an idea in general of what’s included, and then I’ll talk about two specific trips here in a second.
This is what’s included for. Your breakfast and lunch. So you get on the train. The first thing that happens is you start with your coffee. You start with your breakfast and on the train later on, you also have your lunch and these are served to you. This is not a boxed lunch or boxed breakfast. This is sit down at a table in a dining car.
Enjoying it. Okay. And the food is locally inspired. They use ingredients and foods based on where you’re traveling, drinks and snacks, including alcoholic drinks are available throughout the day comfortable seating. So this is not usual train seating. This is more like business class in an airline type level of comfort.
Your hotel stays. The dome windows obviously, but also viewing areas. So being able to get out of the train and seeing things as you’re going along, you’re gonna have hosts and guides that are narrating for you all along the way. So you can understand what you’re seeing, what you will be seeing, where you should be taking photos, history of the air.
And then photo opportunities along the way where they’ll actually allow you to take photos based on the best spots on the trip. Okay. So that’s everything that’s included. Now you have two different levels. You have a silver level and a gold level. Those dictate your seating arrangements, how much access do you have?
Two different types of windows, maybe some upgraded food options. So that’s something to consider, along the. So I looked at a trip like you did, I will get the rainforest to gold rush trips. So this was Vancouver to Jasper. I looked at two adults for July 15th, 2023. And the, I looked at two different types of trips because what Rocky Mountaineer offers is they offer just the train trip and then they offer an extended trip that, that has more aspects to it.
And so I looked at both of those. So you could get a comparrison.
when I went through, I chose the Gold Option because if I looked at the gold versus the silver, I thought, I want to spend a little bit of money to make sure that I’m very comfortable. I’m willing to spend a little bit of extra money to have some upgraded amenities.
So this takes you through Vancouver, north Vancouver, Whistler Quesnel, and Jasper. a three day, two night trip. And on your first day, you go from Vancouver to Whistler. So you go through the stunning scenery of the sea to sky corridor. You go along the house sound and the coast mountains, the Br’er Brandywine falls, mountain Garibaldi, and the Chica miss canyon.
You have breakfast. And you will actually arrive to Whistler in the morning, around noon and the rest of the day is yours to enjoy there at Whistler. You have accommodations in whisper. Again, you can upgrade those if you choose. I did not do that for this. The second day, you’re going Whistler to Quesnel.
So you’re leaving in the morning, starting with breakfast. You’re going to enjoy breathtaking scenery, from river canyons to lush farm lands, through desert-like conditions and in the freezer canyon to rolling Hills, fast ranch lands. And you’re going to be pretty much spending the entire day on the train, seeing all these things, getting into Quesnel that.
You’ll have a hotel there in Quesnel. And then day three, you go to Quesnel to Jasper. So you are going to be go. You’re going to follow the Frazier river north to the town of prince George, and then travel east through the forest of Northern British Columbia. And you’re going to be entering the Rocky mountain trench.
And you’re going to be going all the way into the province of Alberta and arriving at Jasper. So that’s going to include three breakfasts and two lunches. It’s going to include three days of Rocky mountain.
Uh, service your luggage handling and rail station transfer. So this is one of those things. You drop off your, in the morning, you drop off your luggage in the hotel to the Porter. It goes on the train. You don’t see it again until you’re at the next hotel. And
it’s going to include two nights in Whistler and in Quesnel.
For two adults then that is 66 0 4 94.
Shayne: I’ve been a Moab a couple of times, and these are the pretty remote destinations, right? You don’t just take plane to the, either one of those. And both times I went to them, I had that feeling that I wasn’t going to go back just because. I went the other way. I went the Alberta route, I guess I flew to Calgary and drove from there for Moab.
It was back when my parents live in that Southwestern, Colorado region. And I drove out once a kind of a day trip a couple of years later, a buddy and I went, for some camping and hiking and these places are way out there. And to be able to get to those places with that level of luxury
it’s hard to appreciate unless you’ve gone the other way. Right. And that just seems like such a fun trip to have that level of service, that level of comfort and the ability to take in those views the entire way just sounds like so much fun.
Ryan: So Shayne, this trip that I’m going to talk about now is the wall. Trip. And so this is a very different type of trip. This is an 11 day, 10 night trip, still encompassing this initial train ride, but you’re going to see how they expand upon it. Okay. So day one, you’re in Vancouver. And you’re going and you have a day in Vancouver, so you arrive in Vancouver and spend time exploring.
And then you have an a night in Vancouver where your accommodations are taken care of. Okay. But think of that as a pre cruise night, if you will, then you have your normal Vancouver to Whistler, just like I just, like I explained. Previously with your accommodation and Whistler day three is your Whistler to Quesnel, same as before.
And then day four is Quesnel to Jack. Just like what I talked about before, and then this is where things get different. Basically. The second half of your trip then is added on to what I talked about previously with the short trip,
you have a day in Jasper that is free time. It’s a resort towns surrounding with a surrounding national park.
Um, To just enjoy nature. And you are staying at the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge, which is situated on, the magnificent Jasper National Park and a Unesco World Heritage site. Then the next day, day six, you travel. from Jasper to Banff and you actually do this via coach. Okay. So you’re, now you’re not on a train, but you’re on a travel coach.
Where, again, everything’s taken care of for you. You are on this day, you also then do an ice explore you tour the Athabaskan glacier in a six wheel drive ice explore via. Okay. Think of monster truck meets glacier. At least that’s the way that it’s described on the website. You do a glacier skywalk.
All right. Where you can walk on a boardwalk leading up to a glacier,
Ryan: then you spend the night at bay. The next day you’re in Banff on your own for the leisure. So you can, spend time in vamp, take the gondola up to the top of sulfur mountain, check out the wildlife. Then on day eight, you go from Banff to Lake Louise.
takes you into Yohan National Park. so you’ll see everything there and then you’re staying in Lake Louise day nine, you spend the day in a Lake Louise. And then on day 10, you go from Lake Louise to Calgary. So today you’ll enjoy a full day tour concluding in Calgary.
Begin your morning with a sight-seeing tour advanced among the points of interest are both falls, surprise, corner, and the hoodoos before you leave van Banff, you’ll enjoy a spectacular boat cruise on lake Michigan. Banff gondola is included.
you’re doing the Banff gondola and you’re heading up to Calgary.
And then the Calgary, your journey ends on checkout from Calgary. So what’s included here, Shayne, your national park passes, your ice Explorer, your glacier skywalk, your Banff gondola two breakfast and three lunches. now that’s not including your train that’s beyond the train. Okay. Three days, Rocky Mountaineer service, luggage handling 10 nights of hotel stays in Vancouver, Whistler. Quesnel.
Now Jasper Banff, lake Louise and Calgary. And this for two adults again, July of 2023. Is just at $15,000. So very pricey. These trips are pricey, but look at everything that’s included. It’s a done for you vacation, giving you access to all these amazing places.
Shayne: Yeah, we talk about the river cruises that don’t take you to destinations. They take you through destinations and this is taking you through the Canadian
Ryan: I think this is a land river cruise. I really, really think it is, this is a land river cruise type of vacation. And gosh, it just, reading about this and seeing the pictures and one of the things I know for, from researching Rocky Mountaineer is, choosing the time of year.
You want to do this because as you can imagine, Spring is very different than summer is very different than fall.
Well, I don’t know, Shayne, what are your general thoughts about these vacations? Does this stoke your fire, if you will, for a train vacation?
Shayne: kind of see now where I didn’t before a resemblance between. River cruising and traveling by rail because they’re all a little more luxurious than the typical modes of transportation. And you’re going into places that you wouldn’t otherwise get to see.
Yeah, fits my travel style. Definitely traveling more deeper than wider. And yeah, this sounds very exciting to me.
Ryan: Yeah. We’ve gone to Scotland, we’ve gone to U S Rockies. We’ve gone to the Canadian Rockies. These sound like unbelievable travel dream destinations. You know that Shayne and I are both travel advisors with creating magic vacations. We have a passion for these vacations on a train.
If we can help you. In planning any of these, please reach out to us. You can reach me, firstname.lastname@example.org. That’s R Y a N or Shayne. That’s S H a Y N E.
Shayne: There was a lot of options between these two types of trips. So we understand that most families are confused and overwhelmed when planning a vacation and we work with you to plan a trip that’s perfect for your interests, saving you time, money, and stress.
Shayne: to tell you the story. The bees and Mo and the strange sounds in the bathroom and Moab.