7 reasons why your next family vacation should be a train trip

Rushing through TSA security at the airport with your family can often be stressful, especially if you’re tight on time or you haven’t packed wisely and it takes a few attempts to get through.

Any type of security you encounter at a train station will almost certainly be less stringent than at an airport. You needn’t worry about packing small liquids in your carry-on bag or if your backpack is a few inches larger than the maximum size — luggage weight, size and contents aren’t heavily restricted. Trains also tend to have fewer rules related to bikes, bikes, strollers and other family-friendly items.

More relaxed rules lead to a more relaxing trip in general. In most cases, train stations are located in the city center, not on the outskirts like airports, meaning departure and arrival — especially for city residents — can be simpler and more cost-effective. Seats are more spacious and recline more. You may have four seats that face each other, and you’ll almost always be seated next to your family and friends with no extra charges incurred for seat selection.

Plus, with no takeoff, landing or turbulence, the whole family can board the train, sit down and stand up when needed, and avoid any child (or adult) tears due to uncomfortable, small seats or earache from cabin pressure.

Rates for train rides vary worldwide but, in some cases, they can be more affordable. Sometimes they take less time than flying door-to-door (this is often the case with high-speed rail services in Asia and Europe). Occasionally, they take much longer. You have to weigh the comfort level with the experience and the price for each trip to see what’s right for your family.

For example, here’s a sample summer Amtrak fare from Atlanta to New Orleans for a family of four compared to a sample airfare for a two-week vacation on the same dates. Even the base airfare on Spirit ($1,173, not including any extras like baggage or seat selection) is much higher than the round trip coach train fare ($274). But the train takes almost 13 hours versus less than two when flying.

But private room train prices for this trip start at $1,400 round trip, which is much less than domestic business class roundtrip ($2,469 on Delta). And remember, private rooms on Delta’s domestic business class aren’t a thing.

Assuming you don’t mind spending a full day on the train (remember, you can get up a move around, and there’s a bar car), this might be a more luxurious, comfortable and affordable option for your family.

If you are on a budget, it’s best to research your desired route, comparing the price, journey time and cabin or train car class to see what option affords the best value and comfort for your family.