We all seem to be in a hurry to get places. We want the fastest route, the shortest flight and the quickest option. But what if the destination is the mode of travel itself? Maybe the way of getting there could be the destination or at least a significant part of the trip. Can we step back to a time when luxury travel was actually the destination rather than just the means of getting to a desired locale?
No doubt the cruise industry has grown because of our belief that it is easier to be in luxury surroundings as we travel to various locations. But the pace of most cruises today caters to our desire to get some place quickly, to see the top sights and then to move on (generally overnight) to the next location. The destination is hardly ever viewed as the ship itself. Certainly the ship and the level of service are important, but in the end are we talking about the scenery we saw on the way or the snippets of locales?
Recently, I took a Belmond train from Victoria Station in London to Canterbury to experience Christmas in Canterbury (it really brought Christmas home). While traveling in a small compartment where we had our own butler, we were served a champagne brunch and on our return trip a four course dinner of wine and gourmet food. I realized that the fun of the train trip was actually the train itself. On the train, we were treated as if we were the gentried class of long ago England. I was having my own Downton Abbey moment. I was Lady Mary traveling with my three steamer trunks and my staff to attend to all my needs. It was indeed a pleasure.
I remembered that I had had a similar luxury train travel experience a few years ago on the Blue Train in South Africa. This was an overnight adventure where you could sit during the day and watch the African tundra as you were feasting on the gourmet offerings or drinking that traditional gin and tonic. No need to worry about anything. Just sit back and watch the surroundings as the train journeys forward.
There are many options for luxury train travel. In Canada, if you really want to experience the Canadian Rockies, you might want to consider the Rocky Mountaineer. You can travel for two days in daylight on trips from Vancouver to Banff while enjoying the majesty of the mountains. Or you can travel on to Calgary. On these trips the train stops for the evening at various hotels on the route. Or you can combine the train with an Alaskan cruise.
The Royal Canadian Pacific originates in Calgary and is another alternative offering six nights on board overnight trips traveling through the mountains of Alberta and British Colombia. There is a special fly fishing itinerary offered or a general itinerary exploring the heritage and terrain with many wildlife viewings. This train has been the home to many visiting dignitaries (including Queen Elizabeth). There are only 32 guests in 19 staterooms.
Or if you really want a luxury train travel adventure, consider the art-deco designed Venice Simplon Orient Express (another Belmond adventure), where you can return to the 1920s glamorous style of travel, with polished wood, overstuffed upholstery and antique features. The train travels from Venice to Paris and London (with some additional itineraries stopping or originating in Verona, Vienna, Budapest and Prague) and caters to special requests for special events.
Belmond has other trains throughout the world, including Peru, Scotland and England, along with a new train in Ireland. You can also experience the Eastern Oriental Express in Southeast Asia for a different way of experiencing journeys between Bangkok, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur.
And if you really want to experience something different, you might consider renting your own private rail car. Some of these private rail cars can be rented or hired in connection with a touring luxury train. But location and décor is key—finding the right rail car and the route is often difficult. Amtrak provides the ability to add rail cars to some of their specified North American train routes. If you are interested, you may want to look into getting more information from The American Association of Private Rail Car Owners (AAPRCO).
To get further information on luxury train travel and promotions and discounts, you may want to join the Luxury Train Club, where you can get additional details and see a calendar of all of the luxury trains and their destinations. It is free to join.