True or False: Step one in booking a business trip involves conducting a flight search.
If you said true, you’re in good company. Many business travelers—and leisure travelers, too—rely solely on the convenience of air travel. Hopping in a rental car? Nah. Traveling via rail? Never done it. Flying the friendly skies has always been your transport of choice. Well, we’re here to open your mind to the benefits of train travel. Before you open your browser to search for flights, consider these six reasons for booking a train for your next business trip.
You’re being a friend to the environment
According to the EPA, aircraft produce 12 percent of all U.S. transportation greenhouse gas emissions. Trains, on the other hand, emit significantly less carbon dioxide compared to planes. We’re not suggesting adding unnecessary length—or agony—to your business trips. However, we are advocating that you consider all of your transportation options, including those that are more sustainable, when you’re booking business trips.
You can save time
That being said, sometimes taking a train is faster than flying—take these eight train routes in Europe, for example. When you factor in wait times at the airport—like those found at the check-in counter and/or bag drop, security checkpoints, the additional time spent waiting at the gate before boarding, waiting in line at customs, and once again at baggage claim—you get hours of time back by heading to the train station instead. Plus, most train journeys depart and arrive at stations located in city centers, meaning you can save more time by avoiding traffic delays (and save money when you can eliminate the cost of additional ground transportation).
… and save money
Speaking of saving money, train travel between many major cities is often cheaper, too. Deutsche Welle, a German media organization, conducted a study analyzing popular travel routes in Europe to compare the financial and environmental costs of flying versus train travel. According to their data, taking the train was cheaper than flying for half of the routes analyzed. Routes where flights were cheaper than trains were primarily operated by low-cost airlines. However, for those travelers who booked travel last-minute, the price gap between taking a plane versus a train grew narrower as the trip drew closer.
You can get work done
Traveling for business—whether it be attending a conference, hosting a client event, or spending time with your remote team—often means your day-to-day work has to wait. For many of us, that equates to working off-hours from the airport, a coffee shop or a hotel lobby—somewhere (anywhere!) where we can get connected to Wi-Fi. However, with each change of location (from hotel lobby to airport to plane), we lose connectivity and productivity time, to boot.
That’s where train travel wins again. For the duration of your journey, you have uninterrupted access to Wi-Fi (some train lines, such as Amtrak in the US and Virgin Trains in the UK, offer free Wi-Fi), the seat pitch and leg room—especially if you’re used to flying in economy—is ideal for setting up a temporary workstation, and there are power outlets available if you neglected to charge your laptop beforehand.
… Or not, and enjoy unique sightseeing instead
Don’t feel like burying your head in work? While most trains don’t offer the seat-back entertainment that flights do, we can do you one better: Traveling by train allows you to not only gain a different perspective on the states or countries you’re traveling through, but you’ll also have the unique opportunity to take in the sights, as well. The Amtrak Cascades route from Eugene, OR to Vancouver, BC, for example, offers passengers views of Mt. Rainier and Mt. Baker before passing through breathtaking rainforests and cloud forests. You can’t experience that 35,000 feet up.
Hipmunk makes it easy to book
Finally, you can book train travel right on Hipmunk—the metasearch site you already know and love. (If you’ve never booked a train on Hipmunk, here’s a quick, helpful video guide to doing so.) You search for trains as you would flights, entering destinations in the From: and To: fields. It’s easiest to type in the name of the station code, such as ‘NYP’ for New York Penn Station, or start typing the city name, in this case ‘New York City’, and the local train station will pop up. Then, you’ll select the corresponding train stations for your journey, and your search results will populate similar to when you’re booking a flight. You can then sort search results by price, agony, or whichever filter matters most to you. Then, book your train as you normally would a flight.
Pro tip: Train results will also show up in flight searches for airports that have train stations at the same destination—presenting the opportunity to directly compare flight and train fare results for your intended journey.
Found a train route that’s cheaper or faster than flying? Tweet us @thehipmunk so we can add it to our reasons to choo-choose train travel.
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