You can get from New York to London in the time it takes to suck down a tiny bottle of cabernet and watch two movies. There’s need to raise your hand for a cab anymore—press a few buttons on your smart phone and voila! you’re on your way to the hotel. The days of seeking out an internet café to check your email feels almost as old-timey as sending a telegram. It’s never been easier—or speedier—to travel.
But is that always a good thing? When is the last time you really, truly had nothing but time to unplug, relax, and soak up your surroundings? When was the last time the journey really was as spectacular as the destination? Let’s be honest: when was the last time you were on a bona fide train?
In May, I’m climbing aboard one of the world’s most fabulous travel experiences on wheels: a rail journey with Rocky Mountaineer. We’ll be rolling from Vancouver to Banff, soaking up incredible 180-degree views of the Western Rockies through glass-domed train cars. While I’m excited about the five-star meals, regional beer and wine, and stellar service, it’s the unparalleled access to wilderness that I can’t stop daydreaming about. Think about it—how would you normally get from Vancouver to Banff? Commercial airplane or car, probably. In the former, you get there fast but with views from 35,000 feet (if you’re seated at a window and it’s a clear day). When driving, you’re tied to the highway. The vistas are lovely, but taking your eyes off the road isn’t an option. Add in bathroom breaks, gas station snacks and relying on whoever is riding shotgun staying awake long enough to tell you which exit to take, and you’re certainly on an adventure but not necessarily a vacation.
When you travel by train, you hand over the logistics to someone else. Not only that, you’re transported into the heart of an untamed wilderness of vast forests, snow-topped peaks and rugged terrain. These are places impossible to visit by car. As you thread through majestic mountains, you may even see grey wolves, white-tailed deer, moose, mountain goats and grizzly bears. Want to get closer to the action? Head to the outdoor viewing platform.
Another feature I secretly love? There's no WiFi on board. I think I speak for many of us that the only way I will truly unplug is if I’m forced to. And I do thank Rocky Mountaineer for taking the digital distractions off the table. I promise, nothing on Instagram can outshine the view from your window. If you’re seriously addicted to your phone, don’t worry—you’ll spend the nights in elegant, WiFi connected hotels along the way.
If you’re craving a wilderness experience that doesn’t require DEET and a tent whose assemblage will test your marriage, join me on this once in a lifetime journey through the Canadian Rockies.