My work requires that I go on the road occasionally. Not traveling salesman level stuff but 3 or 4 times a year for maybe 3-6 days at a time. Like most folks I fly hither and yon with all that modern air travel has come to entail: the rush, the risk,the parking, the lines, the cramp and the crunch. I had only been on three or four planes prior to 9-11 so it hadn't ever come to be normal, which is to say, I don't really know what it was like before that fateful day. As it is, I experience these trips, or rather the 'getting there' part of each trip, as purely utilitarian and defined exclusively by cost and time efficiency.
But I'm writing this blog on a train, still an hour from my destination and 18 hours south of where I started. It's something I've been meaning to try for years but just never got around to it
Last night, in the community dining car, I met a man who was born in Nigeria, studied in England and now works in Silicon Valley. He said that we had taken all the fun out of traveling. Across the table was a man who spent 8 months of the year with a mobile kitchen servicing the hundreds of Hot Shots and Smoke Jumpers who attack wildfires all around the country and he just couldn't stand the restriction and the pace of airports and planes. I heard their stories and thought of the dozens of terminals I've been in over the last ten years.
Riding the train costs you something. It takes longer, schedules are less flexible, and it can cost more depending on how you do the math. I don't dispute that trains are less quick and efficient than planes but what about the experience?
From. UX perspective I found the train ride orders of magnitude more enjoyable, more productive and less stressful. The scenery was fantastic, the ride and the bed were comfortable and the food (included in the price by the way) was remarkably good. From another, more personal angle, where were fond of saying "it's the journey, not the destination, that matters" then I slap myself and ask "How have I missed this?"
Perhaps it's too soon to say I'm a convert but I did have a fantastic experience, one I'm anxious to repeat, and in contrast to the comment of my Fellow traveler from Nigeria, traveling was fun again.
www.amtrak.com didn't pay me a dime...but maybe they should. :)