Travel advice

And Brightline appears to be proceeding with a high speed train service to Las Vegas: under 90 minutes from an LA suburb to Vegas.

I don’t think we will ever have a high speed train service in Canada. Best candidate population wise would be the Toronto-Montreal corridor but it would be incredibly expensive to build a new line there. I would love a train that could average even 50 mph between Vancouver and Seattle: Amtrak takes almost 5 hours to cover that under-150 mile distance.

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Yeah, Amtrak left a lot to be desired when I was going back & forth from Seattle to Portland a lot. It was SO much faster to drive. The only good thing about the train was that it went right by the stadiums so if you were going to a game you could just walk. And you could drink as much as you wanted at the game because you had a long train ride home before you were going to drive anywhere.

But even so… too slow!

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The Vancouver-Seattle train service was perfect for Vancouverites for a day trip to take in an afternoon Seahawks or Mariners game: arrives around noon near the Seattle stadiums and departs after 5 pm with all the other advantages you mentioned.

There is talk about a high speed Portland-Seattle-Vancouver train but the price tag is daunting. Seattle and Portland are two of my favourite US cities. I would much prefer visiting them by train then by car.


And I’m sure that more Seattleites and Portlanders would visit Vancouver too. It would benefit the economies of all 3 cities.

They need to build HSR between LA & SF, between Portland & Vancouver via Seattle, and eventually connect the two lines and extend down to San Diego. So they need to coordinate with the same kind of track so that you can eventually run one train all the way from Vancouver to San Diego.


I have done several long haul Amtrak runs and the best I have used is the Coast Starlight from Seattle to LA. Although it is slow, buying a sleeper berth gives you free meals in a nice dining car, a viewing car, a cinema, wine tastings, lectures, etc. The price is quite reasonable if you book far enough in advance. Certainly a much better deal than the Canadian long haul train routes.

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I have done a few, and the Coast Starlight has been on my list for a long time.

My favorite that I have done is Portland to Whitefish MT. In the summer, you go up the Columbia River gorge for nice views in the late afternoon. Have a nice dinner, go to bed, and you wake up in the AM to pulling into Whitefish MT outside Glacier National Park.

I’ve also taken the Crescent both ways from atlanta

I have taken that train all the way to Chicago (for an SOA meeting) and you were wise to get off early. Wasn’t much to see after Montana! Also one night on a train is fun but the second one can be too much.

Have also taken that train in winter as far as the Izaak Walton Inn in Montana. Wonderful car-free holiday as you can walk from the train station to the inn. Great place for a Nordic ski holiday. Wish we had a similar facility in BC on a train line as I hate winter driving.

I was thinking the same but you could add an extra country and extend it to Tijuana.

Yeah, maybe eventually. The problem is that LA-SF is extraordinarily over budget as well as past the scheduled completion date.

The LA-SF train was a nice idea but I doubt I will see its completion in my lifetime.

I don’t know if it would have been feasible to have run some of the train route down the middle of an existing freeway but I have seen that approach work well sometimes. I used to go to Chicago frequently on business and always enjoyed taking the train from O’Hare to downtown, riding down the middle of the expressway while breezing past all of the car commuters.

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I actually ended up taking the cheaper TriRail instead of the Brightline train from FLL to Miami, and then again from Miami to Boca. The biggest issue with both lines is the frequency. With trains going once an hour you can end up waiting a long time, plus if you’re taking an uber there you’ll have to deal with the uncertainty with getting a car at the time you want.

Don’t know about the Brightline stations but TriRail was not all that convenient. Had to take a shuttle from the airport to the train station, then had to wait in an open air station, which is not the most comfortable thing in the Florida heat. Plus some of the stations have a long walk from the parking lot to the platform - not ideal in hot weather with luggage.

In hindsight I would have been better off just taking an uber, even with the traffic, but no big deal as I still got to spend good quality of time in Miami and Boca.

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Flights between Vancouver and Toronto in July/August this year appear to be about half of the ridiculous fares of last summer. Have to think that Porter Airlines starting on that route has forced WestJet and Air Canada to lower fares. Nothing like the introduction of a strong competitor to lower fares. There are some low cost airlines on that route as well but they have sketchy performance so don’t have much impact.


I smiled at the (gifted) article below as I have always been amused by Americans and Canadians obsession with carrying water with them when they are travelling in Europe. My wife and kids always have water bottles with them. Are we obsessed with the amount of water we drink?


I think this hits on a key part of the issue.

I think most Europeans have a far better diet than Americans. If I was to find a natural analogy, I’d say that they’re more like koalas who don’t consume water because they get enough in their diet of eucalyptus leaves.

That and I think that in some circles, the “water bottle” is something of a virtue signal. If you don’t have one, then your lifestyle isn’t as healthy as it could be.


I think it might also be what you are used to. I get thirsty in Europe, too. And it’s not because I’m not eating wet food.

I don’t usually carry a water bottle around, but i do when i vacation in Europe. I’m cheap, if i bought as much water as i want to drink, it would double or triple the cost of my meals. But i can slip into the rest room and fill my water bottle from the tap in most of Europe, and get 500ml for free.

Same, but for all travel. Buying bottled water is expensive and somewhat wasteful, and particularly so in airports and tourist destinations.

Many people do a lot more walking around when they travel than the average non-traveler. If you are a lot more active, you need to drink more water. If it’s warm out or very dry, you need even more.

Some advice on travel bags from the WSJ. Only posted this extract since it was my oldest daughter giving the advice. Link to full article is further down.

“For the last five years, the Lululemon City Adventurer has been the preferred travel companion of Sara Cooke, the Vancouver-based communications director of ToursByLocals which boasts more than 4,800 guides working in 178 countries. The multi-compartment bag is made from durable, water-repellent nylon, and features a padded pocket for a 16-inch laptop. Cooke finds the bag especially useful “when I don’t want to commit to a hard-sided suitcase, but want to bring more clothes with me that I can stuff in a daypack.” She also notes that it “has more organizational structure than you find in a typical duffle bag,” with its crescent shape, as well as both exterior and interior pockets and a luggage sleeve.”


I’m going on a 10 day trip and am considering bringing one pair of shoes, the one I’m wearing. It’s supposed to be cold and rainy for the entire trip, and the pair I’d bring is waterproof.

Do you think it’s a bad idea to only have one pair? Given the forecast, I am imagining if I packed another pair it might stay in the bag the entire time.

Do you have the option to buy another pair of shoes on the trip in a pinch? If yes, go for it.

But if it’s going to be raining, will you have to wear soggy shoes at some point? Yuck. ETA: nevermind, I didn’t see the waterproof comment before.

are you going for dinners where they wouldn’t work?

what about indoors, hotel, someone’s home?

will they be comfortable for travel?