Book Review – All Aboard: The Complete North American Train Travel Guide by Jim Loomis

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After reading All Aboard, All Aboard: The Complete North American Train Travel Guide, I realized I may be classified as a junior “foamer” in the most loving sense of the word. I have often thought that I was born in the wrong era as I am an avid train utilizer and silent film junkie. When I picked up this book, the fourth edition, I thought, yawn, this is going to be like a textbook, bland and dry. What a rude awakening! Jim Loomis offers his personal opinions, shares his experiences, and provides comprehensive knowledge about train travel. After reading this book, it is easy to convince one that traveling by train is sleek, and enjoyable as it passes through the most beautiful lands and is the easiest mode of transportation.

This book could easily be read from beginning to end or with random chapters in between. I read it cover to cover and was entertained by each page. I even read the appendix which includes railroad terms and slang such as hell on wheels and gandy dancer. Personally, I would not skip any chapters and could not think of a more fitting title for the book. Minimal information is repeated, which makes jumping and choosing chapters a breeze as all the material needed for the specific travel is included in each area.
The history of trains enlightens with surprising facts and how to read timetables is straightforward. It moves into convincing one they are capable of planning their own trip and if one is still not comfortable, suggests utilizing a travel agency, perhaps one that was listed as knowledgeable.

This guide lists the numerous amenities awaiting travelers on board, notes that long-distance trains are, sadly, usually delayed and the causes as to why they are set back. There are suggestions as to which side to position one nest on the train for optimum views on specific routes and conversational tools to use should an unpleasant situation arrive. The hierarchy of the staff on a train is noted and trackside signs are shown and explained. Even the physics of how a train is in motion is shared.

It is truly an all-inclusive North American guide as Via Rail in Canada and Copper Canyon in Mexico are explained with helpful hints. A David Letterman-esque Top Ten railroad stations list bestows reasons why they made the lineup- such as close accommodations, local noshing eateries, or nearby activities. Finally, a book about USA travel, especially train travel, would not be complete without discussions of political stances and their impact economically and environmentally on the rails.
I would unequivocally recommend this for anyone who has ever expressed an inkling of desire for a train adventure. I can think of a train aficionado and a rookie train traveler personally who would benefit from the resources this book provides. I dog-eared many pages for my own use and have begun plotting my next adventure. Pick up this book, learn the tricks, and wave to the train aficionados as you chug through the countryside.


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Jill Otradovec

by Jill Otradovec

Jill thrives on travel has been fortunate to be a road tripper and train traveler. She’s visited all 48 contiguous U.S. States with the impressive assistance of sofas and floors belonging to friends and family and a fantastic mechanic. Though her current passport has one stamp and a pathetic layer of dust, she is a card holder of the Smithsonian Institution and National Park Service (which have been used this year).

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