by Chief Global Gal Brenda McGuire

I love road trips in the summer!  There’s nothing like getting in your car and exploring your own beautiful country. But as my husband and I were making plans for our upcoming “road trip” to visit Portland, Seattle, and Vancouver, we were shocked to discover that our car rental from Portland to Vancouver, BC, was going to cost about $1500-$2000! Our flights were actually quite cheap—only around $400 each to fly from Des Moines to Portland and then out of Vancouver to Des Moines—but the car rental was another matter entirely!

I got quotes from everyone and couldn’t believe what I was seeing. Between it being the “high traffic season,” the fact that we weren’t dropping our car off in the same location, and our final destination was in another country (Canada), that might have been the reason the rental prices were so high. But like any good Global Gal, I kept my mind open to other possibilities. I decided to check out the train as an option to get us between cities and was excited to see that it would only cost us a little over $100 each—therefore saving us over $1300! Additionally, when I was planning our road trip I originally hadn’t factored in the fact that we would most likely have to pay for expensive parking in the cities we were visiting. As an example, our first hotel was going to charge $45/night for parking our car! Also, with a road trip there is the matter of gas and the “stress factor” of driving in unfamiliar cities. My husband is just happy I’m not going to be playing “back seat driver” as well! ; )

Since we won’t have a car, we’ve decided to use our foot power to explore the cities, do “hop-on, hop-off” bus tours, enjoy a day trip to Victoria Island (to see Butchart Gardens), and rent a car for a few days to explore the Oregon vineyards at a cost of only $100. With all the money we will be saving on ‘car rental’ we’re looking forward to spending some of that extra money in the beautiful Oregon vineyards, dining at some seafood restaurants, and putting money in the bank for a future trip!

I’m excited to take Amtrak between the cities and just kick back and relax and watch the beautiful scenery go by! Earlier this year, my mom and I took a 6-hour train trip to Chicago—for the first time in years—and I was delighted by how easy train travel was. I got to enjoy a glass of wine in the lounge, watch a movie, do some work on my computer and all of sudden I was in downtown Chicago. It was nice not to deal with the hassle of flying and it also saved us hundreds of dollars, too!

So, instead of doing a road trip in the summer you might want to consider a train trip to possibly save yourself money, time, and hassle—particularly if you’re going from one city to another like we are! I love taking trains around the world—whether in Europe or Australia—and I’m now giving trains a second look as I plan future trips around the US. For more info about Amtrak, check out:

P.S.  I hope you have a fantastic 4th of July weekend (for our Global Gals in the US)! I’ll be spending mine in Portland, Oregon, and will be sure to share more about it when I get back from my train trip.