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Epic Train Trips To Take Around The Globe

As far as methods of travel are concerned, none are more romanticized as train travel.  In our opinion, it’s well deserved.  Trains ride smoothly along the rails, passing through neighbourhoods, bucolic countryside, and gritty industrial areas, punctuating the air as they pass through all of these places with the soulful moan of the locomotive’s whistle.  Throughout most of the world’s continents, there are strips of steel that can take you to and through some truly epic places.  Today on the Lost Backpack, we will highlight some of the journeys that you should endeavor to take in in your lifetime, as they will allow you a deep insight into the soul of all of the nations that these routes cross.

1) Trans-Mongolian, from Moscow, Russia to Beijing, China – This rail journey is the mother of all others, spanning an equivalent of one fifth the circumference of the Earth in length.  Start in Moscow, Russia, after having gotten in your obligatory shots of Red Square in, and after you have purchased an authentic bottle of Russian Vodka for the long (long, lonnnnnggg…) trip ahead of you.  This truly epic route will take through the Ural Mountains, containing some of Europe’s highest peaks, which will begin your long trek across Siberia.  After 3 days of venturing across the seemingly endless expanse of coniferous trees and muskeg, you’ll skirt the shores of the world’s largest freshwater lake, Lake Baikal.  This lake contains 1/5 of the world’s fresh water, just to give you an idea of its size.  Shortly after this, the line wanders down into the sublimely beautiful steppes of Mongolia, before passing by the Great Wall of China on its way to Beijing.  Celebrate the end of your epic rail adventure with some authentic Chinese food and an ice cold Tsingtao!

2) California Zephyr, from Chicago, Illinois to San Francisco, California, USA – Follow the route that many pioneers of the American West took many years ago, and let the California Zephyr carry you along that route.  Start amongst the lush farmland of the Midwest, and transition to the Great Plains and then the deserts and canyons of the Southwest.  Finally, cross the gorgeous Sierra Nevada mountain range, while helping yourself to some American apple pie in the dining car, listening to “California Dreamin’” on your iPod.

3) The Canadian, From Toronto, Ontario, to Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada – This long distance train journey across the 2nd largest nation in the world will take you across the vast expanses of the Canadian Shield (mostly exposed granite hills, dotted with rivers and lakes), the fertile Canadian Prairies, and the world famous Canadian Rockies, before dropping you off at Canada’s hippest and most modern city, Vancouver.  Enjoy the multicultural delights of Toronto before boarding the train, then after a restful night’s sleep, contemplate life as you pass through the infinite wheat fields of the Prairie provinces.  Get off at Jasper to enjoy the Rocky Mountain trails and wildlife up close, then resume your journey through the legendary beauty of B.C.   Finish your trip in Vancouver, where some of the best street/inexpensive restaurant food in Canada exists, and mix in outdoor activities such as skiing, hiking or kayaking with urban ones such as shopping, dining and enjoying the nightlife on Granville Street downtown.

Of all the ways you can travel the world, doing it by rail is by far the most humane.  Lacking the start-stop nature of the bus, and the turbulence, dry air and lack of sights of air travel, rail is a mode of transport that you should experience sooner rather than later.