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I'm a millennial who spent 4 days traveling across Canada on a train with no WiFi and little cell service, and I wasn't bored for a single minute

dome car via rail
There were plenty of people to talk to and plenty of sights to see.
  • I spent four days traveling across Canada by train with no WiFi and limited cell service. 
  • I downloaded TV shows and bought a new book in anticipation of ample internet-less downtime. 
  • But the beautiful scenery, friendly co-travelers, and daily wine and beer tastings kept me busy.
While planning for my four-day train trip across Canada on VIA Rail's The Canadian, I thought a lot about how I would pass the time on board.
via rail 1 the canadian
I knew the scenery would be beautiful to look at, but I wasn't sure what else I'd be doing.

In October 2019, I boarded a VIA Rail train in Toronto headed for Vancouver. The Canadian promised a scenic ride through the Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, and British Columbia provinces over the course of four days. We made seven stops along the way at stations throughout the provinces. 

In doing my research, I saw that there would be no WiFi on board, so I was worried about how I'd fill the days.
via rail the canadian
I was looking forward to unplugging for a few days.

The site also says there's limited cell service, which means my data plan was basically useless and my phone was only good for taking photos.

So I did the prep work and downloaded a playlist off of Spotify and a few television episodes off of Netflix before boarding.
via rail the canadian
I can listen to Ed Sheeran collaborations on an endless loop.

I wanted to make sure I had something to watch before falling asleep and for when I got bored during the long stretches of the trip. 

I also bought myself a new book to read.
book via rail the canadian
I was excited to sink my teeth into this collection of writing.

I thought I'd have plenty of reading time, but I never even cracked the book open. 

I imagined I'd spend a lot of the time in my cabin reading, working, or staring out my window, but I wound up spending almost no time in the room at all.
feet via rail
My cabin was spacious and had comfortable seating.

My cabin was in the Sleeper Plus section of the train (a subsect of business class), which meant I had a private room with two comfortable seats that folded down at night to make room for the bed. 

These tickets can cost up to $6,000 depending on the time of year you travel. The Sleeper Plus ticket I had included all onboard meals. 

I ended up spending most of my time hanging out with my fellow travelers in the upper deck of the Skyline Car — the main community car for passengers.
gathering skyline via rail
I would have missed out on making great connections with people if I stayed in my cabin.

This trip was much more social than I had anticipated. When we first pulled out of Toronto, everyone gathered on the upper deck of the Skyline car, where the roof is mostly windows.

It was there that I met the other passengers who were in business class, and it became the spot where we all gathered again and again throughout the trip.

The Skyline Car is a great place to be if you want photos of the scenery.
12 lakeside homes and communities the canadian
The ceiling was a dome made of large windows.

The windows made it easy to appreciate all the nature we were riding through. If you're traveling with the hopes of getting some good photos, this is the place to be. 

It's also great if you're interested in making friends on your journey.
via rail the canadian tasting
The Skyline Car is where I met everyone.

Instead of sitting in your personal cabin or in your reserved seats, you can mingle and enjoy the view with others. 

Everyone I met was friendly and wanted to get to know each other.
randy and martin via rail
Martin (left) and Randy (right) met on the train.

We swapped travel stories and had conversations about where we were all from.

I also picked up some photography tips from other passengers who were more knowledgeable than I was.

I also filled some time by exploring the train.
hall walking via rail
This portion of the business class car transformed into bunk bed-style sleeping arrangements at night.

I started at the front and walked all the way back, snapping photos along the way.

I walked from my business class car near the back of the train up to economy class in the front to start this little exploration journey.
economy via rail
Seats in economy class reclined and had footrests.

My cabin was near the back, but it wasn't the last car on the train — that was for Prestige first-class passengers. 

I ended in the first-class car in the rear.
via rail the canadian first class
The high-top seating in the first-class car.

This car had a full-service bar and high-top seating, which I didn't have access to in my Sleeper Plus cabin. 

There were plenty of onboard activities to keep me busy as well.
via rail the canadian music
Andy Du Rego performing in our Skyline car.

Andy Du Rego performed as the resident musician on our trip, which meant that he would travel between Skyline cars throughout the day and play music for passengers. 

Every day there was either a local beer or wine tasting in the Skyline car.
via rail the canadian wine tasting
A wine tasting onboard.

VIA Rail employees led the tastings, which highlighted local beer and wine selections from the regions we passed through on the train. 

There were also daily games and information sessions about the different areas we passed through along the route.
via rail the canadian
We played a game of trivia!

We got together in the upper deck of the Skyline car to play a trivia game as well as to learn about which area and geographic landscape we were coming up on next.  

In the end, I realized that as long as travelers are open to meeting new people, it would be hard to get bored on The Canadian.
carina huw via rail the canadian
Carina (left) and Huw (right) swapped travel stories in the Skyline Car.

Between participating in all the onboard activities, exploring the train, and chatting with my new friends, I barely made it through my Spotify playlist and I never opened my book.

At the end of the trip, it felt like the time flew by, and I realized I didn't miss the mindless scrolling after all.

I was shocked that in the 96 hours I spent on that train, I wasn't bored for even a minute.  

Read the original article on Insider








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