Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Travel Spontaneity Becoming Scarcer

I had planned to write about the fun of spontaneous travel in North America, jumping on a bus or train to take you wherever you wished to go within a specified period of time. I used to love this in Europe, when the Eurailpass gave you the option of going anywhere in the network, usually without reservations. It made it possible to cahnge your mind at the last minute, as I once did when I discovered I would be arriving in Munich at the start of Oktoberfest, when rooms would be few and expensive.
Because I had a Eurailpass I was able to change my plan and head to Vienna instead. The unlimited travel pass still exists in Europe, but now most good trains require reservations unless you want to stand in the aisle.
In North America, Greyhound ( recently discontinued its Discover Pass, which allowed unlimited travel anywhere on its network in the U.S. during 30 days for a set price. And a North America Railpass, which used to provide similar travel on Via or Amtrak's networks, has not existed since 2008.
Via Rail ( still has a Canrail Pass for unlimited travel on any 12 days during a 30 day period on its network for $749, and a Corridor Pass for 10 dys unlimited travel within the Windsor, ON to Quebec City, QC corridor for $439.
Is it any wonder that people often prefer to travel by car? In the name, I suppose, of profitability the bus and train companies are limiting customers' choices unnecessarily and taking away some very appealing options. After all, half the fun of travel is being able to go when and where the mood takes you.


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