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16 December 2022

How To Make The Most Of A Solo Train Trip

Earlier this year I embarked on a classic Canadian adventure: I took the VIA Rail train from Toronto to Vancouver. I did the journey solo and it was an amazing experience.

I wrote about my experience in depth, including my review on the food, the scenery and the atmosphere aboard the train, on a previous blog post, which you can read here.

Since we are seeing increased demand for solo train travel, I wanted to go in a little more detail about how to make the most of your Canadian train journey when travelling solo.

Here are five things to consider when planning your trip:

Prepare to be social during meals

Meals aboard the Canadian are a big deal. The chefs go out of their way to create incredible dishes for all three meals and I was truly blown away by the quality of the food.

But one thing to remember is that the dining car is set up with tables for four and the staff will seat you with other travellers during meal times. Each meal will bring new faces around the table.

Sharing a meal together was a great way to get to know other travellers from all over the world and hear their stories.

Take the free stopover

Included in every Toronto to Vancouver or Vancouver to Toronto rail ticket is a free stopover at any of the in-between stations. With some expert Landsby planning, you can get off the train for a few days and hop back on when the train comes through town again. This is such a wonderful option if you want to experience another part of Canada for a couple of days.

I chose to get off in Saskatoon, also known as Toon town, and get a taste of untouched Saskatchewan by exploring the city and its region. It was a very cool and worthwhile experience to see a new part of the country.

When we help you design your trip, ask us about stopover options. We have some great places to stay and things to do in each of the station locations (Winnipeg, Saskatoon, Edmonton, Jasper and Kamloops).

Visit the Activity Car

I really enjoyed visiting the the Activity Car daily because there was always something interesting to do. Most of the evening activities revolve around food, beer or wine tastings but the car is also stocked with games, magazine, book and, best of all, interesting people to chat with.

Upgrade to a double room if budget allows

The train offers a variety of options when it comes to sleeping. If your budget allows, I highly recommend booking a double cabin, as the single supplement is totally worth the extra spending in comparison to a single cabin. You’ll get more standing room and a private, separate sink and toilet that is easily accessible at night.

I enjoyed heading to my room during the day for a leisurely afternoon nap and squeezed in a quick workout in my cabin.

Reach out to us to discuss all the different sleeping options and we will be happy to tell you the pros and cons of each one.

Download your entertainment beforehand

One thing to remember is that, as of yet, there is no reliable wifi aboard the VIA Rail Canadian train. Sometimes we get so used to being connected all the time that we forget what it is like to not have the internet readily available! I suggest downloading any movies, shows, music and podcasts onto your device before your trip so you have it available to you when travelling.

There is a lot of downtime on the train. You’ll fill up many hours gazing at the beautiful scenery out the windows, eating the amazing food and socializing with your fellow travellers, but at some point you will find yourself in need of entertainment so think ahead to what you might best enjoy.

We look forward to helping you design your perfect solo train experience.

Related: Read a detailed customer reviews about travelling on the Canadian