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15 Things To Know Before Taking The Train Across Canada

If taking the train across Canada isn’t on your bucket list, it totally should be! Seeing the entire country, from Halifax to Vancouver, by train is an unforgettable experience like no other. You will go to sleep in one province and time zone and wake up in a completely different part of Canada. With this year being Canada’s 150th birthday as a country, there is no better time to book your train across Canada. We have put together some things you should know about a trans-Canadian journey so you are fully prepared for the epic you are about to experience!

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15 Things To Know Before Taking The Train Across Canada | Via Rail Train Trip Across Canada | What To Know About Via Rail Canada | How To See Canada By Train For Canada 150 | What To Do In Canada | Adventures In Canada By Train | Best Train Trips In Canada | How to travel across Canada By Train

15 Things To Know Before Taking The Train Across Canada

#1: Via Rail is the only company to offer cross-Canada train travel

Via Rail Canada is owned by the Canadian government and is the only company to offer train travel from one end of Canada to the other. If you are looking to travel between Halifax and Vancouver, you are going to have to book through Via Rail. Worried about only having one choice? Don’t be! Via Rail Canada has been operating for decades as the trusted name in train travel across Canada!

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#2: The entire journey will take between 5-6 days, with no stops

Depending on the time of year you decide to take the train across Canada, the whole trip will take between 5-6 days. This is because you have to be sure that the train schedules match up with your connecting train! If you are riding on “The Canadian” which runs between Toronto and Vancouver, the trip will be four straight days if you don’t get off. If you want the true transcontinental experience and start in Halifax, you will take “The Ocean” to Montreal and then take a commuter train down to Toronto. If this sounds confusing, it really isn’t and Via Rail staff are just a phone call away to help with the planning.

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#3: Winter is the best time to take the train across Canada

You may be thinking that Canada in winter is a frozen tundra, but you are overreacting! We saw temperatures that ranged from 30-35*F in the mountains and 38-55*F everywhere else. During the winter, you can book a trans-continental train journey for much cheaper than high season and will enjoy huge benefits including less people to compete with for views on the train. Just make sure you pack your winter coat and a warm sweater for the train, you will want to be cozy!

If you are planning to stopover at some cities like we did, the cities will be free from loads of tourists and much cheaper as well. Most importantly, traveling by train across Canada during the winter actually gives you the best views of any season! Since many trees have shed their leaves, you can see through them and out to the landscapes beyond! If you traveled during the summer, the trees would have their leaves and you would be stuck in a “tree corridor.” Don’t forget to pack your camera for great photos! We love the Sony a6000 for an affordable camera that anyone can easily learn to operate! 

15 Things To Know Before Taking The Train Across Canada | Via Rail Train Trip Across Canada | What To Know About Via Rail Canada | How To See Canada By Train For Canada 150 | What To Do In Canada | Adventures In Canada By Train | Best Train Trips In Canada | How to travel across Canada By Train

15 Things To Know Before Taking The Train Across Canada | Via Rail Train Trip Across Canada | What To Know About Via Rail Canada | How To See Canada By Train For Canada 150 | What To Do In Canada | Adventures In Canada By Train | Best Train Trips In Canada | How to travel across Canada By Train

#4: Delays are a very real thing…plan accordingly

Because of our booking process [we booked over the phone and the HR representative was leaving for surgery and 5 weeks of recovery the day after we booked], we did not know that Via Rail would experience serious delays during our journey. If we had known in advance and planned accordingly, the delays would have been no big deal. Since we had not, the delays had a big impact on a large part of our trip. To be fair to Via Rail, they do have disclaimers on their website that you should not book onward travel or activities the day your train arrives into your station. Delays are unlikely to happen every trip and our experience was extreme, but it is never bad to be prepared!

Our train was from Toronto to Jasper left 5.5 hours late which resulted in us arriving in Jasper 3.5 hours late [considering time change]. Our train from Jasper to Vancouver [we did a stopover] was a whopping 9 hours late which cost us an entire day of sightseeing. The moral of the story? If we had known about the possibility of delays, we would have simply added an extra day to our itinerary at each destination and would have expected delays at each stop. Then, if we arrived at a reasonable time, it would have been unexpected. If you are planning to travel across Canada on Via Rail, simply build one extra day into your itinerary at each stop and do not book any flights the day you arrive. You can keep abreast of on-time performance on Via Rail’s website. Don’t let delays keep you from taking the train across Canada, simply be prepared!

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#5: Passenger trains share the track with freight and do not have priority

The main reason for all the delays? In Canada, freight trains bring in more money than passenger trains do so they get priority on the track. The freight company also owns the train tracks so Via Rail trains must often head over to a side rail to wait while freight trains pass. Each train that passes may take up to 20-40 minutes because some freight trains can be 3 miles long! Since passenger trains are a lot shorter, they must wait on a side track until freight passes. It is pretty neat to see the giant freight trains pass your train and count how many cars make up the train.

#6: Sleeping on a train is magically relaxing

We have slept in cars, on planes, and on cruise ships, but sleeping on a train was something special. The sound of the cars traveling over metal tracks coupled with the relaxing movement of the train rocked us to sleep in under five minutes each night. The motion was perfect enough to feel completely relaxed without feeling anxious about constant movement. For an even more restful night, don’t forget to bring your sleep mask and earplugs for maximum comfort! Traveling by train across Canada made for some super restful nights!

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#7: Not stepping foot outside the train for days on end is not a problem

You can get off the train at pretty much every stop if you want so not getting off for three straight days is totally on us! We are homebodies and it was winter so we didn’t mind hanging out on the train for over 72 hours. We got plenty of exercise trekking between all the cars multiple times a day [these things can be long!] and loved being cozy inside at all the stops our train across Canada made!

#8: Only some trains have Wifi

“The Atlantic” and the corridor train that connects Montreal to Toronto both come equipped with Wifi in certain cars, but “The Canadian” [the longest train you will be on] does not. The connection on our trains from Halifax and Montreal were great and it was nice to have access to the outside world. It would have been nice to have the option for Wifi on “The Canadian” but you won’t die without it and it’s a great way to detox digitally. If you plan to take the train across Canada, pack or download some books in case you want to read them!

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#9: You will find plenty to do and will rarely be bored

In our entire 6 days of traveling by train across Canada, we can safely say that we were not bored one single time. The whole beauty of trans-Canadian train travel is getting to stare out the window and watch the world go by. We are an introvert/extrovert couple and the experience was delightful to both of us. Via Rail Canada has activities onboard such as wine and beer tasting, live music, discussions about what is going on outside and more. There are also magazines and books and a constant supply of coffee, tea, and snacks. We also downloaded movies and watched them at night while relaxing on our bed.

#10: Train food is actually very delicious

If you book a “sleeper plus” class ticket on “The Canadian” and “The Atlantic”, you will have access to three very yummy meals a day in the dining car. For each meal, you are offered a soup or salad starter, a choice between a variety of entrees, and a choice of dessert. We were thrilled that there was a vegetarian entree offered with each and every meal for Victoria.

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The food you will eat during your cross-country train trip is high quality and home cooked by Via Rail chefs in the kitchen. They have the ability to make minor substitutions since everything is cooked right in the dining car. During one of our delays, the only vegetarian food left on the train was a salad, so the chef cooked Victoria a delicious grilled cheese with soup and salad. We were really impressed by the flexibility and range of food offered on a train across Canada!

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#11: You can choose accommodations based on your budget

With a little saving, everyone should take the opportunity to take the train across Canada. Fortunately, Via Rail offers a bunch of options for each price point. If you are on an extreme budget, you can travel in economy class, but you will not receive meals and you have to sleep in your [comfy] seat. Looking for more room? You can book a “roomette” on the “Canadian” which is a cute semi-private bunk bed that lines the hallway in the sleeper car. The beds are huge and you have a curtain for privacy.

Alternatively, you can book a private cabin for one, two, or three, depending on your needs. Finally, if you are looking to go all-out, you can book the pricey Prestige Class which offers a full bed, unlimited liquor, a TV and more. Although it is expensive, prestige is already fully booked for the summer so it is quite a popular way to travel by train across Canada. We stayed in a cabin for two it was super roomy and comfortable for the journey! You can keep track of the lowest possible fares on this page! 

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A peek inside “Prestige” accommodations

15 Things To Know Before Taking The Train Across Canada | Via Rail Train Trip Across Canada | What To Know About Via Rail Canada | How To See Canada By Train For Canada 150 | What To Do In Canada | Adventures In Canada By Train | Best Train Trips In Canada | How to travel across Canada By Train

A “room for one” in daytime configuration

#12: The “Dome Car” offers the best view on the train

The “Dome Car” was our favorite part of the train and one of the best parts about traveling by train across Canada. It is equipped with very comfortable seating that elevates you above all the other train cars, giving you a 360 view of your journey. This car is by far the most popular so we suggest getting there early if you want to a good space [but don’t leave items to “save” your seat]. This car is perfect for photographers [or smartphone photographers] because you can see the entire train, what is ahead, what is above, and what is behind. These days, you can buy really affordable GoPros that make taking great videos and wide-angle photos easy for anyone! 

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#13: You will meet a ton of new people

Even if you are very introverted like Terrence, you are most likely going to meet a bunch of new people when riding the train across Canada. We met people from different parts of Canada, America, Australia, England, and Korea. Simply by virtue of sitting together and admiring the scenery, you will start to connect with or chat with others. People were intrigued by our camera which opened us to a lot of conversations.

In addition, you may not always get to sit at a private table for meals. Since the cars are so small and there are a lot of people, you may be put with other groups to dine. Other diners can tell if you are open to talking or not but some will befriend you anyway. Out of all the meals we ate with others, there were only two where we didn’t chat with our meal partners very much. By the end of our train travel across Canada, we had given away every business card save one to all our new friends!

#14: You will travel through 5 time zones and getting used to a new one is super easy

If you choose the entire transcontinental train trip, you will pass through five time zones [Atlantic, Eastern, Central, Mountain, and Pacific] from Halifax all the way to Vancouver. Some people online seem to think that traveling losing time while your train is going forward will mess with your mind. It actually won’t and this is truly the best way to cross time-zones that we have experienced.

When traveling out west, we usually have a difficult time adjusting to the time zone. During our trans-Canadian train trip, we didn’t have a problem at all and our sleep was right on target the entire time! If this is something you are worrying about or considering, don’t fret! There is something about taking the train across Canada that makes time zones a lot easier to adjust to! If you think you may still have a hard time adjusting, we suggest taking some melatonin just in case. 

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#15: You won’t want to say goodbye to the train

You just rode a train across Canada which is something not many people get to do! When it comes time to pack up your belongings and say goodbye to the train and your journey, it is going to be really hard! The experience is so unique that you will instantly begin to miss the motion, the meals, the views, your accommodations, and more. We genuinely felt a little sad everytime we had to step off our train, but especially when we arrived in Vancouver and had to leave for good. Make sure to make the most of your travel so you can remember every detail!

Is a Canadian train trip on your bucket list? Make sure to let us know if you decide to see Canada by rail! Let’s chat in the comments.

Please note: We were hosted by Via Rail for the purpose of this review. Our views are all our own and do not reflect those of Via Rail Canada. We were not paid to write this post. This post also contains affiliate links which means we may make a small comission at no cost to you if you purchase an amazon product suggested by us. 

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80 thoughts on “15 Things To Know Before Taking The Train Across Canada

      1. Todd Vince CD

        My wife and I will be taking the train car from Toronto to Vancouver summer of 2018. How far ahead should we book the trip if we want the sleeper car and meals.

        1. Mark Bartlett

          I would do it no later than early 2018 — that is a busy time of year and you will want to make sure to get the best accommodations you can.

      2. Mark Bartlett

        Everyone who travels this route MUST hear this song before they do … it so exemplifies this experience:

  1. Megan Indoe

    WOW! We have to do this! We have been wanting to travel through Canada and we have also been wanting to do an epic train ride. This combines both of those dreams. Those winter photos are incredible! Thanks for sharing, we will be doing this one day!

    1. Follow Me Away Post author

      Honestly, this is the ultimate way to see Canada! If you don’t want to do the whole trip, you can pick segments to do too! Have fun and let us know if you book 🙂

  2. Claudia

    Oh my to be honest I didnt even know this train existed in Canada but it seems like a very fun experience even as a family. Delays can always be a pain but as you said, if you are prepared you can always make the best out of the situation and learn how to work around it.

    1. Follow Me Away Post author

      Yes! There were a lot of families with small children on the train too and the kids LOVED it! Yep, making the best of the situation is easy when you are a little prepared 🙂

  3. Brooke

    Love that there are options for different budgets! The food looks tasty and the view look absolutely surreal!! Thanks for sharing this awesome adventure guys!!

  4. Geezer Mike

    Would the scenery be as good going from the west to east? Looks like a super get a way.

    Y’all are living a dream, enjoy it while your young then do it again when you get old. Blessings to ya.

    1. Follow Me Away Post author

      Yes!!! The scenery is just as great going the other way! Via Rail makes sure to go through the prettiest areas in the daylight 🙂

  5. Pete

    Wow!

    I had no idea that Canada had such an awesome way to experience their country from coast to coast. It looks like the winter is a great time to travel the train, and enjoy that great country.

    Thanks for the info!

    Pete

  6. Samantha Elisabeth

    This looks amazing! I still find train travel to be a little romantic, especially with the thought of riding through landscape after landscape of winter wonderlands. I’m hoping to see more of Canada this year, and it’d be perfect to go from Toronto to Vancouver, where I have friends in each city. Definitely bookmarking for future use.

    Also you guys are too cute!

  7. Emmalene

    This is a great post! Just planning our Canada trip to celebrate a “big” birthday later on in the year and a train journey is definitely on the cards, even if just between Vancouver and Jasper. Bookmarking for future reference!

    1. Follow Me Away Post author

      Yes! That is the great thing about Via Rail….you can choose how long/short you want to travel!

  8. Rick Harvey

    We traveled up from NZ to cross Canada by Via Rail train from Vancouver to Halifax in 2014. it was the most awesome trip imaginable! We overnighted in Toronto to go and see the Cirque du Soleil production of Kurios, then carried on to Halifax where we stayed a week. It was the most awesom trip 🙂

  9. Terry

    You quoted the train “the Atlantic” between Halifax & Montreal under #2. The train is referred to as “The Ocean” & not “The Atlantic”. Also you mention the portion between Montreal & Toronto is a “Commuter Train”. It’s not a Commuter train it’s rather VIA’s Corridor service. Also the bunks you mentioned in the hallway with a curtain they are refereed to as “Upper” & “Lower” berths.

  10. Carolyn

    My mother and I took the Canadian a few years ago when there was a super deal. She was a senior so got an even better deal. One tip is to consider travelling from Vancouver to Toronto instead of the other direction. It doesn’t fill up as quickly so we were able to get the dates we wanted. We opted for a couple of stop overs (no extra charge) so stayed in Edmonton and Winnipeg until the next train came in a few days.

    The food is wonderful and so are the views. This was on my bucket list but went right back on it after the trip. I want to go in every season.

  11. Michel Boudreau

    Should a super great expérirence. But there a few error in the articles.

    1. The Atlantic is discontinued since the 90. I I beleive you met The Ocean wish is still in service 3 time per week.

    2. You dont take a commuter from Montréal to Toronto. Commuter train only run into the communauty around major city and not run by Via rail. You want to take a Via rail intercity train wish do run Montréal Toronto.

    3. It is true that you want to plan you trip carefully, The Ocean dont arrive in Montréal in a good enouff time to transfer to the intercity train to catch the Canadian on that same day wish the canadian run 2 time peer week. The only way to make it is to Leave Halifax a Friday. arrive in montréal on saturday 45min waiting time for the departure of the Toronto train arriving same day you must wait 6 hours for the Canadian departure

    4. Once again the Atlantic is not in service for many. It the Ocean that have the Wifi.

    All of this because the Ocean was cut 6 to 3 time per week. and the Canadian off peck season was cut 3 to 2 time per week. And are Government are not investing enouff for a better Passager rail system into are country.

    Dont take me wrong I love the train and would love to find time and budget to travel from my town to Vancouver one day.

    But people in Canada should complaint to there MP to get are Government investing back into Via rail for new modern equipement and restore many service that was cut. Like the Super Continental at one time the Canadian was on CP rail and the Super continental on Cn rail. imagine taking one to go to Vancouvert and the other to come Back. Imagine arriving in Montreal and Toronto and you dont have to wait hour or day for the Vancouver connnection.

    To all are MP and PM Trudeau please make Via rail create again

    1. Follow Me Away Post author

      Yes!! Thank you for your feedback! And we would love to see the MP and PM invest in Via Rail again too 🙂

  12. Sue

    My hubby and I did the trip on The Canadian last May. When I read out your article he accused me of writing it – we completely agree with your summary. Only thing you didn’t comment on are the fabulous staff. We can’t wait to do it again – and yes, in winter next time!

      1. Steve

        Clista:

        We stayed in Prestige Class. It was a wonderfully comfortable queen size bed with Italian bed linens, down duvet, and lots of down pillows. However, the way the bed is made up, one person is on the “inside” against the cabin wall and the other is on the “aisle” side. Means the inside person has to climb over or around the other to get up in the middle of the night. But, on balance, we’d do Prestige Class again in a heartbeat. FYI, in regular sleeper class, the beds are singles.

  13. Doug Corrigan

    FYI, the Halifax – Montreal train is called “The Ocean”, not the Atlantic.

    The Atlantic was a different train route that was discontinued well over 25 years ago.

  14. Keith Osmond

    As I have a pass, I frequently travel in the econo version of the journey between Winnipeg and Vancouver. Why not? It’s free you say. Well….l have stopped doing this for many reasons, the main one being how uncomfortable it is for me (6ft high) and the extreme delays. I have been delayed over 20 hours. The toilets stop working frequently, and the equpipment, which is circa 1950, is starting to show its age. West jet works for me.

  15. Tanya Bartram

    Not long now for us. We are traveling from jasper to Toronto super excited. We have a cabin as we do like some private time. This is our present to us for 25 years of marriage.

  16. Michael Alexander

    I’ve wanted to ride the Canadian for 10 years but seeing as how I’m on a fixed income I couldn’t afford it but now that I have a reloadable gift card I can keep adding and adding money to it until I have enough to go to the west coast I’m thinking of going to Edmonton for a leafs vs oilers game I’m picking there cause my cousin lives in Calgary but the train doesn’t go there so I’ll have to give him my arrival and departure times so we can spend time with each other once I get enough on my card I’ll save my money and buy the tickets the following hockey season!

  17. Karen Harvey

    I have been fortunate to have travelled from Vancouver during winter to Kingston and West in mid-spring. The lower berth I had going East was perfect. Going West my only complaint was the shower wall was right across from me so no view across from me. My most recent train trip to Jasper and back was in Economy – definitely off season, less expensive and fewer people. However, the 12 hour delay was ridiculous. We did get some free meals – often there is not room in the dining car for Economy class to buy a meal – although by the last supper the choice was sparse. I think everyone should travel on Via at least once. I am already planning my next trip.

    1. Follow Me Away Post author

      Delays are never fun but we are glad it all worked out and you are already planning your next trip!

  18. Julia

    The train from Halifax to Montreal is actually called “The Ocean” and started service in 1904.

    Yes, it’s a perfect trip. Look for sales! It’s more affordable that way!

  19. AJ

    The train DOES stop, and you can get off and stretch your legs, although not for very long. There are longer stops at Winnipeg, Edmonton and Jasper, depending on the train’s on-time performance.

  20. Tom Box

    You have a lot of good information here. I agree with about 90% of what you say. But you have a few factual errors and some debatable opinions. I hope you won’t take it amiss if I focus on those things.

    #1. I agree.

    #2. The Atlantic was a Halifax-Montreal train that ran via Saint John and Sherbrooke. It was cancelled in 1994. The remaining Halifax-Montreal train, on a different route via Campbellton and Ste-Foy, is called the Ocean.

    #3. Winter travel has its advantages, but the days are very short. In December in Edmonton, the sun is above the horizon for less than 8 hours, so much of your trip will be in darkness. So you need to weigh the pluses and minuses for when to travel.

    #4. You’re right that you need to expect delays. But you say “If you are planning to travel across Canada on Via Rail, simply build one extra day into your itinerary at each stop…” Unfortunately, that’s not possible, since both the Ocean and the Canadian only run 2 or 3 days a week, and you have to work around that schedule.

    #5. I could nitpick about some of the technical details, but this is basically correct, and important to keep in mind.

    #6. I’m glad you slept well, but not everybody reacts the same way. I love long-distance train travel, and I’ve spent over 200 nights on trains, but I usually don’t sleep very well. For me, the nighttime part of the trip is just something to be endured for the pleasure of the daytime part. I find that earplugs are a big help for sleeping, as the cars usually have something that creaks and rattles.

    #7. You’re kidding yourself if you think walking between cars on the train is good exercise. The Canadian makes a 20-30 min stop for servicing about three times a day, and I find that a brisk walk up and down the station platform during those stops is very helpful. There are longer stops in Winnipeg and Jasper, where you may have time to explore the town a little (or maybe not, if the train is running late).

    #8. Sometimes the wifi works well on the Ocean and corridor trains, sometimes not. Don’t count on it being available.

    #9. Totally agree.

    #10. I agree, the food is generally excellent. Only the Canadian has an on-board chef. The Ocean does not, so variations from the usual menu with no advance notice may not be possible. If you have special dietary needs, you should contact VIA in advance of your trip so see if they can accommodate you.

    #11. A roomette is the former name for what is now called a cabin for one. The “cute semi-private bunk bed” that you describe was formerly called an open section. VIA now just calls them upper and lower berths.

    #12. I agree that the dome cars are great. Readers should be aware that the Ocean has only one dome car, only open to sleeping car passengers, not coach (economy) passengers. The Canadian has at least two domes, one of them open to all, including coach passengers.

    #13-15. Totally agree.

    1. Follow Me Away Post author

      Hey Tom! Thanks so much for your response! We had been meaning to change it to “The Ocean” but were on another trip with no wifi 😉 Very good comments and love how you commented on each point. Interesting to hear you dont sleep as well…we love white noise for sleeping so creaking isn’t a problem!

    1. Follow Me Away Post author

      You can book on Via Rail’s website or by calling them! We linked to their site many times in our post so just click on one of the links to find it 🙂

  21. Kira Tippenhauer

    Hi Victoria and Terrence!

    Thank you so much for sharing your experience with us all! I’ve been on the fence between doing a trip via train across the US with Amtrak vs. doing it across Canada with Via Rail. Have you done a trip like this one in the US by any chance (perhaps from D.C. to LA)? If not, do you know anybody who have done the two and would be kind enough to share their thoughts?

    You also mentioned that “People were intrigued by your camera…” What camera did you use for these stunning photographs!? I hope you don’t mind sharing.

    I’ve always said I’d do this trip “when I grow up” and you made me realize that hey, why not now? And if not now, then when? So glad I stumbled upon your post and thank you for inspiring me! Sending all the good vibes you way…

    xoK

  22. Kira Tippenhauer

    Thank you so much for sharing your experience with us all! I’ve been on the fence between doing a trip via train across the US with Amtrak vs. doing it across Canada with Via Rail. Have you done a trip like this one in the US by any chance (perhaps from D.C. to LA)? If not, do you know anybody who have done the two and would be kind enough to share their thoughts?

    You also mentioned that “People were intrigued by your camera…” What camera did you use for the photos on this post? Those are some beautiful pictures! I hope you don’t mind sharing.

    I’ve always said I’d do this trip “when I grow up” and you made me realize that hey, why not now? And if not now, then when? So glad I stumbled upon your post and thank you for inspiring me! Sending all the good vibes you way.

    1. Follow Me Away Post author

      Hi Kira!

      Thanks so much for your response! There is no time like the present to travel North America by train! We know folks who have done Amtrack but it certainly isn’t the same thing as Via Rail. If you are looking for economy, they are both similar. If you are looking for an actual place to lay down, Via rail is the way to go. They even offer budget options that are more expensive than economy but cheaper than a larger room where you have a private bunk to sleep in and still get to eat in the amazing dining car. Amtrack only offers seats. We use a Sony A99 camera for our photos and smartphones too 😀

      1. CiCi Murphy

        We are experienced Amtrak travelers, and you are wrong about “Amtrak only offers seats”.

        https://www.amtrak.com/onboard-the-train-sleeping-accommodations

        We have always booked the bedroom as my husband is 6’6″ and the roomettes are too small. We are considering our first via-rail trip. Do any of the sleepers have a private bath as the bedrooms on Amtrak? Is there anywhere on the ViaRail website that explains what the sleeping accommodations are like? I’ve looked at some of the information and can’t seem to find it. Also, one other post mentioned that you can get off at intermediate stops with no increase in price. Is that true? We have traveled all the major long distance Amtrak routes and would recommend the Zephyr, which is the Chicago, IL to San Francisco, CA route. It goes through the Rockies and is gorgeous.

        1. Mark Bartlett

          CiCi,

          Yes it is true. There might be some seasonal restrictions i.e., perhaps in the busier times (summer/fall) … just give them a call and ask. I think there is a restriction around how long the stopover can be, but I believe it was quite a bit of time (1-2 weeks). Most who were doing it got off the train for a few days in Jasper.

          The sleeping accommodations range from 1) seats to 2) berths with curtains to 3) private rooms with 2 bunk beds and a private toilet to 4) the Prestige car. If you buy the private room or the prestige, all the meals are included.

          Hope that helps.

        2. Follow Me Away Post author

          Hello Cici!

          First off, thanks for the correction regarding Amtrack! We did not know! Second, here is the link to the accommodations on Via Rail http://www.viarail.ca/en/explore-our-destinations/trains/rockies-and-pacific/toronto-vancouver-canadian/classes-and-services as Mark said above! Yes, you are able to stopover, but again, as Mark said, it is always a good idea to give them a ring if you want to stopover for a long time. We loved stopping over in Jasper and highly recommend it!

    2. Rick Harvey

      We did Amtrak from New York overnight to Chicago; then Chicagoe down to new Orleans. AMtrak was great – but no where near as good as our Via Rail Experience

  23. Nisha Jha

    This is a treasure trove of information on Canadian Railway. I am hooked already. It is quite good to note vegetarian dish being served on the train. On the whole this is worth a try at least once.

  24. Kendall Carter

    We just traveled the Canadian Toronto to Vancouver. It is the best experience ever. We loved every bit of it. The scenery was stunning food was first class and we made lots of new friends from all over the world. This must be on everybody’s bucket list.

  25. Sharon MacLeod

    I’m so glad I came across this article. My husband and I are going on the Canadian from Toronto to Vancouver in less than 3 weeks. We cannot wait, and your article has really whet our appetite even more! We are going onto Saskatoon a couple of days after arriving in Vancouver so it really will be a trip of a lifetime. (It’s actually a late honeymoon trip, we got married in March this year).

    1. Follow Me Away Post author

      First of all, congrats on married life! Second of all, this trip is the perfect thing for a honeymoon! The little train cars are so romantic and you are just going to love it!

  26. Mark Bartlett

    Hi

    We had the pleasure of being on the same trip as Victoria and Terrence at the same time — I can assure you their account is very good. Had many lovely conversations with them and enjoyed their company. One thing I am not sure they mentioned is, you can arrange to disembark at certain locations, stay a few days and resume your trip on the next passing train with no extra charge. Something I wish would have known. Many got off at Jasper and stayed there for 3 days and them picked up the next train.

    It was a pleasure meeting you Terrence and Victoria — good that you are making your lives an adventure!

    1. Follow Me Away Post author

      Hi Mark!! Thankk you so much for commenting! Good to hear from you! We kind of touched on that in another article but not as much as we should! Hope all is well with you!

  27. April

    Definitely on my list of things to do. I love travel by train. I’ve been across the whole US on Amtrak, and would do it again in a heart beat, even though it’s usually 8 hours late getting to California. I can only imagine how much more beautiful it would be to go sea to sea in Canada. I expect delays in train travel. I’m envious of you folks who have already made the trip.

  28. Jasmine

    Hi there, your blog is fantastic and extremely helpful. My husband and I are looking at doing the train ride in October.
    I was just hoping you could clarify something for us as we are having difficulty finding the answer on the ViaRail website – if you purchase the Canadian from Toronto to Vancouver, do you have the option of getting off at each stop for an extended period of time, say 1-2 nights, and then pick the train back up?
    Any assistance is much appreciated and thanks again for the fantastic blog.

    1. Follow Me Away Post author

      Hello Jasmine! Congrats on deciding to do the train! We would suggest calling Via Rail! They are very helpful and will be able to answer evey question you have! Yes, you are able to get off at each stop for a longer period of time, but it all depends on when the next train comes! We had to wait 3 days for the next train from Jasper, but that was winter so the October schedule may be different! Just call Via Rail for the best assistance! Good luck and have fun!

  29. Sujatha

    Thanks for the great post. We are excited to take the trip next week on The Canadian. Couple of questions. We are all vegetarian. Do we have to let them know our food preference days in advance? Is there no WiFi on this train at all? I couldn’t figure it out from their website. My kids won’t be happy without WiFi. Thanks in advance.

    1. Follow Me Away Post author

      Nope! No wifi at all 🙁 Sometimes you can get a bit of phone service when passing towns but there is no Wifi. We feel like this is something Via Rail needs to consider upgrading on as a lot of guests find wifi very important. There is a vegetarian option included on the menu for each and every meal which is amazing! You don’t have to call ahead at all and the meals were quite delicious!

  30. Diane Shank

    Making this trip in November 18, 2017. We are so looking forward to it.
    It will be our first train trip for both of us.

  31. ReadandShare

    Great article and helpful comments! May I ask a “practical” question? For those of you who have taken Via, what’s the ‘customary range’ for tipping – the room attendant? And the restaurant server? Assume typically pleasant service. Thanks.

  32. My Global Attitude

    Brilliant article ! I’m moving to Toronto this winter and plan to take this train during Spring. Do you perhaps think Spring is any good, with all the rain?

    Can’t be more excited 🙂

    Carolina | Myglobalattitude.com

    1. Follow Me Away Post author

      Hey Carolina! We loved toronto and think the train would be just amazing in the spring! Even if it rained a little it is so magical to get to ride the train through the rain…very romantic! Have so much fun and good luck!

  33. Mary

    We are going in winter 2018 for a month. Am so glad I stumbled upon this page. Just what we wanted to do. Get on and off the train and stay for a night or two in a hotel and do some sightseeing. Could you please tell me the stops so I can do some research on what to do in every stop. We will start in Toronto and last stop will be Vancouver to ski. Thank you so much.

    1. Mark Bartlett

      Hi Mary — the best thing to do is to contact VIA and let them know when you are going so they can confirm where you will be able to get off for a visit. I imagine it changes with the time of year. In March when we went you could get off at Winnipeg and Jasper. The train will likely leave late from Toronto because the freight trains have priority over VIA and they can be sitting on a spur for a while as the freights go by … so keep that in mind. Our train was 6 hours late leaving. If you are connecting in Vancouver, leave a full 24 hours for the connections. We had a great time and met lots of wonderful people from all corners of the planet – literally!

  34. Rhonda Taylor

    Thanks for sharing this information. It was very helpful. I still have a couple of questions, though.

    My husband smokes and I didn’t see any information on the train’s smoking policies. Is there designated smoking areas available, smoking bedrooms, etc?

    Is it possible to make the trip a round trip experience or do you need to arrange other transportation back to where you started?

    1. Follow Me Away Post author

      Hello Rhonda! There is no smoking at all onboard the train. That being said, your husband will be able to step outside during the train stops to take a smoke break. This is what the staff did during our trip and it is open to passengers too. You can certainly take the train round trip if you want to but the fare will just be more expensive than if you took it one way!

      1. Ron

        Victoria and Terrence,
        Excelente!
        Have you considered doing the Trans Siberian Railway from St. Petersburg to Beijing? You guys do an amazing job so I would be
        very interested in seeing that post. Thanks

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