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Train Travel

This week, I traveled to Seattle for the 12th Annual North American Passive House Conference. As my goal for attending was to stay updated with best practices and new techniques for reducing carbon emissions in the buildings I design, it seemed counterproductive to fly. Combined with good rates for coach class travel and my ability to work on the train just as well as at home, I fulfilled a long-time goal and took the train from St. Paul to Seattle. Here's why I loved the train trip.

The journey is beautiful.

Just check out some of the photos from the train.

The train is an enjoyable way to travel.

Train Seats
Dining Car
  • My ability to concentrate on reading was enhanced by the motion of the train

  • The seat rests in coach pop up, forming a bed, and I was actually able to sleep very well with the rhythm of the rails and the sway of the cars

  • There are outlets, but not WiFi, making for some deeply productive, distraction-free work time

  • I met some great fellow travelers, including a woman who had just completed hiking the Pacific Coast Trail over the past five months and a man who had spent the previous year traveling to thirty countries and was finally headed home to Montana

  • The dining car is not only delicious, but a great way to meet new people

  • Travel essentials: sleeping bag, sweatshirt that can be used as a pillow, books, sleeping bag, headphones, snacks

Train travel produces fewer carbon emissions.

Just for fun, I tested the carbon emissions of my train trip and compared them to what they would have been for a plane from Minneapolis to Seattle. The results are below, and you can calculate emissions for yourself at

Carbon Comparison

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