Why This Travel Agent Recommends a Train Ride for Your Next Vacation
Image provided by Rocky Mountaineer
It is easy to get lost in this age of do-it-yourself travel arrangements. When we’re lucky, the perseverance of working through online travel sites pays off with a magical bargain adventure. Other times, we spend hours lost down rabbit holes that turn our dream vacation into pure frustration.
Enter Candace Dupps. At age 25, she is one of America’s top 30 under 30 travel agents. “People don’t realize there are still travel advisors, but we are still here. People don’t realize how much we can help.” Candace says there are many benefits to hiring a travel agent such as 24-hour customer care if flights are delayed, the ability to purchase travel insurance (which she highly recommends to all travelers), and increased access to availability and add-on perks. The most helpful service, according to Candace, is that a travel advisor handles all the payments and travel documents, taking the stress out of vacation planning.
Candace takes a helicopter ride. Photo by Candace Dupps
So where does Candace, the “luxury travel advisor,” recommend you spend your next vacation?
Aboard the Rocky Mountaineer, a luxury passenger train that travels through the remote and majestic Canadian Rockies. The train snakes its way through the mountains and national parks during the day, exposing the passengers to places most eyes haven’t seen. At night, the passengers disembark and stay at hotels and inns throughout western Canada. Many packages are available that vary in length of stay, side excursion options, and modes of transportation (add a pre-train cruise or post-train coach tour to round out your trip).
A scenic view of Banff National Park located in Alberta, Canada. Photo by Rocky Mountaineer
“The views are incredible. The pictures on the brochure are not doctored — it is just as beautiful in person. You travel through a landscape that no vehicle can get to and are able to see all kinds of wildlife.”
Candace, who caught the train herself in Vancouver (boarding options include Vancouver or Seattle) says the conductors and attendants on the train are knowledgeable and engaging. Throughout the journey, they shared stories and relayed the history of the region, interrupting themselves every so often with calls of “Bears on the left!”
One of the highlights of Candace’s vacation was the black bear she spotted during the 12-hour train ride. Photo by Candace Dupps
“The train would slow, and everyone would run to the side of the train to witness a mama bear with her cubs or a moose or elk.” While the wildlife was definitely Candace’s highlight, she also loved the train itself. The train offers two levels, silver or gold leaf, and both include delicious, all-inclusive dining options for breakfast and lunch. Each day aboard the train starts with a toast of mimosas followed by a breakfast that includes items such as eggs benedict and waffles with fresh berries. Candace says the food was outstanding, and the open bar allowed her to sip on Bulleit bourbon while bear-watching. She never went hungry or thirsty on the sometimes 12-hour train ride. Between the breakfast and lunch courses a variety of snacks were also offered.
One of the many delicious meals served on the Rocky Mountaineer. Photo by Candace Dupps
While the trip seems to be geared toward an older crowd, Candace would recommend this trip to anyone. The views, the possibility for outdoor adventure, the locally sourced food and the social environment on the train ride appealed to her under-30 demographic. “It is a very social experience. You can turn your train seats to face one another. People become best friends by the end of the day’s ride. I would take this trip again and am excited to get younger people interested in this vacation.”
Candace stands in front of the Brewster tour bus. Photo provided by Candace Dupps
Whether you love outdoor adventure or would like to take a culinary tour of this remote region, the Rocky Mountaineer trip can be tailored to meet your needs. Bears, northern lights, glaciers, waterfalls, breathtaking views high atop a train trestle, high-end hotels, and gourmet dining — this might be the perfect combination for your dream vacation. And it has the travel agent’s seal of approval.
Canoeing on Maligne Lake in Jasper National Park located in Alberta, Canada. Photo by Rocky Mountaineer
- The Rocky Mountaineer tour includes travels by train and motor coach through Seattle, Vancouver, Banff, Lake Louise, Jasper, and Calgary.
- Candace recommends taking the “circle journey” option, which brings you back to your boarding destination (Seattle or Vancouver).
- The train does not travel through each city, so Candace recommends taking the self-drive option over the motor coach so that you can set your own pace and be in control of your sightseeing.
Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise in Banff National Park and located in Alberta, Canada. Photo by Candace Dupps
A helicopter ride. Photo by Candace Dupps
What to pack
- Layers. In May the iconic Lake Louise was completely frozen over. Candace said people were out walking on the blue-green lake ice in winter gear.
- Prepare for snow, even in the winter. While some towns will be sunny and 70, the higher elevations might still have snow on the ground.
- Candace says you should take a great carry on bag because while on the train and coach rides, your luggage is in the cargo container and can’t be accessed.
City of Vancouver in British Columbia, Canada. Photo by Rocky Mountaineer
What to do
- Helicopter ride between Banff and Calgary
- Stay at the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise
- Hike Jasper and Banff national parks
- Take a gondola ride up Sulfur Mountain in Banff National Park
- Take a Brewster bus over the Icefield Parkway glacier
- Hike or kayak around Lake Louise
- Visit a brewery in Jasper after viewing the northern lights in Jasper National Park
- Depending on your length of stay, silver or gold leaf option, and add-on excursions, the price varies between $5-$10,000 per person, including flight, for an 8-10 day trip.