Travel Tips for the Railfan and Not So Much

Travel Tips for the Railfan and Not So Much

By Giles Kennedy
Editor in Chief/Founder
The Ohio Railroader

Even though summer is winding down; railfan and model rail travel is far from winding down.
This is usually the start of major traveling railroading show season as well as some rail attractions having major events.

Here are some basic tips to keep you rolling.

Automotive Maintenance
Be sure to have a sound running vehicle. There is nothing worse than a breakdown en route to Cass, Altoona or your favorite rail spot.

Make sure tires are in good shape, oil change and fluids are in good order. Whether it is an Olds Alero or a Dodge Ram 1500; make sure everything is in running order before venturing out. Worse case stitch; rent a car. Better be reliable than not at all.

After that is all said in done; full tanks and Gas Buddy go a long way. Better to get the best price on gas. If you have traveled to other places with reward cards…..cash those points in. It will help.

General Prep for the Trek
Condense your gear. If you are going to download pics when you get home; only take the gear you need. A basic daytrip or 2-3 day trip pack should be your camera (digital, preferred); battery charger or batteries, notepads, latest rail mags (for those slow times), shop towels or clean towels to keep photo gear clean and dry.

You might also consider doing a small (for yourself) or medium (if with family or fellow railnuts) cooler of bottled water, sodas (and/or) juices, snacks, etc. Saving you money in the long run can pay off. If you wind up near an eatery next to your favorite spot; you will actually have the cash to eat there.

Traveling with Railfans
Whether they are modelers ding prototype research or seasoned train chasers; it can be a harried experience. If you are the chief driver; allow folks on your trip to pick some of the travel music.

Whether you like Iron Maiden or not; or your gang digs bluegrass and you hate it..be an asphalt host. Change out music from time to time to be that gracious hauler. All else fails; pack extra headphones for folks to use.

Prior to your trip; have folks pitch in for gas money. Make an agreement on who pays for what prior to departure. There is nothing worse than railfans disagreeing during a trip and derail the trip entirely.
Maybe breaking down; but that would be a dead heart tie.

Traveling with Family

Some railfan wives are history buffs and come along for the ride graciously. Others not so much.

Most areas do have shopping and antique districts for the wives/better halves to explore. Planning ahead is key. If you are with wife and kids; that is a totally different ball game.

Plan ahead, plan ahead, plan ahead.

As in the cases of Spencer, N.C. and Elkins, W.Va (articles forthcoming); I planned ahead to allow Tanya (my loving and patience wife) to explore the Rail and Trail Shop and downtown Elkins prior to departure.

Same in Spencer, we actually discovered the local hobby shop as well as a mom and pop diner to eat.

So, be flexible so you and the family can enjoy time together and apart exploring.

A TripTik or similar map will go a long way!

Planning your route to and from will eliminate detours. If an AAA member; go on their TripTik section and plan your route. If not, MapQuest, Google Maps, and other resources are handy.

Okay now that is said and done….get ready for Beyond Buckeye Rails: Spencer N.C. and Mainline Tour: Elkins, W.Va.

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