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Summary:

My recent cross-country train trip was a lot of fun. I got to see family and some old friends, and came back relaxed, which is hard to do when flying these days. Here are some suggestions for a good vacation.

My recent cross-country train trip was a lot of fun. I got to see family and some old friends, and came back relaxed, which is hard to do when flying these days.

The experience on a long-distance train is very different than that of “corridor” trains like the Acelas in the northeast and the Cascades Talgo trains in the northwest. I enjoyed watching the countryside go by and chatting with my fellow passengers. So much so, in fact, that I didn’t do any of the writing I had planned, or even crack open a book.

The technical planning I wrote about in my earlier post went as I had expected. I was able to check my email and keep up with Twitter, Facebook and RSS feeds on my iPod touch connected to a Sprint Overdrive hotspot. Amtrak does offer Wi-Fi on the Acela trains, and the service has been so popular that it will be expanded to other areas soon.

Connectivity was limited in some of the Great Plains, but I was a bit surprised at the poor connections in parts of New England. A colleague had a similar problem at a major resort in Florida using another carrier, so I can’t blame either Sprint or the specific equipment I was using.

Nevertheless, I was able to download what I needed while the train was stopped in places like Whitefish, Montana, after which I could read and respond to messages offline.

My colleagues have written a lot about how to take vacations, so I’ll just add a couple of suggestions of my own:

  • Don’t plan to work any more than you absolutely have to.
  • Decide how connected you really want or need to be while you’re away.
  • Give yourself some planning time before the vacation, and decompression time afterward.
  • Tell your clients in advance that you’ll be away. Most will be understanding.

Have a great summer, and bon voyage!

How will you take time off this year?
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