The summer travel season is right around the corner and with the price of gasoline climbing to unprecedented rates, many travelers are turning to travel by train across the U.S. as an affordable, relaxing alternative to travel by car or plane.

“When you consider today’s average gas prices, the cost of a rail ticket on one of Amtrak’s long-distance trains is significantly less than keeping the car fueled,” explained Todd Powell, president of Chicago-based specialty travel company Vacations By Rail.

It’s also more relaxing. Train passengers don’t need to be concerned with navigation or travel interruptions for meals and rest stops. “Train travel is care-free, entertaining, and a big part of the vacation experience,” Powell said. “There are onboard activities to suit every traveler’s needs: lounge cars offering panoramic views, delicious meals in the dining car, and quiet nooks and crannies to curl up with a good book. It’s also a great way to meet people from around the country all taking part in the same exciting experience.”

Average gas prices in the Chicagoland area—home to Union Station, Amtrak’s hub for long-distance trains—are currently topping $4.35 per gallon and showing few signs of slowing. The city is not alone with metropolitan areas across the country preparing for gas prices to reach upwards of $5 per gallon by the time the summer travel season arrives.

Compare that to train tickets between popular city pairs and the savings are evident.*

Photo: Illinois Central Railroad