Let’s Talk Trains!


As I am sitting here writing this my dear husband is sleeping soundly in our bedroom after making the long trip home. This is only the second time he has been home since October 2012 and I am so grateful that he got the chance to come home for the holidays this year since last year we weren’t so lucky. The last time he came home we lucked out and found cheap airfare, but this year with the it being around the holidays there were no cheap fares to be had, so we decided that he would travel home on the train. This is not the first time our family has taken the train to and from the Bakken region and overall our experience has been pretty positive.

In case you were unaware Amtrak’s Empire Builder line runs right through the heart of the Bakken region and has become very popular with oilfield workers and their families. In light of this I thought I would go over some of the pros and cons of train travel for those of you who were considering it as a new option or for those of you who were unaware that it even was an option.


-It’s a great option for traveling with kids. Most kids are fascinated by trains so actually riding one is a novel experience for them. Also, since train travel is much more relaxed many of the problems that you might encounter during plane travel with kids tend to be non-issues during train travel. Finally, if you opt for a sleeping compartment you can just shut the door if your kids act up. (Not that I would know from experience or anything!)

-You are not confined to a small space with little opportunity to move about like you are on a plane. There are dining cars, club cars and observation cars for you to get up and explore and you aren’t going to be told to get back in your seat and put your belt on for doing so.

-Should you decide to spend all your time in your seat instead of exploring you will find that your seat is much larger and has far more leg room than a plane.

-Should your train run late Amtrak is surprisingly accommodating in getting you where you need to be and making sure you’re not stranded. They will text or email you if your departure time is late and if you miss a connection their policy is to hold the connecting train if it won’t make the held train too late or arrange for a bus to get you to your final destination or put you up in a hotel until you can meet the next train or bus.


-It takes much longer to travel by train than it does by plane. If you’re short on time or impatient you might want to consider another means of transportation.

-The trains don’t always run on time which sometimes makes meeting connections a concern. It also tends to annoy friends or family who might have to wait when picking you up at the train station.

-While the Empire Builder and many of the other major lines are very nice, some of the commuter lines can be a bit dodgy and certainly less luxurious.

-Train schedules can sometimes be kind of strange. You may have to board or get off the train at odd times of the night.

I really love taking the train and I hope you will consider it as a future travel option for you or for your oilfield man. If you have the time and patience and are looking for a less expensive, but rather novel option for travel to and from the Bakken it’s definitely worth doing at least once.

Have you used the train to travel back and forth to the Bakken? Or anywhere else for that matter? Leave me a comment and let me know about your experience.

About chelsea

Chelsea is mama to 4 year old Will and partner to her oilfield man and best friend of 16 years, Jacob. She splits her time between the family’s camper in the North Dakota Oil Patch and a small urban homestead in Kentucky. Chelsea writes about the family’s camper adventures at www.talesofanoilfieldgypsy.blogspot.com. She is a batik artist and loves teaching others about the art of batik at www.beautyofbatik.com. She can also be found working on her other sites www.chelseaniehaus.com and www.urbanagricultureinfo.com. In her moments of spare time she enjoys knitting, sewing and gardening.

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