What Makes A GENUINE Traveler?

by Shelli Stein

What’s your definition of a genuine traveler? Maybe it’s someone who has been to every country in the world. Maybe it’s someone who stays more than one day in each place they visit. Or maybe it’s someone whose travel style you’re trying to emulate. If one of your definitions is someone who has completed their travel goal, whatever that may be, then I’ve got a story for you. At 84, this traveler completed his goal of riding all 21,000 miles of the Amtrak network. I really enjoy traveling by train, so Nat Read caught my attention and is due a big congratulations.

He says he’s ridden every mile on the Amtrak rail network, and has never grown tired of looking at the country through a train window.

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Who is Nat Read and what makes him a genuine traveler?

His travel stats are impressive:

  • He’s been to all seven continents and both the North and South Poles. However, traveling the passenger trains in the U.S. left him with some of his favorite memories.
  • He’s 84 now, and as of his recent trip to Brunswick, Maine, he says he’s now ridden every mile of the Amtrak map. That’s about 21,000 miles.

As it can often happen, the goals we reach were never set in the first place. They sort of unfold over time. That’s what happened to Read.

Read said he didn’t set out to do it, but about four years ago he was looking at a map and realized how close he was to completing the entire network. He took out a colored marker and noted each leg he hadn’t yet finished.

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You might be asking yourself what’s the big deal about Amtrak train travel?

I happen to agree with Read when he says there is a magic to trains that cars and planes just can’t capture.

One of his earliest memories of trains was traveling home after seeing his father off to WWII. From there, he was captivated by the adventure and opportunity train travel offered. You just can’t compete with a train, according to Read.

Here’s what Read said when NPR interviewed him for an article:

On the magic of Amtrak train travel:

On a train, I sit on the top of a two-story magic carpet while watching a technicolor diorama scrolling beside me as I progress from the mountains to the prairie, from sea to shining sea. And that’s unique to railroads. I never tire of coasting to a stop in another small town and watching a cluster of pickup trucks at the station and people coming together, friends and kin, to express their love and their bonding.

On how he felt pulling into the last station in Brunswick:

Oh, I felt euphoria. The conductors on the train made an announcement — “We have on the train today a Mr. Nat Read, who has completed…” — you know, they made the whole announcement. It was actually a rather long announcement, so when we got to the station, people were lining up to have their picture taken with this famous person!

Final Thoughts

I hope Nat continues his passion for travel and adventure for many more years to come. Who knows what other goals this Amtrak train travel hero will  reach?

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