J.G. asks from Arlington, VA on October 16, 2008
Train Travel with 3 Kids
Hi Mamas! Is it crazy to think I could survive a 21 hour train trip with my 3 children? My husband will be unable to go with us so it will be just me and my 8, 6 and 2 year old. My girls are a little on the loud side and the 2 year old gets cranky when tired. I have never traveled by train and have no idea what to expect. All of the sleeper cars are booked for the dates we are traveling! Would the coach seats be good enough? I need advice for those who have done this before.
2 moms found this helpful
So What Happened?™
I truly appreciate all the honest responses. The stranger danger didn't even occur to me until reading some of the post. I'm looking into airline tickets right now and will plan a train trip to a closer destination. Thank you so much!!
E.T. answers from Washington DC on October 17, 2008
Great advice from the other moms. Bring plenty of baby wipes to wipe down the toliet area before using. The toliets often get kind of dirty as the trip goes on (true for overseas flights, as well). Definitely invest in a portable DVD player, particulary for the 8 and 6 year old and 2 headsets (one for each of them). Perfect for long trips like this and you can plug it into the outlets available on trains! Maybe you could also buy some "Thomas the Train" coloring books, music or DVDs... or something train themed for the trip.
Just re-read your question... you seem more worried about lack of sleeper cars and coach seating. The seats can turn around so that they face each other. Ask the train attendant/conductor/ticket man for help. I often fly internationally with my almost 2 year old... usually 15 hour flights in coach. You have more room on train coach than you do on flight coach... so it is doable. Amtrak business class provides blankets and pillows, but Coach does not. So bring a small pillow and blanket for each child. Great thing about train travel is the rocking and loud background noise, so I think that you kids will fall asleep easily and have an urge to nap more than you might think... especially after it gets dark outside.
Best of luck to you!
M.L. answers from Washington DC on October 17, 2008
A.S. answers from Washington DC on October 17, 2008
The train is an amazing experience and I hope you all enjoy it. I have taken many a trip on them and so have our children, albeit not for as long a time as you are traveling.
Hopefully these tidbits will help:
A big bottle of hand sanitizer. Trains are really no dirtier than planes or other forms of travel...this is just so you have something handy to use.
I have read the other responses...do not be weary of train travel. We have done it all...buses, trains, planes, our cars. All have ups and downs...and personally, I love the train the best. Your 8 and 6 year olds are old enough to really enjoy this experience. Perhaps even be helpful with your toddler. Gosh, do not worry about loudness...all kids are like this to a point, esp. when excited and/or tired. Try and explain rules, etc. to all of them before your trip. I did - and all was okay, but the trip was not as long as yours. So, I am sure I would have experienced some ups and downs...yet, I am sure it will all go great.
Pack lots of snacks/food, as very often on long trips the cafe runs out of lots of items - either way, these are so expensive. So, bring your own. I saw a woman who brought individual tuna packs that included mayo, crackers, etc...my kids do not eat this, but we packed lots of easy, good for you items that they love. Also some "treats" as this kept them acting sooo good! :0) We also had to pack lots of drinks - heavy to carry on, yet saved a lot of money and also were used before the end of our travels so that once we were on the train, I knew I would not have to carry them off. (We packed individual snacks, pre-packed...extra's as we share with other kids on the train sometimes and it is nice for parents to know that these were safe.)
A portable movie player in a MUST in my book. Make sure you have headphones as I do believe that these must be utilized. However, we have met some really nice people on the trains. One specific trip had my girls, sitting with four other children watching the same movie and the conductor was aok with this. Nice that us mom's who were also traveling alone could laugh and chat together knowing the kids were having fun, too!
I took markers, pens and a notebook for each kid to draw/write in. Which brings me to something else, each child took a bookbag which they filled with these markers, a book, etc. Basically anything they wanted and this allowed them to help carry items so that I could concentrate on our luggage, food, etc. They loved having their own things!!
Also try to arrive early and be the first to board. The conductor will help you board as you have children. Try to get the first seats on the car as you have so much leg room, etc. We did this and had room to spread out!! Also, this is the area that you will find your co-horts - i.e. other parents traveling with children who also desire the extra room. This makes for loads of fun!!! Even if the train is packed initially, very often it empties out and you can then scout out these very coveted seats!
And I had the kids pack small pillows or headrests with a small blanket. (All of these fit in their own packs, I think)
Good Luck and have a wonderful and safe trip!
A.C. answers from Washington DC on October 17, 2008
I took a greyhound ride to Colorado before and NOT with kids, but my advice would be if you are crossing a time zone- take a plane! It took way to long and the interaction with strangers was sometimes weird and scary-and I was an adult. The thought of 21 hours, young kids, and no bed/privacy sounds like a 50/50 for disaster. I think the extra cash it may take to fly would be worth it for the time savings with three kids.
K.H. answers from Dover on October 17, 2008
Never traveled on train before, but my mom recently did for the first time. The only thing I can tell you is that she said it was LOUD...so I wouldn't worry about your girls being too loud if that is true!
S.C. answers from Norfolk on October 17, 2008
Is there a specific reason you are traveling by train? Flying would shorten your travel time tremendously. Coach seats for that amount of time is asking for a major meltdown. Though you can get up and walk around some, doing so with 3 kids may be a hassle. I would seriously reconsider either your mode of transportaion or travel dates. Also take the time to teach your girls about travel etiquette and indoor/library voices. Good luck.
K.J. answers from Washington DC on October 17, 2008
The last responder is right they are loud and if your kids are to the sound is absorbed by the train pretty well. I traveled from Tucson AZ to San Antonio TX (19 hr ride) a few years ago and my girls were 8 mo, 3.5, and 5. My husband could not come either. My advise, pack lots of snacks and sit new the front of the train. (Train food is very expensive and not very healthy. I took a little cooler and it worked great.) There is a little more noise from the door and people coming and going but there is more room in the front row because there is a wall in front of you and not another row of seats. No one in front of you to try and lean the seat back and take up your room. I don’t know if your 2 old is small enough for a stroller but if you have an umbrella stroller take it. I was able to open it in front of the seat that on of the kids was in (she did not have her own seat) and she was able to sit and sleep there very well. It even inclined nice with the break so she had a mini bed. Yes it was tight carters but we made it. Also take lots of crayons and activities they can do in their lap. I didn’t have this back then but do you have a phone that shows movies or a small portable dvd player? Some people do now a days and I’m sure that would help.
I hope this gets you started. My kids loved it and they still talk about the fun train ride. If you go into it like its an adventure they will to. If you dread it, they will have a lot harder time. You set the tone !
A.B. answers from Washington DC on October 17, 2008
If you decide to take the train bring lots of blankets. My mother-in-law just took the train to visit us and said it was freezing in the coach car. Good luck with your trip!