Amtrak Overnight: Mom, Dad, 5M/o

Updated on February 06, 2010
B.W. asks from Estero, FL
4 answers

My husband and I are considering traveling from Michigan to Mississippi via the overnight Amtrak route from Chicago. We've never traveled by train (except during a vacation in Italy pre-baby). We are considering booking the tiny Superliner Roomette for the overnight ride. We are 5'4" and 5'10" and thin, so I'm hoping it won't be too cramped with us and baby. (We are going with the tiny roomette because we can't afford the larger ones.)

I don't feel comfortable with airline travel with baby for the following reasons: close quarters with coughing strangers, difficulty of diaper changes and nursing in tiny plane seats, cramped space with an infant on my lap for hours (sometimes she will only be pacified if we walk with her; stop walking and she starts screaming), the challenge of quieting a screaming infant on a plane, difficulty of bringing infant paraphernalia (stroller, carseat, carseat base, diaper bag, etc) with restrictions on space and extra baggage fees, difficulty of lugging infant paraphernalia through the airport to get to connecting flight(s), the hassle of going through security with infant paraphernalia (also don't like how much more intrusive security checks are becoming...full body x-rays).

So, I really like the idea of a train adventure and the greater flexibility it offers in traveling with a nursing infant.

I'm wondering how to sleep with baby. I'm concerned about safety issues with co-sleeping. I wonder if I could curl up on the lower berth and put baby on the other end of the bed in her car seat?

Any advice you can give us on Amtrak travel, especially in a roomette with an infant?...carry-on baggage versus checked (where do the carry-ons go? the room looks too small for them), best fares, tips on infant travel via Amtrak, etc. We are complete novices at this.

Thank you for your help!!! :)

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answers from Spokane on

Yes, the car seat will probably work for sleeping. The train is will have a blast and all fit just fine. It will be close quarters but I'm sure you guys can manage! The best part being you are able to get up and move/walk about!

We love the train. Last time we took the train overnight from Spokane,Wa. to Portland, Or. and when we boarded it was really late in the evening and we were first in line and the nice ticket man upgraded us to the "handicap" was so huge and had its own bathroom! The only downside is it was the very last room in the very last train car...we were literally the caboose! i thought it was kinda scary...hubby thought it was fantastic!

*Dont forget the laptop and some movies, passes the time nicely. Last time we bought a collection of short "scary" stories on tape and it was awesome! Can't wait to do it again sometime!



answers from San Diego on

We used a carseat as a safe place for baby to sleep while camping. (In a pinch in more civilized surrounds a dresser drawer works really well also.)

I would suggest making sure the carseat was wedged into a back corner of the berth, and personally... I would put the seat by my head... so I wouldn't kick the seat over or my baby in the night.



answers from Chicago on

I do not see too much of a difference between the train, plane or car. We flew with our son last year he was 7 months old to FL on plane. There was no problem with brining the stuff we needed for him. This year we are putting him on a seat of his own with his car seat as he is 19 months old and I think he will sit better in the car seat. I had no problem nursing him in the plane and since our trip was only 2.5 hrs, I did not need to change him on the plane.

You should do fine.. I think the moving train helps. Just like in the car. I would bring the car seat, I think that is their safe place and comfortable.

Good luck



answers from Minneapolis on

We've traveled from MN to IN several times since our daughter was born over 2 years ago. We've driven the car (BAD IDEA), taken the train and have flown. Flying has the advantage of getting there quickly, but the stress of it all is a lot and still takes a fair amount of time when you figure in 2-3 hours to park the car, get tickets, go through security, wait at the gate and then the actual plane ride and then waiting to get off the plane, walk through the airport, wait for checked baggage, get a rental car, etc.

The disadvantage to the train is that it takes as long as driving (maybe longer) and you are "stuck" on the train until your destination. The advantages, however with a baby, are great. You do not need to stay in your roomette (we never had one). You can walk about the most of the train the entire time, there is usually an observation car that has tables and "captains" chairs for you to sit in and look at the beautiful scenery. You get to see a lot of countryside that is only visible by train (if you travel during the day!) If you were to sit in the coach cars for a while, the seats recline with foot rests and there are electrical outlets at each set of seats. There is plenty of floor space through-out the lower levels of the cars to put out a blanket for baby to play. You can bring your own food and drink so you can keep your money in your wallet. The snack bar (in the observation car) and the dining car are very expensive.

Pack for baby: Your stroller that holds your infant seat, infant seat, a boppy (for breastfeeding), a bag of toys, blankets (ones that can go on the ground and put away to be washed later), and a sling if you use one. I like your idea to have baby sleep in the car seat at night. It sounds the safest.

Also bring an easy to use cooler for your food and drinks. Try to under-pack than over-pack. Most of your luggage will be stored by Amtrak personnel under one of the cars (similar to checked baggage at airports). You CAN take your stroller, car seat, cooler, and smaller bags on board with you. The Amtrak employees were very helpful with helping us get our things on. There is a luggage area on the bottom level of most of the coach cars. That is where we put the stroller and one of our larger suitcases (we missed the very strict rule of needing to check our bags by the 30 minutes prior to departure).

Hope this helps. We plan to use the train to go back to IN once baby #2 arrives. It is much less stressful than flying and breastfeeding and baby's napping are barely interrupted. :)

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