Amtrak to Michigan

Updated on January 26, 2009
S.B. asks from Beaverton, OR
30 answers

I am considering taking the Amtrak train from Dallas to Grand Rapids, Michigan in May 2009 with my 11 month old son. has anyone ever taken an extended train trip like this that would like to share their thoughts? I figure it will be much easier than flying since he's never flown and will still be breastfeeding. I am finding that taking the train would mean we'll be traveling throughout the night so I'll need a cabin for sleeping. any thoughts on how to save money on the train ticket? a flight is about $400 and the train is $600.

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B.S.

answers from Dallas on

We traveled on Amtrak with a 4 month old. We had a sleeping car. It was relaxing to just sit with the baby and do what we'd normally do at home. Flying is faster but the rocking of the train was very lulling and we all had a great time. We could read or play games while the baby slept. Porters were wonderful.
I think you'd enjoy the train. Flying is always there...

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T.L.

answers from Dallas on

Hi S.,

Tameko, my 16-year-old son just recently went back to Michigan on the train and it was a long ride for the price. For about $30 cheaper (on a one-way) train $163.00 and flight ($121.00) and 20 hours less he could have flown. Therefore, I would really think about and look at other flight on yahoo travel before purchasing your ticket, but also check with your son's Doctor to be sure his ears can handle the air. Good luck!

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C.

answers from Dallas on

Unless you're taking the train for fun, get on the plane. Breastfeeding on the plane is hardly noticable, and the attendants usually help in any way they can. You'll most likely be seated toward the back of the plane since it tends to drown out the noise for other passengers if the baby should cry. Both of my little ones would usually fall asleep and nursing will help calm your baby when the cabin pressure changes. Another good reason to fly (other than being less expensive) is that if your little one should get sick or if anything else unexpected should happen, your journey will be over much sooner than on a train. Good luck and God bless!

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C.P.

answers from Dallas on

Hello S.,

The train ride would be cool but I'd leave it for when he's older and can enjoy the scenery better. I don't know how long the train takes but the direct flight from DFW to GRR is just over 2 hours. You didn't mention if you'd be traveling with another adult that can help you in the train. Good luck!

~C.~

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J.F.

answers from Dallas on

my advice would be to fly. I have a 10 month old and a 2 year old. At 11 months, they are pretty much fine on a plane- probably much better than they would be on an overnight train. When they are two, it is another story all together. Bring a nursing cover or pump and feed a bottle. Just make sure that they are able to suck on something as you take off and land. if you don't want to pay for an extra seat, wear a baby bjorn and put the baby in it as you land and take off. Also, bring a car seat just in case. if they have extra seats, they will let you use it for the baby.

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S.R.

answers from Dallas on

FLY! Especially if the ticket is cheaper, the plane will be easier to manage than the train, simply because it requires so much less time in transit. Granted, my 3 kids are all frequent flyers (and took their first flights as early as 6 weeks), and I am very comfortable with air travel myself. If you're stressed, your baby will be more so. A nursing baby is great on a plane. Buy a seat for the child, or travel mid-week, mid-morning to maximize the odds that you can get an empty seat next to you (that you didn't have to pay for).
Whichever way you travel, pack plenty of food both for yourself and your child. The food available for purchase is not so great, and is way overpriced. Delays are common, so be prepared for them. Take plenty of water (buy it after you're through security at the airport). As long as you have water, your body will make milk. I was stuck on a train with my 6 month old in a snow storm for 3 hours longer than scheduled once. Thank God for an endless supply of breastmilk! Take plenty of diapers, some of them pull ups - not because you think your child is potty training, but because you can put them on a child easily while he is standing up. Diaper changing facilities on both trains and planes are cramped and often dirty. A stand-up diaper change is much easier sometimes. A pillowcase makes a good changing table cover, because it packs small in your bag and covers the whole surface. One with different patterns on each side makes it easy to remember which side goes down on the germy surface and which side stays clean for baby. Same goes for blankets: the double sided ones with different fabrics help you remember which side should touch the seat or floor and which side your baby. The other indespensable items are plenty of wipes, a couple of gallon ziploc bags (for wet or soiled clothing in transit), and some diaper/trash disposal bags (I use those thin plastic produce bags from the grocery store). Don't forget an easily accessible clean shirt for yourself.

Take his carseat. My kids only slept on planes when buckled into their own carseats. It's a very familiar restraint, so they don't fight it so much. Even on the train, you'll need some way of making him stay seated without having to wrestle him the whole time.

Happy Travels. If you're relaxed and confident, your baby will be fine too.

S.
SAHM of 3

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Y.D.

answers from Dallas on

I was breastfeeding and flew with my daughter when she was about 2 weeks old. It was faster and we had no problems. She nursed on take of and landing. Amtrak may be an adventure but it didn't look more affordable and it will take longer.

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S.M.

answers from Dallas on

I would fly! Especially if it's cheaper. I travled (flew) with my kids from the time they were 3 months old and it was not bad. If you are breastfeeding, just try to get a seat by the window and have a coverup for modesty. Always bring your car seat to the gate and see if there are extra seats. Most airlines won't charge you for your child as long as they are a "lap kid" (meaning they sit in your lap), but they will let you use an extra seat for your car seat if the flight isn't full. So, you bring it to the door, you set it up and put your kid in it, tell the stewardess it's a lap kid and that you will give them the car seat if the flight is full. Then, you are off!

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S.M.

answers from Dallas on

I agree with everyone else. Fly! I was a flight attendant for 21 years and saw many mothers flying with infants and having to breastfeed. I wouldn't suggest giving your child Benedryl. When I adopted my daughter from China, we had a very long flight back to the US and some of the parents decided to give their children Benedryl to knock them out. I didn't do that with my daughter and she slept for 7 hours on the flight. The ones who used the Benedryl had a hard time because their children were wired and couldn't settle down. There were lots of regrets.

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L.L.

answers from Dallas on

I think it's probably six of one, a half dozen of the other when you weigh the costs/benefits. I've never taken an Amtrak train ride that far, but I have done Amtrack once before within Texas. The thing you have to be prepared for is to not get into any kind of hurry on Amtrak. The delays that we experience in air travel are NOTHING compared to those with train travel. If it is an overnight train trip in a sleeping cabin, I'd say that's great. But don't do an all-day one, could feel like forever! Lots of stops, lots of delays. But a 3.5 hour plane trip with a little one is also tough...

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M.C.

answers from Dallas on

Breastfeeding on a plane is no big deal. I've done it twice when I flew alone with my son and sat next to men on both flights.

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L.D.

answers from Dallas on

Hi, I'm a breastfeeding mom to a wonderful 10.5 month old son and we have traveled 3 times on the airplane, one trip being a 6 hour flight each way. I would highly recommeend traveling by plane being the travel time will be shorter and the cost is cheaper. We never encountered any problems with breastfeeding while flying.

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C.B.

answers from Dallas on

This sounds like a no-brainer, even though I don't have kids (but we are 5-months pregnant and counting down!) If you are just traveling to Michigan, I would get there as fast as you possibly can. And the plane is cheaper, too - bonus! Traveling by train is different - the train ride is the trip, and therefore the intended adventure. It's like taking a cruise ship to Alaska, when it is just so much easier and cheaper to fly. And I know based on my flight time the traveling with babies happens every day, and the airlines and flight attendants are used to it. Just think- you get to "pre-board" and get on the plane first and get settled before anyone else.

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D.C.

answers from Austin on

Hi S.,
I definitely agree that the plane sounds like a MUCH better option. But, it may really depend on where your son is in his development re: his insistence on independence.

I traveled by plane with my baby boy when he was 8 months old, which was an absolute dream. And, then I traveled with him again at 17 months old, when he was what my husband and I affectionately describe as "possessed by a demon".

At 8 months old, we brought plenty of toys and books and I breastfed him (I recommend a window seat) under a cover-up/shawl during take-offs and landings. It went incredibly smoothly!!

At 17 months old, we also brought plenty of toys and books, but he had reached the "down", "down", "down" (imagine that repeated 5,000 times and you'll have the idea!) stage where he didn't want to be on our laps and wanted to be "down" to go explore everything (which we all know is not a good thing when the seat belt sign is on). After several "tantrums", and walks up and down the aisle, when permitted, it was a definite eye-opener for us. So much so, that we canceled a trip we were to take about two weeks later and decided either no more plane trips until he's three (or through his current stage) or no more plane trips without buying his own seat and putting him in his car seat...

I'm not sure which stage your baby is in at 11 months old. But, you may want to factor that into your decision.

Our son was still very laid back, didn't fight being held, and would "go with the flow" at that age. So, the plane would still have been a good choice for him.

I hope this helps!

Good luck in whatever you decide!
D.

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J.T.

answers from Dallas on

I have traveled to Minn a number of times with my now 18 month old. I would fly. You can give the baby a bottle of pumped milk or water- or even nurse. I never nursed on our Minn trips- but I did on a different, longer flight.
The pressure changes never bothered her ears. Just bring a number of small toys and a few snacks.
Have fun!

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M.T.

answers from Dallas on

I have taken Amtrak with an 18 mo old. Flying was definitely easier. Our train was super late. It was difficult trying to tell my family when to pick us up at the station. Flying to and from the same destination was soooo much better.

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T.B.

answers from Dallas on

I'm flying direct to Grand Rapids in Feb. for just under $300. Do you have to buy a seat for him? If you don't, why not take a 2 1/2 hour trip. You could give him a juice bottle while taking off and landing if your worried about breast feeding in public? I would look into the flights again and plan around nap time unless you are really set on the long train ride. Good Luck!

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B.J.

answers from Dallas on

FLY! It will be much faster and much easier!

T.F.

answers from Dallas on

I cannot imagine being on a train that long with a child. Sounds torturous for both you and your son.

FLY....we have always flown if a drive was more than 2 hours away. It is faster, easier for everybody. My daughter is 14 and she's been flying since before she was 1 yr old.

I do suggest to take his carseat. It is worth it!

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S.A.

answers from Dallas on

I have flown loooong flights with children (from 6 months up to 5 years, alone and with my husband) and never had a problem. My long flights have been about 16 hours, short ones around 2 hours. Very simple and easy. Use a baby carrier (Baby Björn, Ergo Baby, sling, etc) to make it easy to carry your purse, carry-on, diaper bag and baby all at the same time.

I also took a long train ride alone with our daughter when she was 2 (it was about 20 hours, most of it overnight, but also daytime) and I would NEVER do it again! It was a nightmare. Unlike on an airline, I got NO help with my child and my luggage. Had to carry everything on and off the train alone, and at one point my daughter disappeared and I had no idea where she was. Found her on the train, two cars down, visiting with total strangers. This while I was trying to carry our luggage, car seat and stroller onto the train. My daughter was still breastfeeding at the time as well, which wasn't an issue in any respect. I hated it so much that I wanted to fly back (which would have been a 2 hour flight), but we had already paid for the train ticket, so I suffered through it and vowed never again.

I would highly recommend that you fly. It will be so much easier and faster. Breastfeeding is not a problem at all on an airplane. You can either buy a ticket for your son so he has his own seat (in which you can then place an airline approved car seat - handy when you need to go to the toilet if you can't get a flight attendant to watch him for you), or you can hold him on your lap the whole time.

Good luck, whatever you decide to do. And have fun!

B.H.

answers from Dallas on

I would personally rather fly 2 hours with an infant than take a long bumpy overnight ride. The cost is high, too. Save your money and your sanity and FLY!! I found that when flying with my 6 mos. infant (now 3 1/2)that he was fine if I gave him Tylenol and Benadryl 30 min. before the flight. Call your ped. for the correct dosage. I normally do not medicate my child, but in the case of flying, it makes everyone more comfortable. Good luck with whatever you decide.

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J.B.

answers from Dallas on

I have traveled many times internationally - 8hrs and more - with young children, of course, on airplanes.. It really isn't as bad as you think. If you need tips to make your flight as smooth as possible, send me a message.

The train would be GREAT when he is about 2 - 3 years.. and a small part of the trip is in daylight, especially the getting on.

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J.J.

answers from Dallas on

Fly. Plain and simple. Not a hard choice to make.

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J.J.

answers from Dallas on

Hi S.,

My hubby and I were transferred to Dallas from Michigan. We fly back to the Detroit area all the time and have been since our baby was only a few months old(he's almosta year now). It's really not a big deal- the flight is only a couple hours. Get a window seat and bring a big light-weight blanket to throw over your shoulder while your nursing. If there is a man sitting next to you, ask him if he'd mind switching with a woman near you- believe me, I've asked before and they are always more than willing to do so! Flights to Detroit are $239 right now and it's less than 2 hours to Grand Rapids from there. My little guy usually sleeps the whole time and if he's awake we read books and/or he plays peek-a-boo with the people around us.

Good Luck! ~Jenny

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C.W.

answers from Dallas on

Take the plane. It is much easier,cheaper, and faster. You will get to your destination faster and it will be more comfortable being in a bed in a home/hotel vs. trying to sleep on the train. That train ride is grueling for adults, much less a baby.

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D.M.

answers from Dallas on

I agree with the other posters - fly! I flew three times with my son by the time he was 1. The earliest flight was at 4 months. Buy a ticket for your son so you have extra space, if you can, and take his car seat along.

Also, another poster recommended Benadryl. The thought is that it will put the baby to sleep - not so in the case of my son! It makes him wired! So, you may want to give a trial dose before your trip if that's what you decide to do. You'll probably find the airplane motion will lull your baby to sleep and he'll sleep most of the flight. You may want to fly when he's used to napping or sleeping to encouage that. We usually take evening flights for that reason.

Good luck no matter what you choose. Feel free to PM if you have any other questions. We've flown 5 times with my son in 18 months, so I'm full of advice! :)

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C.C.

answers from Dallas on

I have to agree with some other posts. Why spend more money and time on a train vs. flying? At 11 months breastfeeding won't be your son's primary food source so you should be able to book a flight that fits around his feeding schedule (so you can breastfeed right before getting on the plane, etc.).

My youngest (just turned 2 a couple of weeks ago) was about 11 months old the first time she flew and it was just fine . . . she had no problems.

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B.H.

answers from Dallas on

I have flown many times with my son. From the first time at 5 months til recently, it was easy. I was nursing too. I was sometimes by myself or sometimes with my husband. Take the advice on what to bring, etc, and you'll be fine. No, it isn't fun changing a diaper on a plane though. Bring a little dvd player, that saved me if my son got fussy. Sometimes during take off or landing, I wouldn't nurse him and he was fine, the paci was good enough for his ears, he never seemed bothered at all. To me, the shortest trip would be best even if it cost more.
Good luck!

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D.C.

answers from Dallas on

Lots to consider here: were the ticket prices per seat or total? will you be traveling by yourself or with another adult? has your baby had any ear problems or runny/stuffy nose problems on a regular basis?

My husband and I went on a long train trip a few times. Once with one child at 4 months old and breast feeding and then with two children a year apart, one was breast feeding. We absolutely loved it.

I have serious ear problems, so I am in definite pain during and after every flight. That is why I asked about your son's ears. Talk it over with your doctor to see if a decongestant might help, not to knock him out, but to alleviate any pressure adjustment problems.

Airlines are more helpful with children and all their extra stuff, but you'll pay for it if you have to check it in like extra luggage. A shorter time in transit is a definite plus, however.

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M.C.

answers from Dallas on

Just curious, why would you spend more money and time by taking the train rather than flying? I would recommend buying two plane tickets so you can put your son's carseat in the one and he will have a very comfortable and safe place to (most likely) sleep all the way. You'll be there in a few hours vs. days.

You can breastfeed or give him a pacifier or sippy cup during takeoff and landing to prevent his ears from being bothered by changes in pressure. Also, bring snacks and toys to keep him occupied in case he doesn't sleep the whole way.

My sons have been flying since they were infants with no problems whatsoever except all the "stuff" you have to carry with you. But you'd have to carry it on a train as well.

Email me if you'd like more ideas or answers and good luck, whichever mode of transportatin you choose. It will be fine! BTW, most flight attendants are more than happy to help moms with whatever they need, be it holding the baby while you get settled in to your seat, warming a bottle, etc.

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