Travel with Young Children on Amtrak

Updated on March 08, 2011
C.R. asks from Rowlett, TX
9 answers

Have any of you traveled using Amtrak? I'm looking at a 2 day train ride with my two sons ages 4 and 7. Any information would be appreciated.

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So What Happened?

Thank you so much for all the information. I've never been on a train and didn't even know what to ask. We will be traveling from TX to CA. I'm thinking that it might be faster and even cheaper to fly so I still have my homework to do but your experiences are invaluable to me.
Thank you again,

More Answers



answers from Kansas City on

We took amtrak to and from KC/Chicago with a 5 month old. It was so wonderful to be able to get up and walk around. It was also nice that my husband and I didn't have to drive so that we could take turns (or tag-team) caring for our baby. On the way back home, our train ride was an overnight. If the baby woke up and started fussing there was an "observation car" that people were in talking, reading, etc... That was a great place to go so that the baby wouldn't wake the sleepers in our train car. Bring snacks - it is so fun!!!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Lincoln on

We traveled 26 hours on Amtrak from KS to AZ with a 9 and 6 year old. It was a wonderful way to see the beautiful off-road scenery along the way and faster and less wearing than driving! We did not get a sleeping car, but that is all I would want to do without a sleeping car. So I would recommend you get one. The chairs are big and roomy, but if you are not a 6 foot plus size, the headrest, etc. do not fit smaller people for sleeping. Do expect delays, and departures and arrivals to not be timely. If your destination is a small town and your estimated arrival is in the middle of the night, I recommend lining up someone to pick you up in advance of your trip. I would also recommend loading up on movies and packing a cooler, but it was a unique experience to eat one meal in the dining car! I would also load up on movies, electronics, books, and toys to take to keep them entertained. We took kiddie card games like Go Fish or Old Maid and played games at the table in the snack car which was fun family time. We rented a car in AZ for the duration of our vacation and then flew home and were glad we did it that way!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

My friends did this with a 12 and a 2 year old and the had a good time, but they wished that they got a sleeping car. It was difficult, especially with the little one to get them to go to sleep in their seats. I know it's a lot of money, but it maybe worth it. I took my 15 month old on the Eurorail, but it was only for 4 hours each way. She loved looking out the window and being able to walk around. I plan on travelling more by train since it made for such a peaceful ride.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Lexington on

DS is obsessed with trains so we took Amtrak to Glacier National Park last summer. It was a 2 day train ride and we had a lot of fun. We got a family room on the way there and a regular room on the way back so we had lots of room for him to run around. The family room is bigger but the regular room has its' own bathroom. It was nice because all of the meals were included with the room.
I brought some snacks and entertainment with us and a take along thomas set with a couple of engines. We got off at most of the stops that are more than a couple of minutes. He was so excited the whole time. It is definitely something that we will do again very soon.
ETA- the train trip itself becomes part of the adventure. You have to see it as more than just transportation from point A to point B.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Portland on

I've taken Amtrak several times; twice as an advisor to teen groups. Taking Amtrak is ideal with children. They can move around. There is the whole train to explore. You can move two seats so that they're facing each other and have room for play. Yes, take toys and if you have them a DVD player and/or Ipod/mp3 player. You're not driving which gives you time and space to keep them entertained.

The snack car/dining car are on the expensive side. Take snacks at least. Treat yourself to a meal if you can afford it. Or bring "picnic" food.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

My 7 year old daughter and I took the Amtrak to Chicago in November it was 23 hours each way. She had a blast! We paid about $280 for us both round trip. Much cheaper than flying. We would do it again.

Food was bad and exepnsive though so bring sandwhiches! We slept in the chairs they recline and are comfortable. dont bother with your own room.

Bring movies for a dvd player. they have outlets to charge, books, ds's, ipods etc....

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

We have taken Amtrak from Chicago to LA quite a few times and love it. Our first trip was for our honeymoon. After that we knew we would be taking our children someday. For a trip that long I would get a sleeper/family room. When my girls were younger I would pack each of them a small backpack of books, crayons, games, anything that would keep them busy. You will get three meals a day that will help keep them busy and you will put on a few pounds if you are not careful. There is plenty of room to walk which is nice. Second time we took the train my stepson was 11, my daughter was 18 months and I was pregnant and I still had a blast. We only had one long delay and we arrived home 9 hours late! I would have snacks on hand just in case.There is a snack car on the train also. You will see parts of the US you would have never seen before. We counted the train as part of our vacation not just transportation My husband and I are planning on taking the train back to California in 3 years for our 25th anniversary.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I recently took the Amtrak from Austin to Dallas during that huge snow storm and it was fun for me because it was a new experience but I don't know that children will like it after a few hours or so. Not much to look at, not a whole lot of room to run around and most of the stops that were made coming through Dallas left little to desire. If you take them, take an iPod, book, DVD player, anything you can get you hands on to entertain them. Otherwise the trip might not be what you expect it to be.


answers from Iowa City on

I have not traveled on Amtrak with children but my mother brought my niece to visit me on the train. It was horrible. Firstly, there were layovers of more than 5 hours (one wasn't bad because it was during the day so they could go exploring but another one was in the wee hours of the morning) and secondly, every single time my parents come to visit on the train it becomes delayed both going out and coming in (sometimes hours, sometimes up to a day....if you will be traveling through the midwest during tornado season you can expect delays). I would spring for a sleeping car were I you just in case you need a place to stash the kids if they have a meltdown.