Family Travel

What is advice for train trips with children?

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2006-09-06 01:37:03
2006-09-06 01:37:03

I really like Amtrak. I like the trains, and I like the staff. I like the idea of going on long trips without strapping down an active kid for unnaturally long periods. One of the best things about the train is that kids can move around. But they WILL move around, so don't expect to be able to sit and read the whole time. The Western long-haul trains are all double-deckers, will spiffy observation cars and everything. Coach seating is almost all on the second level, while compartments are all on the bottom level. Only "deluxe bedrooms" and "special bedrooms" have toilets. Eastern trains are single-level, with a very different set of sleeping compartments to choose from. Compartments are expensive. In the one trip where I compared prices, a family bedroom would have doubled the ticket price. We traveled coach. (I didn't sleep well on the trip up, did much better on the trip back, and would probably sleep soundly if I did it again.) Coach has incredible amounts of legroom (at least on Superliner coaches). Even if the train is "full," there are lots of seats in the observation car and the snack bar, allowing you to move around freely on a full train. There are lots of kids on the long-haul trains, and they are tolerated very well by the other travelers. Make full use of the dining car, even though the prices are unappealing, because the snack bar fare is questionable. (Microwave pizza is the best kid food in the snack bar. The snack bar pastries are terrible.) Call Amtrak at 1-800-USA-RAIL. I've found the people at the other end to be very helpful. Ask them to send you a copy of AMTRAK'S AMERICA, which describes all their routes and services.

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