>U Mom Knows Best: Seven Tips For Taking The Amtrak Train With Kids

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Seven Tips For Taking The Amtrak Train With Kids

Traveling by train can be enjoyable and can save you money

I received items to review to facilitate this post.

   Most people don't consider the train when traveling with their family. They tend to think of the train as a long boring ride but the train can be preferable to air travel when considering expenses. The train can also be way more enjoyable than traveling by car. Taking the train can save you a good amount of money over flying and costs about the same as traveling by car. Traveling by train could be a lot of fun, as long as you are prepped for the journey ahead.

The thing that I like about taking the train is not having to worry about traffic or weather delays. The train may add some time to your travel time but the perks of the train are so worth it. Some of the perks of the train include being able to walk around the train and not having to be confined to a car wondering when your next bathroom break is. On the train, they have plenty of bathrooms and you can use it on your schedule. If you are usually the driver for those long car trips, you will like being able to take a nap on the train.

Why my family prefers the train
 My mom lives in a small town that is not near a major airport so airfare to visit her as a family can be quite expensive. So in the past, we have traveled by car to see her but have never liked the 14-hour drive that it requires. On the last trip that we took to see her and Dad, we stopped halfway for the night to make the trip more bearable but it was still not a fun trip being stuck in a car with kids. So I decided to compare costs and time to see if the train was a good option for our upcoming trip. I was surprised that the train was able to the same cost, even with us having to rent a car as kids 2-12 ride the train for 50% off. The train only added 4 more hours to our trip and considering that we would be sleeping on the train that was just fine with us.

Tips for traveling by train with your children

1. Buy Discounted Kid Fares
We checked out Amtrak and discovered that they have kid's fares that can save a family a ton of money. Kids under 2 always ride for free on the train and kids 2-12 pay half-price when traveling with an adult (each adult can travel with one kid at half-price). So being that I had two kids and three adults, we saved 50% on two tickets.

Amtrak also offers many other discounts to help your family travel for less:

Group travel: Travel with 20+ friends and family members to receive an additional discount off the normal fare
Active duty US military personnel, their spouses and their dependents: 10% off
Promotions: Amtrak always has deals and promotions throughout the year so you will want to sign up for their emails. It was through an Amtrak email that I discovered a deal to save up to 35% off four tickets and that made our train tickets even more affordable.

How To Earn Reward Points And Travel For Free   

2. Check Bags for Free
Amtrak allows you to check two bags (up to 50 pounds) per person for free. Also, if you are traveling with kids under 2, you can check anything related to the child, such as a stroller, diaper bag, travel bed, etc for free. Those items do not count against your two-check bag limit. Think of Amtrak as the Southwest Airlines of train travel! You can also carry on 2 personal items and 2 small suitcases.

3. Bring Activities to Occupy the Kids
While riding a train is fun in itself and looking outside can keep kids entertained for hours, I also suggest bringing some activities too. I love that the train has pull-down tables so kids can set their items down.

Some recommended train activities include:

Tablets: Similar to an airplane, a tablet can be a great way to pass the time. Amtrak does offer free Wi-Fi on most trains. Make sure to load up the tablet with movies and games. On most trains, almost every single seat has an outlet to keep your electronics charged — and remember to bring headphones so your kids do not disturb other passengers. I really like the Playtime Pad when traveling. This 7” HD Kid Safe Tablet comes preloaded with plenty of educational games, videos, and songs. The tablet is enclosed in a  kid-safe durable silicone case so it is made for traveling. I really love the parental controls on the tablet so I can set time limits and control what my child does on the tablet. This tablet has the same features as most other tablets like a camera and it can connect to the internet. I can add other games to my child's entertainment through the Google Play store. The parent's side of the tablet is password protected so I have complete control over my kid's entertainment. Most of the games are geared for kids under 12 but my boys still enjoy playing the games. Since this kid-friendly tablet has internet access on it, I can easily add games to it from the Google Play Store.

Coloring books: Coloring books and crayons are a favorite no matter what age.

Games: If you are able to grab seats with a table, there is plenty of space to play cards or any other travel game. Unlike air travel, you will not have to worry about turbulence, so pick your family’s favorite travel game and go play. This could be the perfect opportunity to actually finish a game of Monopoly!

DVD player: Bring with you a portable DVD player and some movies. Movies are always fun to watch while traveling and will keep the kids quiet for hours so you might be able to get a nap in.

Books: My boys still love for me to read to them and a long train ride is a perfect time to read to them. So bring plenty of books.

4. Arrive About 45-60 Minutes Early
 Unlike air travel, you do not need to arrive at an Amtrak station too far ahead of time. If you are checking bags, they need to be checked 45 minutes before the train departs. Give yourself some time for a bathroom stop before boarding the train. I recommend being near the train gate about 30 minutes before the train arrives so you can get on the train when it first arrives as  Amtrak also doesn’t have assigned seats. That way you will have enough time to ensure your family can sit together. You do not want to be the last people boarding a packed train!

5. Pack Food

 While most trains offer food, you can save money by bringing your own food. That way you have food that the kids will enjoy. I recommend bringing a soft cooler filled with drinks and food. Remember you can carry on 2 smaller bags and 2 smaller suitcases. The night before you travel, freeze snacks like yogurt, apple sauce, and fruit pouches. That way these items will keep the other food cold as well as reusable ice packs. I like to pack other snacks like peanut butter sandwiches, dried fruit, granola bars, Pressels, crackers, and nuts. Make sure to pack plenty of food and water so you don't end up having to buy an over-priced sandwich from the snack car. My kids really love Tree Top apple sauce as it comes in amazing flavors like strawberry and mango. The best part is you can eat it without a spoon!

The one product that I always pack when traveling

  Another item that I like to pack for traveling is an amazing Prebiotic Fiber & Probiotic Blend so kids don't experience tummy problems. This tasteless powder mixes easily into drinks and foods like applesauce. Regular Girl is Fiber and probiotics in one easy-to-pack product. It keeps everyone regular in the bathroom as traveling tends to mess with our bodies. Just one packet a day keeps your belly happy. So enjoy your vacation and not have to worry about the irregularity in the bathroom department. Regular Girl is all-natural, vegan, non-GMO, and gluten-free!

Save 10% on Regular Girl with my coupon code MOMKNOBEST10
6. Pack a Blanket and Travel Pillow
  Even if your train trip is not overnight, I recommend packing a blanket and travel pillow. That way kids can still take a nap. I also recommend packing some extra clothes for just in case. Instead of bringing a bulky pillow, pack a travel neck pillow like the ones you bring on the plane. These take up less space and are just as comfy for kids to use. I love wearing my Sleeper Scarf so I do not have to lug around a bulky travel neck pillow. I look fashionable with this fancy scarf that has a built-in inflatable neck pillow. This scarf comes in many colors so that even guys can look awesome while traveling. The scarf is so easy to wear and once you sit down in the train all you have to do is unzip the back of the scarf and blow up the enclosed inflatable neck pillow and relax in comfort. 

7. Bring a BackPack 

 When I travel, I always bring a backpack as my smaller carry-on item as it is easier to carry than a bag. Wearing a backpack frees up my hands. I like to carry my computer in my backpack also as it is easier to carry that way. When I travel with my kids, I have them carry their own backpacks. That way they can carry their own items to keep them entertained as well as some snacks. A backpack would be very useful for the train so you can carry your valuables like your money and computer on your back when you have to visit the bathroom or walk to another train car. That way you do not have to worry about someone taking your items. I like to buy backpacks and bags that are unique so they are easy to spot, especially for the backpacks that my kids bring to school. I also let my child pick out the backpack, that way they will enjoy carrying it.

  Make sure to get a backpack that fits your child so it is comfortable for them to carry. One place that I really love for buying my backpacks and bags is Backpacks.com. They have a huge selection of backpacks for the whole family, including ones for kids. They have so many unique styles and patterns to select from. I had a hard time deciding which backpack I wanted as I wanted several different ones. This website has all the name brands like Jansport, Eastpak, Swissgear, and many more. The prices are better than what you find in other stores. I recently bought this HERSCHEL SUPPLY CO DAWSON fashionable smaller backpack and I love using it for travel. It also makes a great purse. This cute tropical bag has lots of pockets so it is easy to find what I need. I love that it even has a pocket for my smaller travel computer. The internal pockets offer lots of organizational capacity and would make great for a backpack diaper bag for new mothers. This bag is so lightweight and so pretty to carry. This backpack will be the perfect size for bringing with me when I attend the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta in the fall. Before you know it, summer will be over and your kids will need a new backpack for school. Maybe you need a new computer bag or a new gym duffle.

Bottom Line
 I find traveling on Amtrak with my family extremely stress-free. My kids are not required to sit as still as on the plane. They are not confined in a small car. We can get up and walk the aisle as much as they want. You can even walk to another train car. There are plenty of bathrooms on each train car so kids can go potty when needed. Kids can sleep comfortably on a train as the seats recline. The best part is we can travel for way less.

 Oh, and when making your Amtrak purchases, make sure to use a credit card that earns bonus points on travel. That way you can earn more points to use towards hotel stays and other travel trips.

Does your family travel by train? What are your tips?


Sarah Bailey said...

There is something nice about travelling by train sometimes isn't there? These sound like some great tips as well to make that travel just as simple and stress free as possible when you have kids.

Cristina Petrini said...

I have no children, but the fact remains that you admire the brilliant and perfect way in which you are equipped and organized to face the journey.

Why Girls Are Weird said...

Mmm those pretzel chips look AMAZING. I bet they'd be good to snack on at work when I'm busy. Thanks for sharing!

AiringMyLaundry said...

Great ideas! I've never been on the train with my kids. I bring a lot of these when we go by airplane though. Food is a MUST.

Passion Piece said...

I don't have kids yet, but if I ever go by train anywhere with them, I'll definitely remember about your tips! I couldn't go anywhere without food! :)

Jeannette said...

I have never been on Amtrak, but I have always wanted to go! I can imagine that it would be so much fun to explore this world on a train.

Brie said...

That seems like a good toy for kids, I don't have any of my own but I will definitely recommend to those that do.

Kerrie M. said...

I think it would be great to take a train trip across the country with the kids. Having these tips will definitely make things go smoother.

Jaredamy said...

The last train ride I went one was 13 hours. I could only imagine how terrible it would be for my kids. They would surely need entertainment.

Kathy said...

These are all such great ideas. I've never actually been on the amtrak train before. I'd love to go just so my kids can experience that. I think they'd like it.

Toni | Boulder Locavore said...

Bwing prepared is really the key! Thank you so much for all these wonderful tips!! They are really helpful!

Gust si Aroma said...

Travelling with kids is not easy at all. That's why we need all the hacks that can make it easier!

Alvern said...

My daughter and I sometimes take the train to nearby towns. She loves it because it takes the scenic route and she gets to take the window seat and look out on the sea. The train is also super comfortable compared to the bus.

Anne Marie said...

I've always wanted to take a train trip with my children. Your post has really inspired me!

Krystel | Frugal Living said...

A travel pillow is so important! I hate when I forget one

Rachel said...

We want to take a train trip. We have considered doing a long tour all over the place with a sleeping cabin.

John said...

My kids love the train. WE often use it for our holidays. It is like its part of the holiday itself now. We always take plenty of snacks and things to do. They love it.

Thena, HodgePodge Hippie said...

Now there are some useful tips. I'm getting ready to do this soon so I really appreciate the advice.

S. Graham said...

I used to take the train to see my husband when we were dating. So did he. Saved so much money during a long distance relationship.

reesa said...

My husband is a locomotive engineer, so my kids are pretty versed on the train. They have never taken a long train ride though. I did Amtrak many years ago and it was great!

Nadtja said...

I haven't tried riding a train for long rides. But it seems cool and exciting! Here in the Philippines, we weren't able to revive the train going to provinces yet.

Waren Jean Go said...

You are very efficient with everything you do. Thanks for the tips. This will definitely come in handy when the time comes.

David Elliott said...

I really do love a train trip. I don't do them very often and sometimes its hard for me to find a place which goes to the places I want. But I think it's fun and more relaxing for me in a way airplanes are not.

Peachy @ The Peach Kitchen said...

Thanks for the tips. Our last train ride was just short so no need for blanket and pillow.

Mommy Sigrid said...

Oh this is interesting to know. If ever we get the chance, will take the Amtrak, too. :)

Ewuzie Kingsley said...

Nice tips I really would love to travel by a train one day although I don't have kids yet but am still the child of my mother.

jade said...

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Anonymous said...

Nice tips... I love traveling by train so much!
tank troubles

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