>U Mom Knows Best: Riding On The Amtrak Train With My Family

Monday, June 10, 2019

Riding On The Amtrak Train With My Family

 My family and I decided to take the train from Albuquerque, New Mexico to Kansas City, Missouri to visit my mom who lives in Neosho, Missouri. We wanted to avoid that long boring car trip and after checking out prices of airfares, we knew that the Amtrak was a way better deal. The price of the train tickets for three adults and two children was $600 round trip total! Kids ride for 50% off on Amtrak trains so that saved us a lot of money and we took advantage of a sale too. Now that may seem more expensive than driving but when you add in gas, food, and hotels, I think that the train is a better deal. When we drive to Neosho it takes us about 15 hours with meals and breaks. Since the car ride is so long, we like to stop halfway and spend a night in a hotel. The train trip is 18 hours long. Once we arrive in Kansas City we will be renting a car and then have to drive 2 1/2 hours. Traveling by train sounded so much better to my husband as he no longer likes to drive those long road trips. I so agree as being cramped into a car for a long time is no fun.

Did you know that kids ride for half price on Amtrak trains?
Check out Seven Tips For Taking The Amtrak Train With Kids

 Last month I wrote about how I prepared for our train ride and how I scored some great Amtrak tickets. Now I am sharing my experience on the train with my family. The week before our train ride I made a packing list of all the items that we would need while on the train. I made sure that each family member had their own travel bag for the train in addition to their suitcase. I also brought with a large soft cooler for food and drinks. We will be checking our suitcases so we don't have to worry about lugging them around. Here are items that I made sure was in everyone's bag as well as what I packed in the food cooler.

Pack in the carry on bag
+ change of clothes
+ entertainment items like a tablet, travel DVD player, computer, charging cords
+ water bottle
+ neck pillow
+ small blanket
+ ear plugs
+ headphones
+ pen and paper
+ sleep mask
+ slipper socks
+ deck of cards
+ travel games
+ books

Pack in the food bag
+ hand sanitizer/ kid-safe antibacterial wipes
+ first aid kit
+ dried and fresh fruit
+ granola bars, protein bars
+ cookies
+ nuts, Baru seeds
+ paper plates
+ crackers
+ hummus
+ applesauce
+ cold sandwiches
+ plastic utensils
+ cold brew coffee and travel coffee mug along with powder creamer and sweetener
+ other snacks

Get comfortable
 Since we were going to be on the train for 18 hours, I made sure everyone wore comfortable clothes like sweats and gym shoes. I even packed some slipper socks so I could take my shoes off while relaxing in my chair.  We about an hour before the train arrived so we could get on the train as soon as it arrived. That way we could find seats together. The train has overhead storage so I placed our carry on bags up there. We then grabbed our entertainment items and sat in our chairs. I love that the chairs reclined and had footrests. Almost all the seats had pull-down trays and electrical outlets. We were seated in the front seats of the train that did not have pull-down trays but they had more leg room.

The best entertainment item for kids while on the train
 To keep my boys entertained on the train, we rented some DVDs from Redbox before we got on the train. I brought with a kid-safe portable DVD player and tablet. This 2-in-1 tablet and DVD player is the perfect portable entertainment provider for kids! It comes pre-loaded with over 23 educational games, 120 video clips, songs, and music videos in subjects including reading, math, and more. I love that my boys can watch movies on the train or play games. There are even 5 hours of video that is installed on the tablet that my boys can watch without the internet. The PBS Playtime pad is lightweight and has a headphone jack so my boys do not disturb others on the train. This 2-in-1 DVD player also comes with an outlet charger so my boys can charge it in the outlets near their seat. Since it is an Android tablet it can be hooked up to the Wifi on the train. My boys can also use the camera on it to take pictures. I love that this device has parental controls so I can manage their use and set time limits. This DVD/Tablet is great for traveling or at home.

Be prepared for emergencies 
 I always travel with a first aid kit as kids always need a bandage. Having bandages in my travel bag has saved me many trips to the store while traveling. My favorite first aid kit includes 100 items in three pods so I can grab the size that I need for travel. The smallest pod on the Medipro First Aid Kit has an assortment of bandages and antibiotic ointments. The organized pod fits perfectly in my travel bag so I am ready for those injuries. The Little Buddy wipes that I brought with can be used for cleaning scrapes or cleaning our hands before eating. These wipes kill the germs without alcohol or stings.

Eating on the train
 The Amtrak allows you to bring food and drinks on the train that you may consume in your chair or in the observation cars. You can also purchase food on the train. We chose to bring food with us so we could save money. I packed enough items for two meals and snacks. See my list above for food suggestions. I packed our food in a soft cooler with some ice packs. There is no way to heat food up on the train so I only brought food that did not need to be heated. I even packed some cold-brew coffee pods so I could make myself a cup of coffee, that way I did not have to buy coffee on the train. These amazing pods from Java House are a dual purpose coffee concentrate that you can pour into a cup of water or use in a single serve coffee maker. All I had to do was peel open the pod and pour it into my travel mug with 8 ounces of water and I had a cup of delicious coffee. I also brought some hot water in one of those metal water bottles so I enjoyed my coffee hot. It is amazing how long water stays hot in these bottles!

 I also brought along some soft baked allergy-friendly cookies that are free of dairy and gluten. These cookies were so delicious and I love that they are made with plant-based ingredients. These Simple Mills cookies also come in a crunchy variety and many flavors. I tried to pack the chocolate chip cookies but my boys discovered them before our trip and ate them all up. Ok, I did help them eat them as they were so delicious.

 I also brought with some Baru seeds to snack on. These seeds have a similar taste to peanuts but are a legume so are allergy-friendly.  I recently discovered these seeds from Brazil and thought they would make a great snack.

Get up and walk
 I think the best part of taking the train was being able to get up and walk to the bathroom when needed. The train has plenty of bathrooms in the lower cars so I never had to wait to use one. You can also walk the observation car. This car has floor to ceiling windows with many chairs so it makes for a great place to hang out for amazing views. The observation car also has tables so I brought my computer and worked while my son watched a movie. Later that evening my older son, who brought with travel games, kept the boys busy with games. You can bring your food to this train car also.

Tips for sleeping on the train
 Our trip was from 11:30 am to 6:30 am the next day so we were able to sleep on the train. We brought the neck pillows that we use on airplanes, a small blanket, and slipper socks so we could get comfortable. They dim the lights on the train at night and the train seats semi-recline. I recommend bringing a music device and headphones or earplugs and so you can block out any noise. For the most part, people were quiet but there were passengers having conversations. A sleep mask also comes in handy for sleeping.

How I passed time while on the train
  I brought with my computer so I was able to get some writing done. All the seats on the train have electrical outlets so I was able to keep my computer charged. I was also able to connect to the internet from my phone so I browsed the web. I too rented some movies. The train ride was a perfect time for me to watch movies that I have been wanting to watch. I also took some time to catch up on my sleep. My family walked to the observation car and enjoyed looking out the windows. We also brought with some games and had fun playing them. My husband enjoyed looking out the window and taking photos. My husband also enjoyed not having to drive those long hours in a car and instead made time for plenty of naps. I liked having the freedom to go potty when I wanted to and not having to ask my husband to stop at the next exit. When we arrived at the train station, we picked up our luggage and then called the car rental company. The car rental picked us up at the train station and bought us to their place so we could get our rental car. I love using Enterprise car rental for the pick you up feature. We then drove 2 hours to my mom's house.

Have you traveled by train for a vacation?


Betsy said...

This sounds way better than driving for sure! I've never travelled by train but I've always considered it when we've driven to Chicago. Reading this definitely makes me want to do it!

Paula Stewart said...

I spent 25 hours traveling by bus, one time. That was a long TRIP and I never want to experience that again! I wish that I had prepared for it with many of these items on your train travel list.

Passion Piece said...

I love traveling by train a lot! Tips for sleeping on the train are just for me! :)

laurenofalltrades said...

I'm going to be taking a train from Munich, Germany to Venice, Italy next year. It's a shorter trip than you took, but these are some great tips for my adventure nonetheless!

Jen Sky Walker said...

I've never traveled by train before, but it sounds so much better than a long drive in the car! I like that you can actually walk around some rather than being stuck sitting down!

Why Girls Are Weird said...

I've never traveled on a train before but it sounds like a lot of fun. Thanks for the great tips!

Heavenly Savings said...

Riding a train across the country is on my bucket list. You can see so many beautiful sights and meet some fun people. I love that the seats have outlets. I never knew that before. What a fun way to spend the summer!

Ceci Rey said...

Great suggestions! I also did not know the price for children was discounted. You have given me something to think about. Thanks for sharing!

Alvern said...

Oh my, I am not sure that I could handle 18 hours on a train. I find 9-10 flights very long but 18 hours is another level of long. I guess it is not as cramped as an aircraft so it has a number of advantages.

Debra Schroeder said...

What a fun trip and neat tips for saving on meals. I’ve taken Amtrak several times but not with my family or a very long trip. Might have to try it.

Junell said...

What a cool experience! I've never taken my kids on a train like this but your list will be very handy when we do.

Candace Hampton said...

Sounds like a great experience. I like how prepared you were. I usually pack snacks, books, my Beats and my neck pillow. Thanks for sharing!

Candace Hampton

Alexandra Pilo-Torrijos said...

These are great tips to keep in mind while booking a trip with kids. Thanks for the breakdown.

Enriqueta E. Lemoine said...

Ive never used a train before, but I will be keeping this post in mind just in case I ever find myself in this position.
Thanks for the post!

Jennifer Tanney said...

I've only travelled by train in foreign countries. I didn't know it was so comfortable in the USA. It sounds like a great and reasonable way to travel. It's always nice to have outlets, WiFi and bathrooms.

Hannah Marie said...

This seems to be a complete list of all the things you need to know when going on a trip with the whole family. I can imagine how stressful it can be. Well, thanks to this I now know how to handle it.

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