Railway Travel Basics
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What do I need to consider if I’m traveling by train with my baby?
Once you've decided that train travel is your vacation of choice with your infant, you'll need to start thinking about the logistics. With train travel, you do have trade-offs to traveling by car. You don't have the flexibility of leaving, stopping, and going as you would if you were driving your own vehicle. However, you have the freedom of spending your time observing the landscape and exploring the train with your infant. Your infant might last for six hours stuck on a train, but you wouldn't be able to do that in a car – at least not very well. With that in mind, here are some railway travel basics you'll need to consider when you're going with baby.
- The fare for train travel can be relatively affordable, if you're doing a short railway trip and traveling coach. Kids under 2 share an adult seat and don't pay a fare.
- However, if you're going on an extended trip, you'll likely want to book your own sleeper accommodations on the train. With Amtrak, this can range from the smaller roomette with seats that convert into a bed to a family bedroom, which converts to sleep two adults and two children. The caveat to booking sleep arrangements is that the fares are much pricier.
- Book your tickets and accommodations early for extended travel. You probably don't want to be stuck with the entire family sleeping a few nights in coach seating – especially with an infant.
- Find out what amenities will be on your train. Amtrak may have meal services available, depending on the route and length of your trip. Most long distance routes have a dining car that serves hot meals and may require reservations. Some routes also have informal dining like a snack bar.
- As far as luggage is concerned, you do have a two-piece limit per person for bringing on luggage. You can also check an additional three pieces of luggage if you really need to bring that much with you. As you would expect, it's advisable to pack as light as possible.
- You do need to bring a portable crib for baby. Remember train accommodations are tight and you won't be able to fit much of anything in your room. For infants, take a look at the Peapod Travel bed by Kidco ($50) for space savings. It folds into a bag for travel and pops open for sleeptime
- Snacks, beverages, formula, diapers, and other essentials are important as well, since you won't be able to make a stop at a store and you don't want to be without while you're on the train. Though meals and snacks may be available, don't assume they'll have what you need or want to feed baby.
- We also suggest your bring a baby carrier for younger infants, since you'll want to have your hands free while moving about.