Long-haul travel with baby--plane or car? Anyone taken the train? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 9 Old 11-06-2011, 12:28 PM - Thread Starter
 
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We are hoping to be able to visit my husband's family sometime in December (maybe not actually at Christmas, depending on what time I can get off from my job). This trip is about a 9-hour car ride with no traffic or construction, so typically it ends up being 10-12 hours depending on these factors. Our daughter will be 5 1/2 months old by then. Typically she travels well in the car, and is generally a sunshiney baby.

 

So I have a dilemma regarding how to travel.

 

Flying would be faster, but I hate and fear the TSA security theatre, it seems like a lot of stuff to lug through the airport especially if we have to make a connection (including a car seat, because the grandparents won't have one), and it's expensive (though we can swing the cost if need be), with added expense because I probably won't know much in advance when I will be free.

 

If we drove, we'd save money, we'd have our own car and car seat and could stop whenever we wanted, and we could easily transport as much stuff as we needed, but it would take forever, our daughter might get bored and be more difficult (she's been fine on shorter trips but 9-12 hours is a long time), and I'd have to either express milk and bottle feed, or stop every time she wants to nurse, which could be just a couple of times but could be more often and there's really no way to predict.

 

So I'm trying to think outside the box. My husband really wants his grandma to meet the baby, so putting off the trip until next year isn't desirable. We took a bus once and vowed never to again as it was a miserable experience--took forever and the communication was horrible. Carpooling would have all the drawbacks of driving ourselves. But what about Amtrak? Fares are very reasonable, security probably will be nothing like the TSA, we could buy an extra seat for her car seat if we wanted, we could get up and walk her if she gets fussy, and I could breastfeed her on the train. The only drawback I can think of is that the train leaves really early in the morning from a town 3 hours away, so we would have to leave in the middle of the night to catch the train. And we'll still have to schlep stuff the way we would when flying.

 

WWYD? Anyone taken Amtrak with a baby? Any thoughts on the flying or driving and the attendant hassles?

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#2 of 9 Old 11-06-2011, 02:20 PM
 
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We actually just flew for the first time and we had a great, easy time. TSA let me wear him in a sling while walking through the metal detector, didn't even open the bag to check our pumped milk, we brought our boppy and breastfed/napped the whole time.

HOWEVER, this is the smaller, simpler airport in the area. If we'd have flown out of JFK (huge, unmanageable security line) we probably would have dealt with much more stupid security theater and generally it would have been awful.

It was a lot of stuff but I think without the carseat, it would have been easily manageable. Next time the grandparents are going to buy him a seat for their car so we don't have to travel with it (we can take public transport to the airport).

I think a train would have been a GREAT option, however, some Amtrak trains don't have assigned seats and it can be difficult to find two or three seats together. This is especially true for weekend trains on the Eastern seaboard. I would be worried about that and try to get reserved seats. The trains can also be very cramped.
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#3 of 9 Old 11-07-2011, 01:02 AM
 
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We just did a huge trip - from Europe to the US (Oregon & Michigan) and back to Europe. The big legs were trains and planes, with auto travel in the US.

 

I found driving in the car to be the worst - and I was always in the back seat with the girl. The longest car trip was ~6 hours. It was awful. She hates the car seat, and it is such a big production to stop & nurse or walk around. But then, we don't own & rarely use a car where we live. Maybe she just isn't use to it.

 

The air-travel was just fine, and often great. We did fly out of big huge airports, with big security lines, etc etc. They never made me take the girl out of the wrap ... just walked right through the metal detector (never made us go in the scanner), and then took me aside to swipe my hands with a bit of tissue & done. I had heard stories about babies ears giving problems on planes, but it was never a problem for us. We nursed lots, and I did give her a dose of nose drops about a half hour before scheduled take off. There were changing tables in all the plans we were on. We walked around on the plane the few times she was fussy durring the long-haul flights. AA, and I bet most others, lets you take car seats for free, and will let you use an empty seat if there is one next to you. And everyone wants to help (move you to better seats or whatever) because everyone, everyone wants a happy or sleeping baby on a plane. Everyone.

 

I found trains to be like planes in terms of walking around, comfort ,etc ... and it was nice to not have to go through security, or have my usual fear-of-flying feelings. But on a train you have to deal with luggage. Ugh. We just had two suitcases, daypacks, and a baby ... and it was a hassle. Much easier in the airport where we could just grab a luggage cart. But if you can go super light, then the train is a winner.  

 

Good luck with your trip. 

 

 


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#4 of 9 Old 11-07-2011, 06:39 PM
 
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We did an eight-hour car trip (and back) when the girls were two months old. They did a really good job at sleeping and sleeping, then we would stop about every three hours and feed them (had backup bottles of milk, but didn't need to use them.

 

At two and a half months, we flew to Europe. We tried really hard to minimize what we were carrying (stroller, one big suitcase, a big backpack, a diaper bag (backpack), and a briefcase for the four of us) such that I could manage everything if I had to (pushing a double stroller and pulling a suitcase, wearing a backpack, one backpack and the briefcase hooked to the back of the stroller...very awkward, but it can be done)

 

I have to say that flying was much nicer because I could nurse any time at all. There was less energy spent trying to guess when exactly everyone would need to eat.

 

I expect the train would be similar.

 

It's great to travel with babies who have no expectation that they can get down and run around any time they want...

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#5 of 9 Old 11-08-2011, 10:54 AM
 
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I've done all of the above, all BY MYSELF. Let me say, the train was by far the most awesome. I took a 30-hour car trip with my 3-month-old (15 hrs each way, and stayed with a friend midway), a plane trip from VA to TX and back when he was 7 months, and the train (10 hour trip each way) when he was 11 months. Amtrak was great. I didn't pay for a seat for him, but did carry my carseat along. However, Amtrak seats don't have seatbelts, so you can't actually install a carseat. I just left it where they have space for luggage. You can check I think 3 bags for no fees. No one makes you take off your shoes. You can nurse. You can walk up and down the length of the train. There's no changing table in the bathroom, but there's plenty of space to put down a pad. I would totally do the train again.


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#6 of 9 Old 11-08-2011, 07:27 PM
 
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I would also vote train! I've flown extensively with both kids (first my oldest alone and then both) - mostly on my own. I despise being in the car so I rarely travel that way.

 

I recently took a short train trip - 2 hrs - with both kids solo and it was awesome! You can walk up and down the aisles, there's a plug to put a DVD player (for my older kid.) I'm even contemplating it for an overnight trip next summer. You're not strapped in like the plane or the car, you don't have to deal with motion sickness, it was easy to nurse and play. Hands down, my favorite way to travel.

 

Flying is OK - I don't mind the security nonsense. It would go train, flying. I wouldn't even consider the car, but my kids hate cars.


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#7 of 9 Old 11-09-2011, 09:53 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for the input, ladies. I think we have decided on me taking the train with the baby and my husband driving. shrug.gif Doesn't make sense to me, but he says he wants to be on his own schedule and not have to deal with people--he doesn't want to take the train, but doesn't mind if I do, and since I REALLY don't want to fly or drive, it seems best to me. Plus he won't have to stop as often without me and my tiny bladder along (baby notwithstanding!)

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#8 of 9 Old 11-10-2011, 02:25 PM
 
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.... funny that you say that - DH drives and I fly when we have to travel to see my parents. There is no way in HECK that I'm putting 2 kids in the car for 13 hours and he hates flying with a passion. It works for us!


Me (40) DH (49) daring DD (9) and darling DS - almost THREE! (born June 25, 2010 in an amazing, unplanned homebirth.jpg

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#9 of 9 Old 11-10-2011, 03:02 PM
 
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We're thinking we might be attending wedding down in So. Cal. sometime next year. We'll have an infant and a 5-6 year old at the time, and it is an 8 hour drive without traffic or stops. I don't want to drive, and flying sounds like a serious hassle. We'd also probably fly SouthWest if we do fly, and our car seats do not fit in their seats. (The seats are very narrow.) The train is looking more attractive. We won't save time compared to driving, but at least we could move around and be comfortable. No worrying about finding clean bathrooms, places to eat (slim pickings once you're past Fresno), or having to stop to nurse. I also wouldn't have as many issues using my scooter as I would with flying. (mobility issues.)

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