In June I'm taking my daughters from Chicago to Portland, OR to visit my brother. We'll be taking 2 side trips while we;re in Oregon. I'm trying to figure out the logistics, especially getting us through the train stations as efficiently as possible. The older 2 will have Trunki pull-along suitcases. I'll have a Micralite stroller and an Ergo. I can't decide if I should bring a backpack--I have a Kelty Pawnee that would fit the clothes and food, and the girls bring their activities in their Trunkis--or should I use a pull-along suitcase, which I'd have to borrow or buy? I'll also need to bring a smaller bag with things we'll need regularly at our seats. I'd like to be self-contained, not reliant on luggage carts or anything because, since I'm not bringing car seats, we'll be taking public transport/walking to/from the hostels. Any thoughts?
Also, the train ride is 45 hours. We're not flying because my 5yo HATES being strapped in the car, so the idea of her on a plane gives me nightmares! We'll have a sleeper car the second night. Anyone have experience traveling solo with 3 or more little ones? I'm a pretty savvy traveler, but the third kid changes everything! I did this trip when my older 2 were 1 and 3 and the train ride was pretty smooth, even without a sleeper, but I'd love to hear any advice or experience you may have! Everyone says I'm insane, but I don't think so. I'm excited and I think we're going to have a blast. What do you think, will I need my own bottle of gin and a few zanex, or will I be okay? Lol!
Are you insance? Not for me to judge. We have hauled our one child with us every where since he was 3.5 months via planes, trains, ferries, etc. Granted, there is a huge difference between one and three but it sounds like you have some experience under your belt.
My train travels are limited to the east coast but I would suggest looking into first/business class seating for the first, non-sleeping night if you can swing it. Twice we upgraded and the cost was very reasonable and definately worth the few extra dollars and it included free water and non-alcoholic drinks and basic snacks. Again, this was on shorter, East coast legs but sooo worth the money.
One thing that would semi-sort of concern me is you being able to get enough seats together. When we travel out of the Philly area, this can be a problem as the trains are really crowded. As long as we can get two together, the other adult sits wherever but with three kids, it might be tough even if you are holding the littlest.
Ha! I would pick a zanex over the gin but definately not both. Ask me how I know.......
So the older one is 8ish and the middle 5ish? (I am calc the ages off your siggy) That is plenty old enough to pull their own luggage. I have taken a similar backpack on plane trips and found the carrying bag to be very handy as luggage for our sons clothing and diapers.
Best of luck! I think you should post about your trip and any tips when you get back.
I think you'll have a blast!
I've taken this route a couple of times on my own and a similar one (CA Zepher SF to Chicago) with DH, a 2 year old, and a broken foot. Good times. We actually love traveling by train, but that was pretty crazy.
On the Portland side, checking in and getting on the train is super easy. You have a lot of time and I bet they would even let your brother help you get settled on the train.
The Chicago side is a little more crazy. Security is tighter, lines are longer, approach is longer (you have to walk the entire length of the train instead of it pulling up to the station mid-way), it is MUCH louder. Our 2 year old was super independent and would roll his own small suitcase. But when we got to the Chicago station, he froze due to the noise from the engines idling. He was sure there was a hellicopter in the enclosed area and referred to Chicago as the helicopter station for nearly a year. On the way back, we insisted that a cart take me (between the two year old and my foot, it really needed to happen that way.) Maybe that would be doable? Also, you might want to call and ask if you could have another adult accompany you to the train there. I have no idea if that is doable in Chicago, but it could make settling in easier.
We find the station goes smoother if we drop off our checked luggage 24-48 hours (I think you can do 48 hours... call and ask) in advance. That way, we can navigate the station with only our carry-ons on the day of travel. I would limit the older kids to what they can fit in their roll-along (2 pairs of clothes and whatever entertainment they can fit). Wearing the ergo on front and having a backpack with your and baby's clothes/toys is a pretty good idea. You could also carry one or two canvas bags with snacks and a few other items knowing that as you consumed the snacks, the canvas back could fold up into the backpack. If you bring the stroller, you could put those bags in the stroller seat, wear the little one and the backpack and go. Also, remember that if you have a sleeper, the meals are complementary, so you only need to pack meals for the first half of the trip.
Nicole, dissertating mama to M (Nov 2007) and expecting another (Mar 2012)