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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
For Thanksgiving we're considering traveling on Amtrak with DD. DH and I love traveling on the train but aren't sure if it's the right thing to do with a 2 year old. It seems better than the tiny planes to North Carolina because there're more space. It would be about a 7.5 hour train ride.
 

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We've taken 3 hour trips a few times - DS is a very active 22 month old.

For us, it is a million times better than the car. We haven't taken a flight with DS so I can't compare plane vs. train. DS could see more out of the windows and he wasn't strapped in so he could wiggle more. He could people watch and "talk" to other passengers. He could nurse freely and eat snacks. When he just couldn't stay in one place any longer, we could walk the aisle. Heck, it was also a lot more likely for us to have success in the potty department (we EC) because we didn't have to find a gas station, pull over, unbuckle and hope that he held it that long.

One thing that I ALWAYS bring - a decent-sized soft blanket. Because DS stands at the window a lot of the time, I use the blanket to pad the armrest/wall so if he gets bumped around while going over rough track, he doesn't get banged up. I also brought a folding potty seat reducer last time so there is less bathroom juggling going on.

Amtrak totally works for us. I'd do a 7.5 hr train trip instead of a car trip with DS any time.
 

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We took DD, 2.5, on a 23 hour train ride in January from Seattle to Oakland. She LOVED it! Much easier than driving would have been, lots to see, lots of people to talk to.

We would definitely not hesitate to travel that way again.
 

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At 3yo I took ds on an overnight train from ******* to London and then we transferred to the Chunnel train to Paris, First part was at night so he slept, then the next part was about 3 hours? He love love loved it! He's been obsessed with trains from a young age. The conductor took him up to the engine car and everything. It was SO fun!

I would say pack a picnic, and lots of entertainment, but I'll take 7 hours of trains where one can walk around, over 3 hours of PLANE any day.

ETA: not to mention the security checks with a LO are such a pain. I have had to chase ds through more than one check point and it is embarassing, frustrating and scary...though to be fair NC's Charlotte airport has this great container for kids to hold them while the grown up are being checked...I still don't like the fear factor for that age. It scares them and people in line say stupid things when dc asks whats happening like "they're just checking for bombs and guns."
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks mamas! Sounds like the train ride will work fine for us. She was miserable on the 1.5 hour plane ride to NC (but fine on the way back) and I want us to try something new. DH and I personally love riding the train but it will be our first time taking the train with a toddler. The last time I was pregnant with DD and spent my time watching Bette Davis movies on our portable DVD. LOL
 

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Yes! And I can't wait to do it again! I took my then 1 and 3 year olds on a 16 hour overnight train from L.A. to Albuquerque and it was so awesome! We had so much fun.

My only word of advice is bring warm blankets. It gets cold on those trains.
 

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We've done a 4 hour trip a few times, and wouldn't hesitate to recommend this way to travel over car or plane. A few thoughts: try to get the seats at the end. Often there is an empty spot for a wheelchair that is rarely used and is perfect spot for a tot to play on a blanket. I'm not generally worried about germs, but I always bring sanitizing wet towelettes (CleanWell or Purell) to clean the windows and arm rests--my son has his hands all over the place!
 

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One more thing: travel lightly! I do this in general anyways, but find that I'm extra careful when traveling by train. Often people will help you with your bags on and off, but you shouldn't count on it, especially depending on location and time of day. There are elevators to get you down to the track when the station is above, but they are not always in obvious locations and using the escalator isn't too bad. I find it easiest to wear my son, bring a tote bag/purse/diaper bag and 1 rolling bag. Thats all I can realistically handle by myself. You might see people bringing multiple pieces of giant luggage, but from my experience, those are generally folks who haven't traveled by train before and don't realize that they only have a few minutes to lug all of their stuff on/off the train!
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thanks for the great tips mamas. When your little ones are 2 are you getting them your own seat or letting them seat between you and dad? Amtrak seats are huge and we're wondering if we should get her own seat.
 

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I think you have to buy a seat when they hit 2? Maybe not for a LO who looks younger? I'd certainly stretch out the time without their own seat for as long as possible. That said, if you did get 2.5 seats, you'd be able to get a group of 4 seats together and that's nicer for sleeping.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Quote:

Originally Posted by sapphire_chan View Post
I think you have to buy a seat when they hit 2? Maybe not for a LO who looks younger? I'd certainly stretch out the time without their own seat for as long as possible. That said, if you did get 2.5 seats, you'd be able to get a group of 4 seats together and that's nicer for sleeping.

Yeah, we were thinking about stretching out the time without her own seat. I thought they only allowed those four seats for families of four? Good info. Thanks Sapphire Chan.
 

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Depends on if the train's crowded. Non-crowded trains they call for groups of 4 then 3 then 2 then kind of fit everyone else in.

One trip a mom and dd (10 year old) claimed a group of 4 seats for most of the trip until they were made to change because of needing the seats, but a nearby group of 3 wasn't asked to change at all. On a very full train I could see them sitting someone else with you, but that's fairly unlikely.
 

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I think the cost of a seat for our daughter would be well worth it. I only paid for 1 seat when my DD and I traveled togather. On the way there, we were lucky and didn't have anyone next to us so we enjoyed having 2 seats. On the way back we did not have that luxury and it was much more difficult.

I would highly recommend having a carrier. I had my ergo and it was really nice to be able to hold her in it while going to different cars. It does get pretty bumpy.
 

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The only thing worse than driving the NE Corridor around Thanksgiving? Taking Amtrak. And that was just the DC-Philly run. I love the train any other time, but the volume is so heavy that time of year. We often had to *stand* for the whole trip (and it was never the normal time--always longer) because we were students and bought unreserved seat tickets. I'm sure you'll have reserved seats, so that will make a difference, but bear in mind that there may be delays and huge volume.

On the other hand, if you have a laptop or handheld DVD player, you can plug it in (every seat row has outlets now!) and entertain kiddo when the windows lose their appeal.
 
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