Train travel is an affordable alternative to flying! It is a great way to get around the Northeast with your kids. I found this article on Amtrak that outlines a few tips for traveling with your kids on the train.
A few additions to the Amtrak article that I saw in other articles or comments:
On Amtrak, children 17 and younger don’t need to produce identification to ride, but check the ID requirements whenever you’re preparing for a train trip. For instance, if you’re taking a train into Canada, you must have a passport or copy of the birth certificate for each child. All adults 18 and older must carry valid ID such as a passport or driver’s license.
Bring Along Your Kids Favorite Item
While this may be obvious, you will want to bring one or two of your child’s favorite toys or items to keep them company.
Choose Your Seats Carefully
If you can, choose a set of seats that are facing each other so your family can have a bit of space to stretch out on the trip. ALso, make sure you didn’t sit in a Quiet Car!
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TIPS FOR TRAVELING WITH KIDS ON AMTRAK
If you’ve decided to skip the traffic of the highways and long lines at the airports for your next family vacation, you’re smart. In fact, Amtrak even offers a 50% discount off train travel for your kids to make the decision even easier.
So if you’ve got the snacks, stroller, and stuffed animals packed, let us give you some last-minute expert advice. Here’s some important tips to remember when traveling with kids on Amtrak.
1. Know Your Reservation
If you’re just taking a quick day trip, you’ll likely have a coach reservation. This means you and your little ones can sit anywhere on the train. At some of our busiest stations, where customers queue on the platform, Amtrak staffers will ask passengers needing assistance and those with small children board first. Take advantage of this so you can sit together. If you’re going on a longer trip and have booked a sleeper car, your meals are included and juice, tea/coffee and water are always available to you. Go here for more information about our sleeper cars.
2. Lend a Hand
There’s no seatbelts on our trains. Older kids think this is awesome, but little ones need an adult guiding them through the aisles to ensure they stay upright. Also, shoes are required at all times for everyone’s safety. This also improves balance and grip when moving around the train. If you’re traveling with kids on a long distance trip, bring a comfortable pair of shoes that your tiny travelers won’t mind wearing.
3. Listen for the Horns
Part of the magic of traveling by train (for those young and old) is the iconic “choo-choo” sound. Kids love hearing train horns, and our engineers love sounding them. Prep your kids for the sound before they board for their trip. It will quickly become a fun game to listen out for the horn and “choo-choo” along with it. As a side note: If you’re traveling overnight or during your child’s nap time, be prepared for the horn to sound in the background. For most kids, this fades into the background early in the trip.
4. Pack Snacks & Games
There’s tons to see outside of the train windows, and your kids will love watching the scenery whiz by. One mom even said her kids totally ignored their tablets during her trip. Wow! Just in case, though, come prepared with snacks and entertainment. Before you leave home, download a train-themed movie for your little ones to watch while they ride the real thing!
5. Take Potty Breaks Anytime
Each train car has at least one bathroom, and most are equipped with a diaper station. So forget the hassle of pulling off at a rest stop, and enjoy the freedom of potty breaks anytime! If you have older kids who can go by themselves, there’s a trick to knowing whether the facilities are occupied. A light will illuminate when the restroom is being used and go out when it’s empty.
6. Arrive Early
Our staff is happy to help you and your family. Arrive at your station about 30 minutes ahead of time so you can get settled, snap some pics and watch the train pull in. Before leaving for the station, make sure to download our app for iPhone and Android phones and check your train’s status. If your kids are really curious, you can even access our live train map and track where your train is. It’s pretty cool, we have to admit.
7. Bring a Stroller for Free
Like turtle doves or your favorite shoes, your carry-on baggage should come in twos. Each bag can weigh up to 50 lbs. Please see an Amtrak agent or one of our (free!) Red Caps to help you check your additional bags. If you’re traveling with infants under the age of two, you’re also allowed items like strollers or diaper bags that will not count toward the carry-on limit.