Tips for Traveling with Kids on Amtrak

Tips for Traveling with Kids on Amtrak

California Zephyr

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

You don’t have to stay in your seat the whole time! 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.

Kids on train4. 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 emty.

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.

Where are you going with your little ones? Tell us in the comments below!

Read More All Aboard!: Kids Travel at Half Price & Other Tips for Cheap Tickets

21 comments
stosher
stosher

. . :O   uh huh  √  Post a picture  .  If you can  :P   posted 10 am Hawai'ian time 16.11.30  •   

doylecade6
doylecade6

The blog is good enough, keep up writing such type of posts.

Jenny

stosher
stosher

. .tyvm ActivelyReading  .  Nooks ® and  Kindle Fires ® seem to be popular these days .  Several years ago all the kids were playing Nintendos DSes ® with each other in small VPNs ( Virtual Private Networks )   /s, a dad and his kids,  amtrak guest rewards members all ( 3D childrens' fold in origami attached ) . . .posted 16.11.04 7 pm HST . ps ; Don't forget to fall back  . . .

JessicaLynnKirschner
JessicaLynnKirschner

Well I leave on this Monday early in the morning with my one year old all the way to Poughkeepsie New York and I am scared because I'm trying to get up money for food and drinks because we will have really long lay overs in Chicago and I hoping praying I can get help with that. But my question is even though I am a coach reservation seat, do we still get at least one free meal for each night we are on the trains?

MirandaBeard
MirandaBeard

Hi! We traveled from KC to LA and back on the train just a few weeks ago with a 3 and 6 year old. If you are travelling coach, there aren't any free meals. And meals on the train in the dining car and cafe car are kind of pricey if you're pinching pennies. I'm talking $7 for a.kids Mac and cheese lunch or dinner.

What we did was take bottles of water and plenty of snacks with us. You can refill the bottles on the train so you only have to take a couple. We also had those water bottle flavor pouches you can get at supermarkets to flavor our water if the kids wanted to. We also planned to eat one meal in the dining car (dinner usually). You can get snacks in the cafe car, but again, the prices are higher than you would find elsewhere.

I would say to plan out your snacks depending on what your time on the train is going to be. We were on one full day and two nights, so we had plenty of granola bars, some fruit, Apple sauce pouches, etc. We even made home made lunchables with sliced deli meat, cheese slices and crackers in a cooler type lunch box.

Hope that helps!!

MelindaPalmer
MelindaPalmer

Traveling with the Family, us boring adults a 14, an 8, and a 9 month old from Omaha NE to the Wisconsin Dells.  My little one hates car rides so hoping this option will be perfect for my family.  Also we love trying new experiences and none of my children have gotten to ride a train.  So excited for the trip

MirandaBeard
MirandaBeard

Traveling with a 3 year old and 6 year old from KC to LA in a few weeks. I know we can take their car seat/boosters as checked luggage, but can we take the car seat on the train as a carry on and put it in the seat for my 3 year old? We were thinking that would keep him a little more safe on the train for over nights, but still have him up high enough where he could see out the windows when he wants to. 


Is this possible, or even advisable? Having never traveled by train before, this is a new experience for all of us! 

stosher
stosher

@MirandaBeard ..  July 16th 1 pm HAwai'ian time ≠  off hand ( i do not work for AMTRAK ® ) i would say " Yes. "  Ask the car attendant when you board  or better yet  , the station master in KC B4 you board .  You'll be boarding in the middle of the night ( slow - not crowded  ) any way and the train stops for 1/2 hour there .  They all have kids , too .  They smoke , too ,  No smoking on the train . AMTRAK ® just wants the kids to have shoes on their feet at all times , not to be ' feral ,'  ( i.e., screaming , runing around , crying , asking , " I like that Uncle .  Can i have that ?" ) you know, common sense type stuff .  Kids love the trains , especially downstairs in the Observation car . hth /s Dr. Dosh and ohana , Hawai'i ;) 

AmyCebik
AmyCebik

I was thinking about traveling from VA to Albany,Ny by train instead of driving as I have two children. Can I bring a double Bob stroller and car seat on the train with me? And I have 2 pieces of luggage does my 2.5 yr old get 2 pieces of luggage as well? Unfortunately the trains don't offer checked baggage so that will be interesting.

MichelleHeaton
MichelleHeaton

We have rented a Family Room on the Empire Builder for a round trip with an 8 month old baby. Any advice? We have not travelled with her before but she is a very good baby and always happy and friendly and curious. Anything we should know about the trip? 

stosher
stosher

@MichelleHeaton . .yup  . . try to figure out the time changes  . .  they probably will not tell you . .  you'll have acess to all the juice and coffee you can drink  . .  don;t be afraid to visit other parents in the lounge car . .  USE you car atendent . .they WANT to help you  . . .have a ball http://blog.amtrak.com/  <-- consult the other blogs . . check in everything you possibly can . .with a baby you'll want your hands free . . checking stuff in is ƒree  . . . . . https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Children's_Day_%28Japan%29 . .ther is no wi-fi in Montana . .cell phone : spotty . .take pictures . .use the Metropolitain lounge in both PDX and CHI  . . ( you haven't stated your embarcation point or ' de-training ' stop ) . .it's free with your roomette . . Frank's the attendant in PDX . .he's a good guy  ;)  hth   /s a dad and his ohana in Hawai'i •    :)

melihunbee
melihunbee

I am wondering about carrying on a car seat... I am visiting a place for a few days and my 3 year old needs a car seat and my 5 year old a booster; how does that work??

stosher
stosher

@melihunbee .. i believe it is counted as a piece of luggage . . and . . depending on where you board ( and dis-embark or ' de-train ' as they say ) . .it shouldn't be that much of a problem .  Try to check it in as luggage . That's mostly free . Check your station ( both of them , each end ) policies .  https://www.amtrak.com/baggage-policy  AMTRAK ® likes passengers and kids .  Unlike the airlines they will help you √ /s Steve , Hawai'i  •  1 800 USA RAIL is a 24 x 7 number . ..

Paul Everett Vinson
Paul Everett Vinson

My first railway journey was at the age of 8 months. I travelled in a Pullman sleeper with my mother out of Houston on the original streamlined "Texas Eagle" in the 1950's. So, I started as an infant train traveller.

Rwollen
Rwollen

Unfortunately, this has not been my experience. I am up in the middle of the night fretting about our next trip because it was so difficult and dangerous to get our one year old twins on and off the train. I was forced to board last, offered no help or advice as to how to safely get two barely-walkers and the tiny stroller they need up the stairs without leaving one of them dangerously stranded on the platform or in an open car. When trying to leave the train I was stranded on the empty car and told there was no way to get them down until a brave employee carried them dangerously down the stairs in their stroller so we could finally go home. They are not yet big enough to sit in seats by themselves safely. But there is no way to keep them in their stroller or car seats because the accessible spots are filled with baggage and we are not permitted to reserve one since we lack certification. I don't understand why this has to be so hard. I really don't want to buy a second car when there's a perfectly good train.

Jay_Miracle
Jay_Miracle

@Rwollen That sounds like a terrible experience!  I am so sorry.  I hope this is not typical and you are able to enjoy your next trip. 

As for getting help, sometimes you just have to wave your arms and bring attention to yourself.  I have found that often the train car attendants and folks working on the platform are always happy to help, but don't always recognize that I need that help. Grab someone, and explain what you need.  If you are going to be doing a lot of train travel with twin babies Id look into getting a CARES harness. They are designed for use on an airplane, but will work with train seats also, fit in your pocket or diaper bag and can be used to attach a harness similar to a car seat harness to the adult seat.  Our baby carrier backpack always comes in handy on the train when im trying to get kids and stuff up those little stair cases.   
On our last trip (just a few days ago!) there was a family who had their babies car seats attached to the train seat by way of tie down strap (through the carseat belt path and around the back of the seat!). I think if I were traveling alone with an infant Id do that next time!