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.

Girls in Roomette2. 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.

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 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.

Kids on Capitol Limited7. 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

 

 

10 comments
nhsmyk
nhsmyk

When we had our 2nd child airfare was absurd and my wife didn't like to take the kids on an overnight drive from Jax, FL to Harrisburg, PA so we tried the Silver Comet...WONDERFUL IDEA!  It's now our preferred way to visit family.  From Jax overnight to Penn Station in Baltimore then Enterprise Car Rental and a short drive up I-83 and we're there.  The girls look forward to the trip up AND back asking if we can do it again soon...maybe someday we'll head west.

ronaldo_scott
ronaldo_scott

You post regarding travel tips while with kids are very interesting. Even parents have to be always alert on trip while with parents. Some little things on travel visit are keep our children happy and safe. Really appreciate your post.

EvgeniZharsky
EvgeniZharsky

This is all good and well but I still can't understand why small/med dogs aren't allowed to travel with you on Amtrak. Most pets are much more well behaved than kids. If you can bring a small dog with you on a plane then why not on a train Amtrak? Absolutely asinine. This would have been one small bonus that would have differentiated trains from other modes of travel. I guess Amtrak will die off soon anyway so what does it matter

sno_cat
sno_cat

Concerning item 3. "Listen for the Horns"; the the last time I traveled it was the engineer who blew the horn; not the conductor. I have never heard a horn make a "choo-choo" sound.

JimLoomis
JimLoomis

I've been told by several car attendants -- and I've included this in my book "All Aboard-The Complete North American Train Travel Guide" -- that when traveling with small children, bring along their favorite thing, whatever out may be:  the proverbial tattered old "blue blankee", a stuffed animal, a favorite doll. Whatever the child grabs for when needing comfort. I've found that to be the very best advice.

Baloo Uriza
Baloo Uriza

One tip that's missing would be to take fussy kids and meltdowns to a dressing room (or on the Cascades talgos, the telephone vestibule) until you can get the situation back under control.  The rest of us don't want to hear it.

loomismaui
loomismaui

@EvgeniZharsky  You don't see the difference between traveling with a dog on a plane for three or four hours and traveling with that same animal on a train for two days? And on the basis of that, it doesn't matter to you if Amtrak goes out of business?? Well, many thanks for your contribution, Evgeni!

peaches 218
peaches 218

Deal with it. If you want quiet make sure you're in the quiet car. Apparently you were never a fussy child.

Baloo Uriza
Baloo Uriza

@peaches 218 No, just my parents set a good example on how to handle fussy kids.  It's not my fault yours raised you wrong, nor is it my fault you chose to have kids.  That's your problem, not the rest of the world's.

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