Traveling with children is always a fun but tricky situation because you never know what to expect or what to bring. Taking the train with kids is actually a great way to get around and see the countryside and our newest means of day-tripping as a family. So whether you’re going on a long or short ride, it’s best to prepare with some simple games and resources that will keep the whole family occupied & entertained.
While air travel comes with its own challenges because of ears popping and quick altitude changes, trains have different issues like longer sit times. So when the Amtrak Downeaster sent our family on the “Train to Maine” I wasn’t exactly sure how our little ones would take to it. But it was a marvelous time with kids.
Our family was kind of in a whirlwind the week of the trip so all the excitement and anticipation building I was going to do didn’t happen. And I didn’t have the time to make train bingo that week either.
So the next time we take the kids for a ride on Amtrak, we’ll be more prepared and be able to really harness the experience of riding the rails with our kids a little better.
What to Bring on a Train trip with kids
Especially if you’re going on a day trip and/or going to be using public transportation at your destination, pack light. It’s easier to maneuver and enjoy your time together. We did our trip on the Train to Maine with a backpack and a stroller and that’s it.
- Pack some snacks and bring some extra cash to buy treats at the cafe on board.
- Print off and bring my free Train Games printable that includes 4 train bingo cards, a scavenger hunt checklist, and instructions on how to play. This is especially helpful as preschool and toddler train travel ideas because it gives them something to do, but is actually engaging them in the experience rather than just watching a screen the whole time.
- Gather up some books all about trains and train travel with kids. Read them before you go and take one or two to read on the train.
What to expect when traveling on the train with a baby or toddler
- If you don’t have a super compact stroller, it may be a tight fit on the train itself. We have a standard size and it fit with barely a quarter inch to spare in the on-board cargo.
- You will have all the time and room in the world to walk the aisles.
- The bathrooms are spacious, especially compared to airplanes. So changing diapers and making trips to the potty are fairly easy.
- Everyone can sleep and get in a nap… which makes for a happy family on arrival.
- If in a hilly or mountainous region, you might experience popping ears with altitude changes, but it’s not going to be anything like flying and the gradual change is easier to adjust to.
All in all, taking the train with kids is a great way to enjoy yourself as a family and the perfect way to travel since you can enjoy family time instead of drive time or stressful flights and airport experiences.
Kara is an author, wife, and mother of 3 children living in Boston, MA. She has her degree in Secondary Education & Adolescent Childhood Development and is passionate about connecting with and even helping other parents on their journey to raise awesome kids!