Play: Our Amtrak Adventure

Exploring the train station
The kids and I had a fun little adventure riding the rails this week. We took the train to visit the grandparents a few hours away. It's not far to drive but we thought the train might be fun for them and it definitely was.

What to Pack: Patience, patience, patience
The railways are notoriously late around here. At least that's what I hear. And what we experienced. The train was a bit late leaving the station which put us behind from the get-go. But it was nothing a little chocolate milk from the train station cafe couldn't smooth over.

But then about 20 minutes into our trip we were stopped on the tracks for a "fire department incident." Luckily we were parked right next to the Puget Sound on a gorgeous, sunny morning. You can't say that when you're stuck in traffic on I-5, can you? After enjoying the view for a while, we started chugging along again and we were only about 45 minutes late in the end.

Don't let the delays scare you away from a trip on the train. You just have to go into it with the knowledge that things probably won't go exactly how you plan. But isn't that true of anything involving kids?

What to Pack: Food, Lots of Food
This leads me to what to pack #2 - food. My kids are much easier to bribe settle down when given food. The coloring books, toys, stickers, and games on my phone were great, but the food was better. We were nearing a melt-down when a kind woman sitting across from us offered the munchkins some fruit snacks. She was either being friendly or was trying to keep them quiet. But who really cares? It did the job and got them through the first of many near melt-downs. Food is key!

Other Advice
Since I was traveling by myself with two small children, two suitcases and a car seat I knew it would be easier to check the luggage and just worry about carrying the kiddos on. Well, I should have checked on this first. Some of the smaller stations are "unmanned" and don't have people to pull off the checked luggage. And our destination station, Olympia, had no men. Bummer.

Small children.
It was a little difficult getting on the train. I brought the luggage on. My husband handed me the kids. I plopped them down in the nearest seats and told them to stay put. Then I quickly put the luggage into the racks by the door. By then Grady was screaming for his Dada who he could see out the window and Finley didn't know what was going on. Chaos!

As soon as the dust settled I realized we chose the wrong seats - on the non-water side. Mistake #1. They also have seats with tables and 4-seater spots where the seats face each other. We didn't choose those. Mistake #2. I tried to move to a new section but by then the conductor had checked our tickets. And they wouldn't let me change seats after they checked the tickets. I tried, but they put me right back into our original seats. Too bad.
Trying out our table seats, which we were quickly removed from.
So my advice is to look for the best seats before you get settled. Even though they don't assign seats, the seats you pick become your assigned seats as soon as they check your tickets. It's probably not like this on all trains. Just ask one of the train employees.

Play, Stay Away or Just Okay
All in all, it was a great trip, even being outnumbered by kids and enduring a few delays. I give our Amtrak Adventure a Play rating. It's a somewhat frugal outing. You can usually find some great deals on Amtrak like this one. But even if you don't find any deals, kids are always 50% off the regular price. Our tickets were about $30 for a 90 mile trip. (But actually free since they were a gift from the grandparents! Thank you!) I'm not going to do all the calculations to determine if it's cheaper than driving, but I don't think it's a crazy amount to spend for a trip. Even if it is more expensive than driving, you're paying for the travel expenses and the train experience so overall it's a good deal.

Have you taken the train recently? Or have any plans to? I would love to take the kids on a bigger trip when they're a bit older. And this time I'll bring my husband along for a little extra help.

No comments:

Post a Comment