May 8, 2012

All Aboard!

Amtrak’s Q & A On Family Train Travel

By New York Family

vacays are a must for families: the memories, the photos, the smiles on your
kids’ faces. But, as any parent knows, it can be a huge hassle to get you, your
family and all of your belongings to your destination in one piece and
meltdown-free. Where to turn? Train travel offers an excellent option for parents where
the ride itself is actually part of the entertainment. In conjunction with
Amtrak’s National Train Day, New York Family spoke with Cliff Cole from Amtrak about why a
train trip is a great idea for your family this summer. Here’s the scoop. — 

1. What is it that makes train travel
an especially good option for families?

convenience of train travel is something Amtrak always talks about. When we say
“convenience”, we mean no long check-in lines, confusing airports, being able
to leave your seat during the trip to walk around [and explore] and being able
to leave your car at home and not pay the exorbitant parking prices. All these
factors combined make it so that train travel has become an attractive option
to families.

What are the primary considerations that should go into planning a train trip
for your family?

varies] depending on your destination. If you are going to travel long distance
– cross country for example – book as far in advance as you can because you’ll
have to reserve coach seating AND a sleeper
car. If you are going to be traveling with your family across the border [to Canada,
for example], make sure everyone has the appropriate documentations and ID they
will need. Utilize the 1-800-USA-RAIL system for any questions you might have –
or visit

can parents ensure the smoothest ride for their family? Should
they bring snacks? Is there adequate space for napping?

on where you are traveling, the seats are big enough that you can have a child
nap next to you. There are café cars – which have snacks and beverages for
kids. But one of the nice things about train travel is that kids actually enjoy
the ride itself: the movement of the train, looking out the windows, interaction
with the conductor and staff and walking the cars. But be sure to bring things
to keep them busy if you are taking a really long trip.

What are some of the best destinations for families looking to plan a trip out of
New York City?

you travel to upstate to Upstate New York and the Hudson Valley, Amtrak works with the I Love NY organization up there. So in the summer
time, there are tons of fairs and events. And Amtrak even has deals on tickets.
If you are traveling long distance one of the popular things is the “auto
travel.” You and the family get in the car and drive to Virginia
where the entire car and its contents are loaded onto the train to ride to Florida.
Once you arrive, you simply drive your car off the train and find yourself
right outside of Disney.

What are your top train travel tips?

There is a two-bag limit per ride, so go to to
make sure you’re bringing the appropriate amount of luggage and nothing gets
left behind. And if you are traveling with young kids, make sure to arrive at
least 20 or 30 minutes before your train departs so that you’re not rushing.
Most of the stations are not complicated, but if you have little kids it can be
slow moving and you don’t want to stress about missing your train.

And be sure to check out Amtrak’s National Train Day this Saturday, May 12 at Grand Central for kid-friendly fun, including train demos and tours, arts & crafts, performances by the Bari Koral Family Rock Band and Radio Disney.

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