Long trip on coach with kids?

Discussion in 'Amtrak Rail Discussion' started by kef771, Apr 11, 2019.

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  1. Apr 11, 2019 #1

    kef771

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    Hi all! I’m planning a New Orleans to Boston trip just me and my 2 kids (10 years old and 6 months old). But we can only afford coach so far based on the prices I’m seeing. We would have 2 seats next to each other and from the pictures, it seems the seats recline enough to sleep. Is this accurate?
    Also, I’ve seen discussions about crazy good deals on sleeper/roomettes on other discussions. Any idea how to search these out? I know it would be a wonderful experience with a roommette, just nervous about coach, so any suggestions on finding a deal on a room, sleeping in coach, or surviving a 38 hour ride with kids welcome. Thanks!!
     
  2. Apr 11, 2019 #2

    Maglev

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    I don't think you are allowed to occupy a Roomette overnight with more than two people. There is a website called "Amsnag" where you can search a range of dates for the best fare. I recommend buying as soon as possible to guarantee your space, and for sleepers you can get a (at least partial) refund if the fare goes down.
     
  3. Apr 11, 2019 #3

    AmtrakBlue

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    I think she can do 3 in a roomette since one of them is a baby.
     
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  4. Apr 11, 2019 #4

    bretton88

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    You are allowed up to 3 in a roomette, but usually have to call to make it will. However, I don't think a 6 month old needs a ticket, so it wouldn't matter anyways.
     
  5. Apr 11, 2019 #5

    pennyk

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    Here is a link to Amsnag: http://biketrain.x10.mx/amsnag2.0/amSnag.php

    If you phone Amtrak, I am almost positive you can book 2 children and one adult in a roomette.

    I cannot comment on riding in coach from NOL to BOS with 2 children. I would not do it alone or with 2 children.
     
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  6. Apr 11, 2019 #6

    Just-Thinking-51

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    Don’t forget to sign up for the Amtrak Guest reward program. Even if you don’t want / need a credit card you can still sign for a AGR.

    I agree with the above. Travel by sleeper is best, you could do Coach but the door would make your night much more relaxing. No worry’s of your 10 year heading for the snack car while your sleeping.
     
  7. Apr 11, 2019 #7

    dcwldct

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    Just don't go into it expecting to be well-rested when you get to BOS. Best-case scenario is that your kids are deep sleepers who can sleep anywhere and they will be less tired and cranky than you upon arrival. A few generic tips for sleeping in coach.
    -Earplugs are basically required (think about getting some of the kid-specific ones for the 10yo). Most of the middle of the night stops on 20 will have very few passengers getting on and off, but CLT and GRO can be pretty noisy and hard to sleep through.
    -Sleep mask
    -neck pillow
    -Drugs! (melatonin, benadryl, tylenol pm, etc)

    I have always gotten sleeper on the Crescent northbound, but due to the slightly later departure and shorter trip I have ridden CLT-ATL several times in coach.

    The baby is the wild card. I've never taken a long train journey with a child under 5.
     
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2019
  8. Apr 12, 2019 #8

    Michigan Mom

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    Kef, anything is possible but with a 6 month old I would think about waiting about 6 more months for a trip like this. And I'm speaking as a veteran mom traveler with 2 kids. They're older now, when they were little I took them on quite a few trips without anyone to help me and again, anything is possible, it's just that with a very young baby there is so much more to consider. You would definitely want the roomette, with you and baby in the lower berth and the older child up top, you do not have to book 2 rooms. What I would suggest before attempting a trip of this duration, is to try a shorter distance trip in coach and see how it works with your baby.
     
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  9. Apr 12, 2019 #9

    Devil's Advocate

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    ^ This...THIS...THIS!

    I recommend this even when someone is planning to travel in a sleeper without a baby. None of us can know how you or your children will react to a long distance coach ride. Better to try a shorter trip in person to see how things work firsthand. That way you can see what to expect before you're locked into a long trip.
     
  10. Apr 18, 2019 #10

    kef771

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    Thanks everyone!! I’m wondering if there’s a way to upgrade to sleeper on the train if we wimp out? Or is it even more expensive then? I checked and they’re definitely not booked (yet anyway).
     
  11. Apr 18, 2019 #11

    kef771

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    Yes, that would definitely be ideal. But it’s a trip for a special occasion coming up in a month so no real way to try it first.
     
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  12. Apr 18, 2019 #12

    v v

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    I'd do it as I think you would get a fair amount of consideration from the onboard staff and other passengers. Roomette it has to be as you'll have a calm quiet place when you need it, your 10 year old will have the adventure of their life, and you have the right attitude too.

    Good luck to you, hope if you do it you'll write of your experience
     
  13. Apr 18, 2019 #13

    ehbowen

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    Believe me, an overnight in coach is do-able with the 10-year-old, especially if it's just one night...but throw the 6-month-old into the mix and I would very strongly encourage upgrading. You get privacy, real walls around your compartment, the ability for you (and the kids) to lay down flat and sleep whenever you need to (you can always use the upper berth, even if the lower is made up for daytime travel), plus you get your meals included. It won't get any cheaper if you wait until you're on the train to upgrade, and if you do it now then you'll have the use of the first class lounges in New Orleans, New York/Washington (whichever you choose to make your connection), and Boston.

    First class on a plane means you get a bigger seat and something resembling a meal. First class (sleeper) on a train is literally the difference between night and day; it's a much bigger comparative jump between the two. I encourage you to take the plunge if at all possible.
     
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  14. Apr 18, 2019 #14

    caravanman

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    My take on this is different to most posters. I feel there is no reason why you should not take the trip in coach.
    Yes, the seats recline fairly well, you can set up little "camp" for your family, the space between seat rows is massive! Bring stuff to entertain the 10 year old, books, dvd player, laptop, you know what they like. Food prices and quality are an issue on Amtrak, I would look at bringing a small cooler with some food from home. Although I live in the UK, I have done many thousands of miles in coach on Amtrak, and have seen many folk with young kids and babies managing quite well. A roomette fare to NYP and coach seats onward to Boston show up at $599 on a random 14th May, and coach all the way costs $262 for the same date. Do be aware that midweek fares tend to be less than at the weekend... If you can be a little flexible with dates, it can save some cash. If you can afford a roomette, that is great, with meals included, but if not, please don't be put off taking coach.
    Good Luck!
     
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  15. Apr 19, 2019 #15

    chakk

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    Sleepers often sell out on this train well in advance, so I would guess your chances to upgrade to a sleeper enroute would be between slim and nil.
     
  16. Apr 19, 2019 #16

    BCL

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    Every passenger is supposed to be declared though - especially for a long-distance train. It's not like air travel where some airlines allow lap infants to be declared at the gate. I've included my kid under 2. Name didn't show up on the ticket (did after turning 2) but when I arrived the conductor clearly noted that I was an adult with an infant. I was even given an empty seat next to mine - I suspect intentionally.
     
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  17. Apr 19, 2019 #17

    crescent2

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    Lots of good replies here, but I'll add my two cents' worth.

    No surprise, but a roomette would definitely be preferable if you can possibly afford one. It would be worth changing your dates a day or two to get a lower price, if that is a possibility. Keep in mind, though, a roomette is a very small compartment, but you can spend some time in the lounge during the day. The advantages are the privacy, the BEDS, and also the included meals for all of you. The meals offset part of the cost.

    Most people would find one overnight in coach doable with a ten-year-old, but I agree the baby complicates the mix. I don't know how strictly you're trying to stay on budget, but with a baby in arms I would caution against trying to bring too much "stuff" with you. I have three children, adults now, but even with the older child to help, managing to carry a baby and all those needed items, your purse, plus luggage is a lot. And you'll want to bring something to help occupy the ten-year-old's time when the train fascination wears off. (Time passes slowly for kids.) I'd suggest just planning to eat meals in the dining car or cafe if at all possible. You could still bring a few snacks for the kids. I guess I'm just trying to say adding food for meals and a cooler to all that would be more than I'd want to wrangle, not to mention the hassle of eating at your seats. If both children are being little angels, it might not be a huge problem, but they aren't always little angels, LOL. I know the ten-year-old can carry some things, though, but "less is more" sometimes. As a mom you certainly already know all of this, but just don't overlook it in the excitement of planning the trip.

    I would definitely let Amtrak know that you will have the baby with you even if an extra ticket isn't needed. My husband had significant mobility limitations and the Amtrak staff were usually very considerate of that. On Amtrak, though, it's unfortunately hit or miss so YMMV for sure.

    One more thing--I'm not temperature sensitive, but on my last Amtrak trip, the car was freezing. I took my nightgown from my bag and wrapped up in it. I wasn't the only one pulling out clothing, so keep that in mind.

    I think overall this will be a great trip and will certainly be one of those "Remember that time we...!" things twenty years from now. You seem to have the right laid-back attitude, so go with the flow and enjoy. Just have reasonable expectations and make sure your older child is prepared for a l-o-o-n-g train ride.
     
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  18. Apr 20, 2019 #18

    spinnaker

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    I would also like to add that a train can be a very hazardous place for children. I saw a little one being launched down the stairs to the lower cafe section of the SSL on a trip on the EB. Fortunately the tilke was bruised, shaken and scared but otherwise not hurt. It is going to be a challenge carrying a baby and watching the 10 year old. The good news is that most kids 10 can manage for themselves and don't need to have their hand held every minute just a reminder from mom every now and then to hold on as they move about the train.

    One thing for sure the 10 year old will have a great time. What an adventure and what great memories to last a life time. ;)

    And I would like to add my vote for a roomette. If not just for mom's sanity sake. ;) Perhaps it is because I am an older and taller than average male but one night for me in coach isa almost unbearable. ;)
     
  19. Apr 23, 2019 #19

    kef771

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    It’s official. We’re doing this, and in coach. 10-year old is sooo excited. I’m just wondering how breastfeeding and sleeping with the baby will go, but it’ll all work out. Will definitely try to do some sort of trip report. One month . :)
     
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  20. Apr 23, 2019 #20

    Rasputin

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    I hope you have a great trip. Some years ago my wife travelled with our two small children overnight in coach from Boston to DC and from DC to West Virginia and they did fine. My son who was about 4 or 5 was very excited to see New York city even though it was about 3 am (can't recall being told if he was awake at that time or if his mother woke him up since it was something he really wanted to see.) Be prepared for the fact that you will probably get less sleep than the children.
     
  21. Apr 23, 2019 #21

    Michigan Mom

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    Have a great time! For me, it was easiest to travel with a nursing infant - much easier than the toddler stage. Baby can't walk away! All you need is a good blanket and you're good to go. I did it on planes - what a lifesaver. No earache on takeoff or landing. No running out of food :) No fussiness either. On a train will be even easier than flying. Since you're in coach plan on having enough water bottles to quench the intense thirst you get while nursing. I strongly recommend not drinking the "potable" water and you'll save $$ bringing your own. Enjoy these times with your little ones. You'll blink and one day they will be oh.... 16 and 22....
     
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  22. Apr 23, 2019 #22

    Rasputin

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    Yes a blanket is a great idea. Also a pillow, some snacks, and maybe a sleep mask for you.
     
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  23. Apr 23, 2019 #23

    v v

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    Bon voyage.
     
  24. Apr 24, 2019 #24

    ehbowen

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    There are changing tables in the downstairs restrooms, and as per the other thread here there may be a "women's lounge" downstairs which offers a bit of privacy as well. Have a great trip!
     
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  25. Apr 24, 2019 #25

    Ryan

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    She’s on the Crescent, which is a single level train that has no downstairs. ;)
     

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