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Everything You Need To Know About Train Travel With Kids (Tip: Pack Food)

Train travel seems magical from the outside (mainly thanks to Platform 9¾ at King’s Cross Station) and toying with the idea of traveling by rail for your next family vacation will lead you to affordable fares and a surprising number of serviceable areas in the US and Canada. But as any parent knows, traveling more than two hours with kids requires thoughtful planning. Train transport brings up a lot of unanswered questions when traveling as a family:

Is there food on board the train? If not, can we bring our own? What about bathrooms for the freshly potty-trained small humans? Is the inflight onboard wifi reliable enough for the teenager’s streaming needs? Can we bring the stroller along? How spacious is the train, and can we get up and walk around?

That’s where our handbook comes in. We documented the process of booking, packing, and boarding a train in hopes of popping the speech bubble over your head that’s filled with questions.

Read on for our tips about the food (underwhelming), the legroom (fantastic), the cleanliness (as expected), the delays (be prepared), and the entire process of boarding or exiting the train (easier than you think). Perhaps you’re one of those lucky Europeans who can’t imagine life without high speed trains that get you from London to France in just a few hours. We Americans may not have access to high speed train travel yet, but with more than 500 stations in the US and Canada, we’ve got options. And armed with our handbook, we’ll set you up for success.

Snacking in the cafe car

Travel by rail is affordable, fun, fits naturally into the life of transit-oriented families, and—perhaps most compelling—can be a more environmentally friendly option too.

SPOILER: pack your own food. At least until Amtrak starts serving In-N-Out or Shake Shack.

Read through our new handbook and see if train travel is an option for your next family vacation. It’s a memorable experience and you won’t have to wait to start your adventure—it begins the moment you step on board!

Read the Handbook: Train Travel for Urban Families

Want to dig in even deeper? Join our Travel group in our private community and hear train travel stories from other urban parents.