She Says… Brilliance or Stupidity?

While sitting on the train yesterday I had a flash of brilliance. Or utter stupidity… I’m not sure yet.

We are planning to take a family vacation this summer to go visit my family in the Philadelphia area. My brother and sister-in-law are having their second baby, which will bring the cousin count to 5, all within a few years of each other. So fun! We discussed a group vacation to a destination (like last year’s family trip to the Cape), but budgets and time and the fact that the littlest cousin will likely be born in July dictated that we would meet at the most convenient spot — my older sister’s house with a pool! We’ve finally nailed down dates and I quickly did a search to see how much flights were going to be.

BOS > PHL round trip for the whole fam = $1,100

What in the…

Why in the world is it so expensive? First of all, we have to buy Owen a ticket since he will be over 2 by then. So that’s a BIG part of the cost. But really, Boston and Philly are SO CLOSE, why in the world does it cost nearly $400 a person to get there? I can fly to Vegas for far less. Heck, I could probably even get to Europe for less than that. Southwest and JetBlue are usually my go-to budget airlines, but they don’t fly directly between these 2 airports for whatever reason. Other, slightly cheaper options include stopping along the way, but that just seems ridiculous since the entire flight time is probably an hour or less.

My first thought: Well, OBVIOUSLY we have to drive. But y’all know how Owen does in the car. Carsickness. Agitation. Crying. Pleading. He’s gotten SO much better recently, even on longer trips (like to the zoo last weekend, we pushed 40 minutes and he didn’t fuss at all), AND he will be over 2 so his carseat can face forwards. BUT! Sticking the most active toddler ever in a seat for 8 hours, plus bathroom and food stops along the way? Kill me now. Maybe I’m being a little too dramatic, but the thought of driving that many hours with Owen in his current stage makes me cringe.

Which brings me to the idea I just came up with. What about taking the train?

Advantages:

  1. It’s cheap. Dirt cheap compared to flying.
  2. We don’t have to go through security or pay through the nose for parking. That means we can bring all of the food and liquids and strollers we want, with little to no waiting in line.
  3. Bathrooms and food are readily available.
  4. No “Fasten your seatbelt” sign. In fact, no seatbelts at all.
  5. Owen will be IN HEAVEN riding a choo choo. At least for the first 5 minutes. Train conductors stopping by every once in awhile? The kid will probably want their autographs.
  6. Scenery. I always take the train to New York instead of flying because it’s just. so. darn. beautiful.

Disadvantages? It’s still long. 6+ hours. But that’s still less than driving! Owen’s motion sickness could still be an issue, I’m not really sure. He won’t be riding backwards, which is a huge plus, but I will likely bring a few changes of clothes. For everyone.

Why don’t I hear about others taking the train with kids, or see toddlers running down the aisles normally? Is there something I’m not thinking of? Anyone ever tried this before?

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15 responses to “She Says… Brilliance or Stupidity?

  1. Ooh that sounds like a good solution! I don’t think you’re being overdramatic about an 8 hr drive AT ALL. We’re doing a 6 hour drive this summer with an 18 mo old and dreading it, and she doesn’t have the motion sickness problem!
    That said, I don’t think $1100 for 3 tickets is shockingly expensive. When we fly to Orlando to see family once a year, our tickets are about $600/person. Blah.

    We’ve never taken a train anywhere just because anywhere close enough to take a train vs drive, we’d have to rent a car when we got there.

  2. I feel for you both my kids get car sick, we do not go on any long trips, including planes without gravol, makes the trip a bit more bearable.

  3. nancyholtzman

    Trains are awesome for traveling with a baby or toddler – especially because you can nurse or feed said baby without needing to stop, and because you can entertain (or potty – not relevant yet for you) said toddler without interrupting your journey. And, dealing with parking, airport traffic, security all much easier. You can read books about trains ahead of time and begin setting expectations – e.g. yes you can do lots of walks between cars, but you probably won’t want to do that for four out of six hours (but Owen might…). We don’t run in trains. We use our inside voices in trains. We don’t throw up in trains. etc. :)

  4. If the train is a good budget option for you, I’d do it! It will be a lot easier on Owen and on you than driving, plus there’s something kind of soothing about a train. As a plus, when you get to the station, you can upgrade to a “sleeper” compartment or a day car for far less than it would cost to book it ahead of time. One of Amtrak’s dirty little secrets – and those private options may be why you don’t see toddler’s running up and down the train aisles often – a private area will allow him to nap, you not to worry if he spills his Legos all over the place, and just kind of takes the stress out of things. Enjoy your trip!

  5. We took Amtrak from Boston to Florida once and there were tons of kids running all over the place. No one seemed to mind. The other thing I thought about though – if Owen still gets carsick at all, you’ll just be stuck – no stopping at a rest stop… Good luck with whatever you decide!

  6. I would do it in a heartbeat! I wish we had that travel option to get to my in-laws in upstate New York. They live in a tiny little town on the border of Canada and the nearest train station to them is an hour away, nearest airport for a direct flight is 2.5 hours away! So instead, it’s a 7 hour drive — which obviously ends up being WAY more when dealing with babies and toddlers who need diaper changes, snacks, running around, etc. and mommies who need sanity breaks! I think the train is a brilliant idea!

  7. I think it’s an awesome idea! Liam’s obsessed with trains– I know he’d have a blast! I’m glad you found fare that’s reasonable. The few trips I’ve considered taking a train instead of flying, the fare was MORE expensive than a flight!

  8. so random, but have you tried the nausea bracelets with him? Or is he too young to put them on? my kiddo will forget he has things on his arms if he has a long sleeved shirt (he’s 14 months). So maybe that might help with the carsickness? I would totally do the train if it’s cheaper. For us, we often do nebraska to philly, so its way too much to do the train. But sounds like a better option for you guys!

  9. My sister has taken the train since my niece turned 2. They take a late train so my niece sleeps most of the way. It’s a lot cheaper. We haven’t done it with my son yet, but I would definitely go for it.

  10. Trains ROCK for toddlers/babies. Like you said, there’s the freedom, stuff to see, and just generally fun. We’ve done train (not for long) but we’ve also done boat instead of very long car drive or plane, and it’s been fantastic.

  11. Honestly, if this was an option for us, we would do it. Our options are 1. Fly or 2. Don’t visit family. It’s really been aggravating me lately that I’m totally at the whim of the airlines and their pricing (and even though Ryan is under 2, he has to have his own ticket… he will not sit on our laps for a 4-hour flight).

    I either deal with bad customer service, ridiculous fees and unreasonable costs – or I stay home. We can’t drive 3 days each way to see our families, so we are stuck. It’s so aggravating!! Anyway, I would totally look at all options available to you. I don’t think you’re crazy at all for considering the train. The cost of flying for three people is ridiculous!

  12. Do it! Maybe take an overnight train ride so he’ll sleep most of the way?

  13. These are such helpful comments!

    @nancyholtzman, I LOVE the “trains are not for puking” rule. Hahaha.

    @bagsrpacked, I have never heard of upgrading to a sleeper compartment. I will DEFINITELY be looking into this — thank you so much for the tip!

    @Laura, I have not tried the bracelets yet. I definitely should. I keep forgetting to look for a kid-sized one online, and of course I only think of it when we are getting in the car…

  14. DH and I have talked about the possibility of taking the train from MA to GA when our son is a little older (he’s a few months younger than Owen). We would definitely get a sleeper car if we were to do that.

    Another option for you might be to drive at night- that way Owen could sleep in the car. Might be a bit of a pain for you and Benjamin since one (or both) of you would have to stay awake, but definitely is cheap.

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