My sister and I recently took an eight-hour Amtrak train trip with my 2 and a half year old and my sister's 15 month old. For the most part it was a good trip...as good as a long trip with two toddlers can be. We chose to travel by train because it was almost half the price of traveling by plane. It was a little more expensive than traveling by bus, but with toddlers it helps to be able to get up and walk around, which is easier to do on a train than on a bus. So if you're planning to embark on a long train ride with your toddler, here are some tips to make your trip a little easier and enjoyable for both of you:
Dress your toddler in comfy, loose clothing for your train trip. You might want to have her all dressed up in her good clothes, with her hair all done, for when you disembark at your destination. However, keep in mind that it will be hard, if not impossible, to maintain your child's put-together look the whole train ride. Spills, diaper leaks, and naps where clothes get wrinkled may ruin your child's ensemble. So opt for a more comfortable outfit till the last leg of your trip, when you can change your toddler into her meeting-people outfit. Also, dress your toddler in layers so that you can adjust what she's wearing according to the train's temperature.
Pack Healthy Snacks
You might think that you can get your toddler to be quiet for a little while by having candy, chips, or other junk-food snacks available. However, they will only serve to give your child a sugar rush or, at the very least, empty calories. Instead, pack healthy, energizing foods. Pack a no-spill sippy cup with water, a juice box (juices specifically made for toddlers are ideal since they have no added sugar and are often watered down), some crackers or pretzels (whole grain is a plus), and some snack-able veggies and fruits. For some energizing protein, pack a tuna fish sandwich, some humus and crackers, or some cheese cubes. Try to set aside some money in the budget to have a meal in the snack car or dining car. The change of scenery will be good for your child.
Bring toys and activities
Toys and stuff to do are essential for a train ride with a child of any age, but especially for a toddler whose attention span is short. Bring along a familiar doll or toy for the comfort it will provide in foreign surroundings. For a long train ride, consider buying a new toy and only revealing it when your toddler gets really bored and needs a boost of fun. You'll also need some activities to keep your child occupied. Bring some of your child's favorite books. Crayons and a coloring book are also a good idea. An older toddler might like a chunky wooden puzzle to do. You know your toddler and his likes best, so pick an activity that can grab and hold his attention for a while.
If your toddler is potty trained
If your toddler is potty-trained, there are a few other tips you should know. Train bathrooms are small and cramped so you want to make trips to the bathroom as easy and quick as possible. Dress your toddler in easy-to-remove clothes for potty breaks. The train will be swaying back and forth while it is moving, so try taking your child to go when the train stops at a station. Bring along a portable potty seat (the kind that fits over an adult toilet) if your child uses one. Finally, and this depends on what point you're at in potty training, you might want to put training pants on your toddler just in case in all the excitement she forgets to tell you she has to go, or in case she's too scared to go in the train bathroom.
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