This is off topic from my usual posts; however, it is information I am excited to share. Before this trip, I searched the internet and asked friends about experiences they had taking tweens (children between ages 10-12) on a long train ride. It has always been a desire of mine to take my daughters through the mountain offering views they could never experience riding in a car or taking a flight high above the clouds. But, before I committed to a forty hour train ride, I was hoping to gather thoughts and stories from people who had taken this journey before us. The information I gathered was sparse, so I decided to devote a blog post on lessons learned and adventures gained from our Amtrak summer trip.
We packed a few games:
These could be played in our seats or the lounge car. The lounge car had tall windows which allowed great views of passing scenery. It also had tables wide enough for people to sit and play games.
Game time in lounge car on Amtrak
High windows in the lounge car offered a great view
The lower level of the lounge car has drinks and microwave type food ready to be purchased. It is also important to note you can bring your own food. We brought muffins for breakfast and went to this lounge car to eat.
Lounge car items available for purchase
I was a bit intimidated getting onto the train. I was carrying a heavy suitcase. The staircase we had to go up was narrow and had a tight corner. It was challenging for me to get up these stairs with my game bag and suitcase. Yet, once we made our climb it was nice and open. The seats are wide. They recline and offer a footrest. Bags are kept above the seat like on an airplanes. I was glad we took small pillows and blankets to add comfort during the night. My children were delighted to see outlets in each row to keep electronic devices charged. Only a few stations we pulled into offered internet.
The general seating area on the second level of the Southwest Chief Amtrak train
General boarding seats are not assigned until you get onto the train. Once you sit down, they come around and put a slip above your chair with the code of the station where you will depart. This allows the crew to know who should get off when. The station names are called until the evening. At this time, no announcements are made until the next morning which allows you to sleep. If you have a stop during the night, someone comes around to wake you and let you know it’s time to leave.
There were not many stops long enough to get out and walk around. Albuquerque, NM was our favorite stop where we stepped out for fresh air. They had a market which carried things like necklaces, earrings, blankets and dream catchers. On our way home, we picked up a few souvenirs from here. Not having many long stops was not a problem because of the freedom to walk throughout the train.
On the way back, we reserved a sleeping car. The cost was so high we could only afford it one way. I hope you are able to try this. It was great. The only drawback was it seemed much louder on these cars, yet the privacy was nice. These rooms are considered “all-inclusive”. There is a shower room in the lower part of the car with soap and towels available. A crew member greeted us before we boarded the train and helped carry our luggage up the stairs and turned down our beds in the evening. Meals in the dining car are also included with these rooms. Reservations are made a day in advance.
Reservation card for meals in the dining car
I am a foodie and let me tell you: The food is really good! I was expecting decent at best, heated trays. Breakfast and lunch meals ranged from $7-$13. Kids’ meals were also available. Supper was anywhere from $16-$26. Again, these meals are included in the price of a room.
The dining car is set up like a real restaurant
My favorite meal was the Mahi-Mahi dinner
My girls picked the steak dinner. Their dad should be proud.
The triple chocolate mousse won out as our favorite over the cheesecake
We saw many beautiful sights through mountains and plains while traveling halfway across America.
View of a distant house from the train’s window.
It was fun to watch our train following us on tight curves
It was hard to pick out one sunset or sunrise picture. They were all breathtaking
It is my opinion that when you hear the conductor call out “All Aboard”, gather your family and jump on-board for experiences you would otherwise never be able to gain and a journey you’ll never forget.
Take a train trip and let me know about your adventure
“Travel, in the younger sort, is a part of education; in the elder, a part of experience.”
Francis Bacon, Sr. quotes (English Lawyer and Philosopher. 1561-1626)