A child’s eyes light up when he or she spots a train chugging along the track. There are dozens of children’s books devoted to trains, ranging from the classic Little Engine That Could to the Thomas the Train phenomenon. Imagine how delighted a child would be to actually experience riding the rails.
Here are some ideas and tips for planning train travel for kids.
- Look for local tourist trains – If you aren’t yet up to a cross-country voyage or zipping to Europe with rail passes in hand, check for a nearby tourist train. Great Smoky Mountain Rail is a great choice, for instance, and they even host kid-friendly themed rides like A Day Out With Thomas and the North Pole-bound Polar Express.
- Take the commuter rail – Another quick trip is simply riding your local commuter rail into the nearest city. It’s short and sweet, but you can bet your kids will get just as much of a thrill from the ride. And isn’t this nicer than sitting in traffic while they whine?
- Look for a family rail sale – There are frequently hot deals offered for buying multiple tickets, and sometimes kids ride free. On the French rail, children 4 and under don’t pay. Amtrak has a great family-friendly train sale lasting until the end of this year.
- Take the train prepared – While train travel is fun, it isn’t always easy. In foreign countries and even the States, you may encounter train stations that aren’t stroller-friendly. Use these tips for strollers and stairs.
- Let the kids help plan – Use this opportunity to teach your children while traveling by letting them map out the route or calculate time and distances between stops.
The great thing about trains is they are family-friendly. Instead of cramped seating, you get more leg room and it’s easier to walk around. It allows everyone to enjoy the view, instead of mom or dad stuck watching the road. You can be sure your kids will get a rush out of riding the rails.