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Made in us
Longtime Dakkanaut





Denison, Iowa

My son is turning 10, and has always had a thing for trains. At the same time, I am wanting to take our family on a vacation. As I live relatively close to an Amtrak station, I was thinking renting a family suite and heading west from Omaha to San Fransisco. This will allow a bit of relatively unplugged family time without needing to worry about drving while also giving us all one of the most beautiful scenic tours of the US.


I was just wondering what other people's experiences are, and if spending 45 hours on a train each way would be worth it.
   
Made in ca
Pustulating Plague Priest






Haven’t been on many trains, but I have taken family road trips. Speaking as someone who was quite young at the time, 45 hours is quite a bit if you intend to spend the entirety of the time in transport. I think the most we ever did per day was around 8 hours of driving. Mind, I’m not entirely sure how comparable train trips can be to road trips.

Are there any landmarks you can visit on the way to break up the trip? Perhaps train museums?

This message was edited 2 times. Last update was at 2021/12/01 14:35:30


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Made in us
Fixture of Dakka





 cuda1179 wrote:
My son is turning 10, and has always had a thing for trains. At the same time, I am wanting to take our family on a vacation. As I live relatively close to an Amtrak station, I was thinking renting a family suite and heading west from Omaha to San Fransisco. This will allow a bit of relatively unplugged family time without needing to worry about drving while also giving us all one of the most beautiful scenic tours of the US.


I was just wondering what other people's experiences are, and if spending 45 hours on a train each way would be worth it.


I've done it once and quite enjoyed it. FAR more than I'd enjoy driving. You just have to have a good set of books or something, but being able to wander around and take the time to really do things is a lot more liberating than traveling by car or plane.
   
Made in gb
Fresh-Faced New User




I took the train from Vancouver to Jasper (about half the time that you propose) and it was great. I wasn't in a cabin, but a wide seat and would thoroughly recommend the experience.

The slow feel of the journey and the scenery outside were fantastic going across both the urban and rural environments.

As for renting a suite, I reckon it could work either way. I know with my boys of similar age, I would be really tempted by having our own room, but wonder if that would take away part of the experience.

Is it worth considering a seat one way and suite for the return? Obviously that is a consideration for you and what you are looking for out of the trip. It might be that dining car and any observation deck give you enough of the experience time and the 2 days onboard in a seat may prove a bit much!

There is something magical about train travel with the lack of strain on you when you are doing it purely as an end in itself, rather than struggling with timings and commuting.

Have fun!
   
Made in gb
Decrepit Dakkanaut




UK

I've never done 45 hours but I've done fairly long trips in the UK and personally I've always enjoyed train travel (why the heck the UK still charges a fortune for train travel is one of my great annoyances).

As Fig says above, its low stress travel. Esp if you're basically sitting on just the one train so there's no connection worries or such. You just sit back and let the train do the work and you get there when you get there.


That said I like reading books/mobile game consoles and such. So even when the window doesn't entertain me I can find things to do whilst on the train. Kids might well need distractions like games/films/tablets/books/ereaders etc... Indeed one bonus of having a suite to yourself is that your kids can muck around a bit and even burn off a little steam now and then without annoying others on the train.

Plus as you are travelling as a group you can always chat to each other and such.


I'd say the only thing you might miss out on with a suite is talking to others whilst on the train.


But yeah its very different to driving or flying. Trains give you leg room! And for you and your wife it means no long hours at the wheel and added stress of having to spot fuel stations; deal with unfamiliar roads; getting lost; traffic jams slowing you down etc...

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Made in us
Battlefield Tourist




MN

I took a train from Mpls to New Orleans. The train from MPLS to Chicago was great. After that, it was not so nice. I just had a wide seat and no cabin.

I spent 8 hours sitting motionless on the tracks in the industrial district of Jackson MS. That was..... not pleasant. Most of the train ride was staring at dirt embankments along the route or thick woods so close that they were just a motion-sickness inducing blur.

However, I have heard wonderful things about train travel going West. I just wouldn't recommend going South on the train.

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Made in us
Lead-Footed Trukkboy Driver





I spent 24 hours on a train going to New Mexico once, and it was honestly pretty enjoyable. I’m happy as long as I have some cell connection, headphones, and something to eat though.

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5th God of Chaos (O'rly?)





Longest i have had was 12h one way. Followed by 9h back after about 4 hours. On long distance like that prefer train over driving for sure.

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Made in pl
Regular Dakkanaut




From Warsaw to Caucasus mountains in Ukraine, then Crimea and back. Absolutely ugly Ukrainian trains but really cheap for us- students then. You kind of start feeling at home on the train after 24 hours I definitely prefer trains to buses or cars and, unless a flight is required I always choose them.

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 2021/12/02 20:37:04


 
   
Made in us
Daemonic Dreadnought





Eye of Terror

Used to take long train rides all the time.

Portland to Seattle on the Dreamliner gives you great views of Mt. Rainer and scenic forests. While it's not as long as the trip you are thinking about, I did it with my daughter at age 10. She had a blast, it was one to remember.

We took the SNCF from Paris to Copenhagen a few years ago, transferred to a Russian train in Cologne. The whole thing was a little dated, the entrances were non-digital and controlled with these big plastic keycards. She had a blast playing with the features of the train, there was so much there that was unfamiliar. That was a long train ride, we spent a lot of time going slowly over the tracks. Seeing the night sky over the countryside was charming.

   
Made in gb
Ridin' on a Snotling Pump Wagon






Was gonna ask “define long distance”…..then saw 45 hours.

Most I’ve done is up to see me Dad, which is around 6 or 7 hours, including changing trains.

What I will say is that if you can afford a family cabin? Absolutely do it.

Travelling by train is pretty relaxing, and due to scenery I’d argue more interesting than flying.

As a bit of a poncey snob when given the choice, I travel First Class. It’s really not that expensive if I book far enough in advanced, and the carriages tend to be quieter, let alone the extra comfort.

The last time I travelled to see Dad without going First Class, I was off to see Mumsy in her dying days. I ended up with some unpleasant human that reeked of, well, I’ll say BO and stale cigarette smoke, not so much sat next to me, as using me as a cushion. I’m sure you can appreciate that was very unpleasant.

So if you can get a family room type thing, do it!

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Made in us
The Conquerer






Waiting for my shill money from Spiral Arm Studios

I have taken the Amtrack from Denver to San Fransisco. It is an amazing experience, and honestly quite affordable even if you go first class. Plus unlike airplanes you can get real food on a train and the seats can actually fit normal human beings. If you are down with the extra time, I would definitely recommend the train.

Get some audio books and watch the scenery go by.

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Made in us
Longtime Dakkanaut





Myrtle Creek, OR

About 20 years ago, my wife and daughters (7 & 9 at the time ) and I took the train from Chicago to Denver near Christmas. We had recently married and it was my first time meeting her family since we lived so far from them.

Weather delays plagued the trip (train departure and some stops enroute) so we arrived much later than our plans.

We had a sleeper car for part of the journey. Smelled of urine and there was urine on the floor. It got taken care of but it wasn’t great to deal with especially on our first big trip as a family.

At one point while we were riding in the general area, an elderly lady very politely asked a staffer about the next town/stop. As in ‘Excuse me, Sir. Insert reasonable question here’.

The guy asked “What is your name?”
She said it was Ann.
“Princess Ann would like a schedule,” He said and then took a sharpie and wrote Princess Ann’s Schedule on a schedule and handed it to her. I almost wondered if the Candid Camera crew was going to pop out. We still talk about the surreal experience.

My wife wrote a complaint letter (piss in the sleep compartment and Princess Ann made the final version) and the reply was an offer for a fractional discount on our next trip. Kinda like getting offered a half price pizza from the place that caused you to get your stomach pumped.

We never tried it a second time.

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Made in au
Anti-Armour Swiss Guard






Newcastle, OZ

I did Sydney to Perth by train once.

(It was during a national pilot's strike, so air was out, and I had to get to Perth for a Will reading.).
About 65 hours. Across the country, East to west. Most of this country is flat. Dead flat, and the same colour of reddish brown.

Thankfully, I got to fly back (by that time, the federal government had called in the air force cargo fleet to move stranded passengers and I flew back to Sydney in a C-130. )

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Made in us
Exalted Beastlord




Better than flying. I did Boston to...roughly Baltimore on regular basis for holidays for a few years.

Amtrak's relatively decent and spacious. Don't count on unplugged time, though, since they're wireless enabled. Expect random delays for no apparent reason (my favorite is a fire within a couple miles of the rail means the train can't travel. That happened to me... three times, I think?)

45 hours from Omaha to SF seems extraordinarily long to me, so I'm guessing extremely scenic?
(I've done roughly that trip in a dawn to dusk drive)

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 2021/12/02 17:48:04


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Made in us
5th God of Chaos! (Yea'rly!)




The Great State of Texas

45 hours on a train? As a child I would have leaped out the rail car. As an adult I would slowly flop out the rail car to freedom. I'll drive for a week but 45 hours on a train thats like airplane hell that never ever ends.

My longest trip was an Oktoberfest supper ride from Austin to a nearby town at night. Great food and beer, but on the way back I wanted to punch myself in the head to deaden the pain.

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 2021/12/02 20:15:27


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Poisonous Kroot Headhunter





I agree with Frazzled, careful to not put your kid off of trains haha.

Longest journey I've done was 21 hours going from Montreal to Halifax and it was wonderful.

Never been on a train that needed to stop to refuel before, quite the experience!

In the UK you can be on a train for six or so hours and go from Edinburgh to London, feels quite quaint by comparison!
   
Made in gb
Fully-charged Electropriest





Northumberland

From a UK perspective, trains are one of the worst things imaginable if you have a place to be and have to make it on time. I despise train travel in the UK, it's a complete farce of a pile of bollocks. I used to travel by train a lot for various work things, never been more stressed and angry.

On the other hand, if you don't have a time concern and you live in a less idiotic country, I think you'll be fine.

45 hours seems like a long time but it's less than 2 days and you'll be sleeping for some of it. Take boardgames and I'm sure there's wifi when you aren't staring out the window.

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Made in gb
Decrepit Dakkanaut




UK

 Olthannon wrote:
From a UK perspective, trains are one of the worst things imaginable if you have a place to be and have to make it on time. I despise train travel in the UK, it's a complete farce of a pile of bollocks. I used to travel by train a lot for various work things, never been more stressed and angry.


I love when the online train booker gives you about 2 mins between your train arriving and the next train leaving whilst letting you arrive at one of the bigger train hubs. Ergo you get off the train and you've got 9 platforms or more and no clue where to go and no time and that assumes your train made it on time. Missed a fair few trains that way over the years and had to wait for the next one. My only stress at those times would be if it was a weekend and I'm ending up toward the "last trains of the day" time.


That said yeah if it were for a business meeting or such I'd be more annoyed. Though I find the biggest annoyance with the UK system is the prices. If you don't pre-book through a dozen different websites 6 months in advance then you pay a fortune to travel by train; at least if you are travelling anywhere outside of the London network. A group of friends going by train for any decent distance and you're almost at the point where a dirt cheap second hand car is almost the same cost as the tickets!

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Gargantuan Gargant




Italy

I never traveled by train for more than 5-6 hours, but I never drived for longer either. Between driving and taking a train for such distances, let alone 45 hours journeys, I'd choose the latter with no hesitation.

But I'm not someone who really enjoys driving, to me it's just a necessity.

 
   
Made in gb
Ridin' on a Snotling Pump Wagon






As for WiFi? If your streaming services include a download to watch offline option? Probably worth loading that up.

Most trips I’ve done it’s been fine, but on others the WiFi is buster. Yes I can do 4g, but once you hit countryside coverage comes and goes.

And a genuine plea as a childless passenger? Please bring enough stuff, in a decent variety to keep them entertained. Kids are gonna kid, and there’s nothing more irritating than a bored kid belonging to a feckless adult that lets them run riot.

Worst example? I’d been stuck late at work on an exceptionally stressful phone call (the sort of person who never listens, refuses to get to the point, and after any question just explains the whole thing again, from the beginning). I was tired. I was hungry. I was trying to get to the pub to get some socialising in.

Train ran late. Train was packed. And for every torturous second of the 50 minute journey? A tiny kid, probably no more than 4, with an incredibly irritating squeaky voice just. Would. Not. Shut. Up. Loudly exclaiming “Mummy looooooooooook” at everything the train passed. Then singing nonsense songs. The odd bout of random noises.

It was not what I needed. I absolutely do not blame the kid. They’re a kid. That’s what kids do. But the parents could at least have tried to reign it in a bit. Instead they just looked on adoringly as their hellspawn irritated the rest of the carriage.

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[MOD]
Anti-piracy Officer






Somewhere in south-central England.

I took the overnight sleeper from Moscow to Leningrad in 1979. I can't remember how long it took exactly. Each carriage had a samovar and we were given tea in the morning.

Another time I did Paris to Milan overnight. I was too cheap to book a couchette, which I regretted, but the scenery going through the Alps was fantastic.

These were solo trips. If I was travelling with family I'd definitely take some suitable books and games.

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Made in gb
Lord of the Fleet






London

Longest I've done was around 8 hours on the sleeper from London to Glasgow. If you're doing an overnight journey I'd recommend getting a berth if it's affordable. The extra comfort and privacy is 100% worth it.
   
Made in gb
Highlord with a Blackstone Fortress






Adrift within the vortex of my imagination.

UK perspective of 'long train journeys' is going to differ from the US significantly .

But to give the thread proper context we need to wait until the Russian forum members have added their commentary.

n'oublie jamais - It appears I now have to highlight this again.

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Leader of the Sept







To be fair to the parents, it is entirely possible that happy excited noises were judged the lesser evil compared to uncontrolled wailing. Child noises are just as irritating to parents, we just know how much worse it can get…

Please excuse any spelling errors. I use a tablet frequently and software keyboards are a pain!

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Made in gb
Ridin' on a Snotling Pump Wagon






 Flinty wrote:
To be fair to the parents, it is entirely possible that happy excited noises were judged the lesser evil compared to uncontrolled wailing. Child noises are just as irritating to parents, we just know how much worse it can get…


Hmmm. Possibly. Was in a proper grump before boarding anyway, so may have just been The Incredible Sulk camping out in my brain!

Worst bit as ever is when some bunghole takes your reserved seat, and then gets difficult about sodding off. Not only do I carefully select my seat (I’m 6’2”, so always go for the single seat with no facing seat opposite, allowing me to stretch out), but often all the other seats are reserved for various legs of the journey.

Train staff are normally pretty good about it. And I am of course more courteous if it’s someone with a Dog or walking aids. Especially I’m allow to fuss the Dog!

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Made in gb
Highlord with a Blackstone Fortress






Adrift within the vortex of my imagination.

 Mad Doc Grotsnik wrote:
 Flinty wrote:
To be fair to the parents, it is entirely possible that happy excited noises were judged the lesser evil compared to uncontrolled wailing. Child noises are just as irritating to parents, we just know how much worse it can get…


Hmmm. Possibly. Was in a proper grump before boarding anyway, so may have just been The Incredible Sulk camping out in my brain!

Worst bit as ever is when some bunghole takes your reserved seat, and then gets difficult about sodding off. Not only do I carefully select my seat (I’m 6’2”, so always go for the single seat with no facing seat opposite, allowing me to stretch out), but often all the other seats are reserved for various legs of the journey.

Train staff are normally pretty good about it. And I am of course more courteous if it’s someone with a Dog or walking aids. Especially I’m allow to fuss the Dog!


Looks to me like a normal case of commuting while British.

n'oublie jamais - It appears I now have to highlight this again.

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Indescriminate Explicator





Newcastle NSW

As a child we used to travel from Leeds down to Dover on the train catch a hydrofoil across to Calais then a train with private cabin to Austria via Belgium, Switzerland etc.

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Longtime Dakkanaut





Denison, Iowa

Just as a note, I'm really not used to public transit. In the rural Midwest we usually just drive ourselves, and fly if needed. Even when I lived in a larger city I never used a taxi or bus. I either walked or road a bike if it was within a few miles, or drove if I needed to carry cargo. The only time I have taken a train was when I bought a car on ebay, flew to Albany New York, then took a 20 mile train ride south to the small town the car was in. I have to admit that was an interesting trip. 800 miles back in 13 hours while in a 30-year-old Monte Carlo with nonfunctional cruise control, broken tape deck, 3 of four speakers blown out, and having to use my GPS unit as a speedometer.
   
Made in gb
Leader of the Sept







That sounds highly unsafe and vaguely illegal… should have taken the train on the way back as well!

Please excuse any spelling errors. I use a tablet frequently and software keyboards are a pain!

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