Last week I took my two year old to New York City. We took the train, a 3 1/2 hour trip. We talked, read books, watched movies (thank you portable DVD player), colored and played with toys. It was the most enjoyable trip I have ever had with my daughter. Driving 5+ hours with her in the backseat of the car, stopping every hour for a potty break, would have been, well, very challenging.
The day after we arrived, my brother-in-law and I took my daughter to her first Broadway show, The Lion King.
When the curtain rose and the orchestra started to play, I couldn’t stop staring at my child. She was awestruck, captivated and literally on the edge of her seat. She sat there on top of her two booster seats, about a foot high in the air, with her little legs dangling over the edge of her seat. I desperately wanted to take a photo of her, but was reminded by the usher that one photo would cost $350 due to theatre copyright laws!
So the image of her sitting there, staring at the stage, mouth open in awe and amazement, will forever be engrained in my mind.
I started to cry.
I was overcome with positive emotions – joy, happiness, pride, and many other feelings that I can’t even put into words. It felt so special to be sitting there with my daughter, in New York, in that theatre, watching her experience her first Broadway performance. I couldn’t take my eyes off of her sweet, innocent face.
And that’s pretty much how the next 2 1/2 hours went, except for when she got scared and sat on my lap. Turns out she was afraid of the hyenas and the warthog, calling Pumba a “scary elephant.”
After a quick dinner and a scary taxi ride**, we took the train home later that night, ending a very enjoyable two-day trip to New York City.
If you’re thinking about taking a train trip with your young child, below are some tips for making it onto the train with your sanity (and savings account) in check:
1) Book your tickets early.
If you book at least 14 days in advance, you can save 25% on the cost of your tickets. Click here to check early bird prices and rules.
2) Arrive at the station early.
I took a train to NYC for work a few months ago. Two minutes after I boarded, the train started moving. I would have never made that train with a 2-year old in tow. Two year olds always have to go to the bathroom at the most inopportune time. Your best bet is to get there early and familiarize yourself with where things are (i.e. the boarding gates).
3) Look for the “Red Caps” and Train Attendants
The men and women wearing red caps, also called “Red Caps” will help you get your child, stroller, baggage, and whatever-else-you-couldn’t-bear-to-leave-at-home on the train before the train takes off full speed down the tracks. Once you’re at the train station, look for the “Special Assistance” signs and the Red Caps will be there. Red Caps do accept tips.
Also, once you’ve boarded the train, make sure to tell the train attendant who takes your ticket that you will need assistance when you reach your departure city. They will help you get your child(ren) and baggage off of the train. I witnessed an entire group of young students who couldn’t depart quickly enough with their luggage and missed their stop. When they notified the train attendant (afterwards), he told them that they would have to wait until the next stop and either take a train back the other direction or hire a taxi (an expensive 30 min taxi ride back to the other station).
4) Pick your seats wisely.
If you’re traveling during the day, try to pick seats that are not engulfed in sunlight. We made this mistake on our journey to NYC and my daughter complained about being hot. Yes, we could have moved seats, but wasn’t worth the hassle by that point.
On the trip back to D.C., the train attendant placed us in the handicapped area of the car (of course, I would have gladly moved had someone else needed our seats!). Since we took a late evening train, he said that I could place my daughter in her parked stroller after she fell asleep (which converts to a supine position). This allowed me to sit in a seat next to her in the stroller. Worked like a charm – she slumbered the entire trip home and as for me, I laid my head back and enjoyed a nice, relaxing ride.
Have you taken a trip with your little one(s)? We’d love to hear all about it – please leave us a comment with your travel tips!
**Taxi tip: when riding with a young child NOT in a carseat, remind the driver to drive slowly and carefully. I know, sounds intuitive, but people do forget that it doesn’t take much brake action for a 40-pound child’s body to get pummeled into the back of the plexiglass barrier. If you have any other tips for riding in taxis, please leave us a Comment – would LOVE to hear them.
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