My kids and I like riding the rails and for the price, Amtrak can really be the way to go.

Tickets

Amtrak still has — wait for it — kid rates! I was going to go on Southwest Airlines when I first looked around for a way to Los Angeles.When you go buy tickets online, adult pricing for most airlines starts at age 2! On Amtrak, a kid is 2-15 (under 2 is a baby — imagine that!). They also have AAA rates, veteran rates, and senior rates so most people can find some way to get a discount. Another perk in ticket sales? You don't have to book months in advance to get a better rate. Buy the day before you go and the rate doesn't go up.

The Trip

Trips can be long —I took my kids on a 13-hour one not too long ago. But if you prepare with a backpack of activities for each kid and lots of snacks, you'll be fine. Most Amtrak trains have plug-ins for all things electronic in the lounge, dining cars, and even the seats. Some Amtrak trains have 'kid car areas' specifically for kids to run around in on long trips.

I got to point out California from giant glass windows — sharing with my kids scenery and places I can't do when I'm driving. They loved the trip!

The Drawbacks

The only drawback is really the length of the ride. Long rides can have children chanting the "are we there yet?" mantra way too soon. The longer the ride, the worse the bathroom situation will be; odds are it won't be getting cleaner until the end of the line.

Spend some time getting to know the country in a different way. Ride the rails.

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