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Taking the train is an exciting way to travel for families as part of a

Train travel can offer a relaxing, economical alternative to flying or driving long distances with scenic views of the countryside and time to enjoy each other's company.

We offer some tips to keep in minding when planning, packing and travelling by train with children.

CLICK ON THE SPECIFIC TIPS OR SCROLL THE PAGE TO VIEW ALL TIPS

 

For more travel tips see PARENT TRAVEL TIPS

PLANNING THE TRIP

  Here are some tips for planning to ride the rails as part of a family vacation:

  • If the trip involves visiting friends or family, then your train route should probably be the most direct route available.

  • Look for the most direct route to a destination to reduce or avoid the necessity of changing trains.  This will reduce stress of the trip and the chances of missing a connecting train as a result of delays.  It also reduces the risk of  losing luggage.

  • If you haven't chosen a final destination for the vacation, do some research and look into scenic train routes that will add picturesque views to the trip.  For example, taking the train from Edmonton to Vancouver through the Mountains can be a thrilling adventure for kids as they watch the mountains pass by, go through tunnels and over train tressels. 

  • Children under two years and not occupying a seat are usually free on most trains - check with the rail company - when riding in parent's lap.  If booking a seat, consider taking a car seat for children under two years of age.

  • Most rail companies offer reduced rates for children under 12 years of age and if purchasing a seat for children under two.

  • Check with the rail company for packages that may include accommodations, rental cars and discounts.

  • If the trip is longer than six hours, consider travelling at night and booking a sleeper car - most children really enjoy sleeping in the bunks.  It is more expensive to book sleepers, but it is worth it for a long trip.

  • Take a trial run - look for a local heritage or site-seeing short duration train trip (one that is about an hour in length) to take the kids for a ride on.  This gives you a chance to familiarize all of you with a train, and perhaps go over some guidelines for safety and behaviour on the train prior to the actual trip.

  • Reserve a window seat.  Ask if the seats allow seats facing each other if travelling as a family of four (2 adults/ 2 Children).  This way each child has a window seat.

  • Inquire if a dining car is available and if you can reserve a seating time - take an early seating if possible. 

  • Some trains offer special domed cars or cafe cars that may have lounges offering a chance for families to walk through the train for a change of pace. 

  • Book seats at either end of the car - especially if travelling with toddlers - this allows for walks to one end and back again.  It may be a bit louder at the ends, but this may work to your advantage to muffle any noise children may be making.

  • Ask ahead of time for priority boarding.

  • See links to additional tips.

Click here to return to list Click here to return to specific tips list

PACKING TIPS

Packing for a rail trip is similar to travel by air - you may have a little more room if booking a sleeper car but most luggage should be stored in baggage.  See Air Travel Tips for additional tips along with these additional suggestions for packing on a train ride:

  • Limit each member to one carry-on piece - while the size restrictions are not as limiting as airlines, especially when travelling in a sleeper.

  • Bring along some snacks, toys and activities to keep children occupied.  Some rail lines now have activity cars that may offer board games, scheduled activities and even video games and movies.

  • Bring comfortable shoes and a change of clothing for each member of the family.

  • Carry all medication on board.

  • Pack a toothbrush for each member in carryon luggage.

  • Delays can occur so be prepared, especially if meeting a connecting flight, bus or train at your destination.

  • Bring all baby-care items if you are travelling with an infant, including food.

  • Bring headphones for a tape player.

  • See links to additional tips.

Click here to return to list Click here to return to specific tips list

ON THE TRIP

When your family is ready and set to go on a trip, take advantage of these tips to help make your adventure an enjoyable and safe trip for all:

  • Arrive at least an hour before your train's scheduled departure to check your luggage and give your family time to find the departure gate and familiarize yourself with the train station.  Take the time to find out where you will also depart the train and pick up luggage on your return trip.

  • If you have arranged to pre-board, or even if you haven't, ask the Ticket handler if you can pre-board with children.

  • Review Safety Concerns with children before boarding and after you have boarded.

  • Supervise young children when using the restroom - see Safety tips for Using Public Washrooms

  • Settle into your seats as soon as possible to allow other passengers to settle in.

  • Remind children to respect other passengers and Service Attendants at all times.

  • Locate the washroom facilities.

  • Introduce yourself to the Service Attendant and inquire where any special cars that you can visit may be and particulars of any meal service.

  • Try to respect other passengers that may be napping or sleeping on the train - especially during the late evening and early morning hours.

  • Feel free to tip Service Attendants.

  • Take advantage of train stops that allow passengers to disembark for some fresh air and to stretch your legs - but make sure you reboard the train on time.

  • Avoid high sugar and caffeine snacks and drinks for children.

  • Ask the Service Attendant if any activity books or toys are available for children.

  • See links to additional tips.

Click here to return to list Click here to return to specific tips list

SAFETY TIPS

Safety tips to keep in mind for children and adults riding the rails:

  • Keep well back on train platforms and keep children close - especially toddlers.

  • When embarking, disembarking and walking beside the train keep hands and feet away from underneath the train.  

  • Never let children near the train wheels.  The Train can move at any time.

  • Never cross the rails or play on the rails.  Teach children never to play on rail lines at any time or go on rail bridges.

  • Never cross in front of a train.

  • Teach children not to play with any emergency braking systems.

  • Children should not play or touch any exterior doors or emergency windows.

  • Use caution when embarking and disembarking.  Take advantage of the assistance offered by Service Attendants.

  • When travelling between cars, teach children not to put fingers anywhere other than the door handles and watch your step.

  • Young Children should not wander the trains at will.  If children are going to be permitted to visit other areas of the train on their own (over 12 years of age only) set guidelines for where they may go.    

  • Children should never go in the washroom or sleeper car with another passenger.

  • If children are in another car or area of the train, they should return immediately to their seats if the train stops at a station or at any time.

  • Use caution when walking or moving in the train as a sudden stop can occur at any moment.  Sudden movements can also occur after the train has stopped.

  • If children are sleeping in upper bunks, look for a harness or rail that will reduce the risk of falling out during the night.  Some trains have a harness system.  If a harness system is used that has openings - tell children not to put their head in the openings.

  • See links to additional tips.

Click here to return to list Click here to return to specific tips list

UNACCOMPANIED MINORS

Rail Lines may allow children between the ages of 8 and 11 to travel as Unaccompanied Minors on direct routes.  Sleeper accommodations do not permit Unaccompanied Minors.  Check with the Rail Line for specific requirements and also see Tips for Children Flying as Unaccompanied Minors for more tips and suggestions.

Click here to return to list Click here to return to specific tips list

LINKS TO MORE TRAVEL TIPS

See the following Tips for more suggestions:

All Tips are offered as suggestions only

While we have tried to provide you with a list of suggestions to help parents when travelling with children to keep them safe, unfortunately, we can’t think of everything and it is the responsibility of parents to ensure their children’s safety.

 

For information on VIA Rail Canada go to 

VIA Rail Canada's Policies, Fares and Services for Children on the Train

For Tips on Who and What to Tip Click Below:

Click here for Tips on When and What to Tip

Click below to find out how easy it is to Enjoy Canada by Rail

Click here to find out how easy it is to Enjoy Canada by Rail

For Travel Tips for Unaccompanied Minors Click Below:

Click here for tips on plane travel by unaccompanied minors

 

For links to great sites to find toys to help entertain kids on the Train go to:

Kids Travel Products

Crayola Products

For Games to Play while travelling, Click Below

Games to make Travel Fun, car games, picnic games, instructions and tips

For Tips on buying Toys for Children Click Below:

Click here for tips on buying toys

See the following sections for specific tips:

For General Travel Tips Click on 

click here to view tips to help make travel fun

For Travelling with Teenagers Tips Click on

Click here to view tips on travellilng with teens

For Travel Tips - Children with Severe Allergies Click on

Click here for tips on travelling with children with severe allergies

For Tips on Eating out with Children Click Below:

Click here for tips on Eating out with Children

For Tips on Travelling with Grandchildren Click Below:

Tips on Travelling with Grandchildren

For Spring Car Care Tips Click Below:

Click here for spring car care tips

For Winter Driving Tips Click Below:

Click here to view winter driving tips

For Tips on Enjoying Live Theatre with Children Click Below:

Click here for tips on Enjoying Live Theatre with Children

For Tips on Taking Pictures Click Below:

Click here for tips on Taking Pictures

For Tips on Protecting Your Home Click Below:

Click here for Tips on Protecting Your Home from Burglary

For Amusement Park Tips Click Below

Click here for amusement park tips

For Car Travel Tips Click Below:

Click here for Car Travel Tips

For Air Travel Tips Click Below:

Click here for Air Travel Tips

For Winter - Ski Holiday Tips Click on

Click here for winter/ski holiday tips

For Tips on Taking a Dude Ranch Vacation Click on

Click here for tips on taking a Dude Ranch Vacation

For Travel Safety Tips  Click Below

Click here to view Travel Safety Tips

 To Return to Travel Tips Click Below

Click here to return to Travel Tips

 

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