My son is now seven and a half months. Crawling, pulling himself up on every possible box or shelf or piece of furniture to stand, and tumbling down to the ground with a loud thud. All of this making my heart so excited and extremely nervous. And that is only in our apartment, never mind when we travel!!
I was born and raised in Massachusetts, and since meeting my husband four years ago ((and moving to NYC nine months after meeting him)), I have probably traveled between the two states around thirty times. I have done most of the traveling by bus and car. However, in December 2010, we took Amtrak for the first time and fell in love!! Since Vedder has been born, he has traveled to Massachusetts four times, twice on Amtrak and also loved it.
Just to clarify things, I do not work for Amtrak at all, nor am I getting paid for this blog post. I am just an extremely satisfied customer, and want to get the word out to other families.
The first time Vedder and I took the train from New York Penn Station to South Station Boston was Thanksgiving Day 2011. Now I am not saying that Amtrak completely takes away all the stresses of traveling with a child, especially an infant, but they sure do make it easier. In November, Vedder was almost four months old. I had a huge stroller, carseat, diaper bag, purse ((which for me is a large bag)) and rolling suitcase. My husband brought us to Penn Station to help me with all the luggage. Of course my genius thinking of taking a 2pm train on Thanksgiving Day because it would save me $75 as opposed to traveling the day before or after the holiday didn't quite work out. I did not factor in that Penn Station is also on 34th street like Macy's. Yep. I completely did not factor in at all that while I would be trying to lug my whole life in 3 bags and a stroller, there would be those thousands upon hundreds of people who come to New York this one time of year to see the nations biggest parade. On the same street I needed to catch a train. Like I said, I'm a genius.
However, once we got there the employees of Amtrak were so helpful my very frazzled state was quickly calmed. They even allowed my husband to help get Vedder and me settled on the train even though he was not joining us on the trip. Many times throughout the four hour trip, a train worker approached me to see if I needed anything, even offering to get water from the cafe cart for us. So nice!!
Our second trip to Massachusetts was just a couple weeks ago. And I feel like as my son gets older, my brain gets fried a little more. On this trip, right after leaving Penn Station I realize I didn't print out my ticket from the kiosk. I only had a receipt of purchase email!! After having to purchase another ticket on the train, a worker gave me all the paperwork, explaining how to get a full refund for the previously purchased ticket. And then when leave Boston a few days later, because of said fried brain, we missed our scheduled departure. The man at the ticket booth was so calm and helpful, I didn't even have the chance to worry and freak out before he called a Red Hat over to help me and store my bags until the next train to New York. Phew!!
The designation between cars - cafe, business, quiet, and coach - makes it very easy to not feel like I am that obnoxious person with the child laughing, singing, and yelling on the train. The scenery of the northeast route from NYP to BOS is beautiful. While Vedder naps I am constantly snapping pictures of the gorgeous new England towns as they fly by. Then when he is awake we are either looking out the windows together, playing with toys on the seats, or walking to the cafe car where they have fresh fruit cups that I am able to slice up and share with him.
The only thing I would change, or have Amtrak add to better the experience for traveling families, are changing tables. Traveling with an infant as often as I do four hours is a long time to go without a diaper change. And even though the handicap bathrooms offer enough space for me to put a changing pad on the floor, the sanitary aspect of that is not appealing at all.
The Amtrak train to Boston passes right past our apartment in Queens and over the park we go to weekly. My husband and I are teaching Vedder that this is the train to Nana and Grandad's house. Even though he may not understand what we are saying, he definitely understands the noise of the train and stares up at it as it zooms. U.
Our next trip to Massachusetts is at the end of the month. I am very excited to be seeing my family again so soon and am looking forward to another pleasant experience traveling.