Traveling with a family of eight presents its own set of challenges, above and beyond “regular” family travel. For example, one common strategy that people suggest is for parents to use a portable DVD player to help maintain the peace during long car trips. Unfortunately, for those of us with teenagers AND toddlers, there is not a movie on this earth that a 13-year-old boy and a 2-year-old girl will both want to watch!! :-D.
We’ve actually had some success in taking long car trips with no electronics at all! Another problem we’ve run into is that we make a LOT of noise! Even if each of us individually is fairly quiet, the smallest noise times eight makes a BIG noise! It was in part due to this that a fellow passenger on a plane once told my wife and I that we were “the type of people that shouldn’t have children.”
Our Upcoming Train Trip
Our family has a trip planned on Amtrak – a roundtrip from Toledo, Ohio, to Denver, Colorado. Booking bedrooms on Amtrak can be pretty expensive if you’re paying cash, but if you use points, which is my strategy, there are a ton of sweet spots on the Amtrak zone map. Our Toledo to Denver roundtrip had a cash cost of more than $6,500, but we were able to book it completely for free using miles and points!Photo: Pixabay
Practicing “Train Manners”
Based on past travel experiences, it’s pretty clear to me that our family will need some practice with how to behave on a train.
We board the train in Toledo at 5:45 a.m., and I have tried to let the kids know that even though I KNOW they’re going to be excited, NOBODY ELSE wants to hear their excitement (especially not at 5:45 a.m.!)
So, we have been practicing what we call “train manners.” Sometimes while we’re driving, or in the evenings, we’ll announce that we’re going to practice “train manners” for the next 5-10 minutes.
“Train manners” consists of sitting or walking quietly, being respectful to others, and above all, TALKING IN A REGULAR VOICE! This seems to be a foreign concept to most kids. Typically when we practice “train manners,” the kids will just whisper. I do try to let them know that they don’t necessarily have to WHISPER, they just can’t yell! Kids seem to have a hard time figuring out a middle range between whisper and shout, and I guess if I had to pick between the two, I’d take the whispering :-D.
Of course, the kids are used to having to talk loud just to be HEARD in a family of eight!
So far, our train manners drills have been going well. We still have a few months to go, but I’m hopeful for a great train experience!
Dan Miller writes the travel blog Points With a Crew, which specializes in helping families (especially larger families) travel for free or cheap. You can follow him on Twitter, or Facebook, or sign up for a once-daily email of travel tips and tricks.