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!
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.