Choo Choo!

Our family headed to Sacramento, California in June.  Chad’s brother lives there with his family and they were blessing their baby.  We have made the trip to Sacramento a few times, but this time we decided to go by train just for an adventure.  As Locke would say, Choo! Choo!

A lot of people have asked me how the train ride went and what to expect so I thought I would write it all down for everyone.

The short version of the post would read:  It was as adventure.  We would do it again, but not anytime soon.

Here is the longer version in case you are interested:

We took Amtrak from Salt Lake City, Utah to Sacramento, California.  We stopped all along the way in towns like Elko, Battle Mountain, Winnemucca, Truckee, Roseville, etc.  These stops were only 5 minutes or so and we did not get off the train.  There was 1 long stop in Reno for about 20 minutes, but we didn’t get off the train there either.

Here we are all smiles as we waited at the train depot in Salt Lake before we departed.

Everything was pretty old fashioned and antiquated.  The conductors walked around and handed out tickets while we waited on the platform.

We had to put these seat checks above our seats to show that we paid.  (By the way the total bill for our family was $852.  That is there and back for 6 people.)

There were many great things about taking the train.


The kids could get up and go to the bathroom whenever they needed to.

They didn’t have to wear seat belts so they could squirm, lay down, walk around, etc.

Each seat had an electrical outlet so we could plug in electronic devices.

We could all read on the train without getting car sick.

We could play games.  We went to the scenic car and played dominoes and Uno.

We met lots of new friends from all walks of life.  For example, we ate dinner with the caterer of the New York Yankees and a picked up a little sidekick with a blue mohawk as we played games.  Here is our new buddy, Shannon.

The kids slept well on the train because they could stretch out across two seats or recline their seat back and put up their footrest.  Chad could sleep too instead of drive through the night.

Although overall we had a great time, there were a few negatives to taking a train.


The train took a lot longer than a car to get there.  I think from door to door we added on about 7 hours to our trip compared to driving.

We had to board at midnight and on the way home we got into Salt Lake at 3:00 AM.   There is really no picking your departure and arrival times.  There is just one train so you go when it goes.

We had to rent a car when we got there which complicated the process a bit and added on more cost.

Getting off and on the train with 4 kids and all their suitcases, pillows, and blankets was always a bit of challenge, especially when it was 3 in the morning.

A train is public transportation so you never know who will be sitting around you.

You do have to be relatively quiet.  At one point a conductor came up to our table when we were playing dominoes and said some passengers were complaining that we were too noisy.  It was a little surprising because we weren’t being very loud, but kids were playing a game and some old people were trying to read.  I guess the two don’t mix well.

Mom and dad did not sleep well.

We survived and would do it again. We just want Locke to be a little older next time. In case you want to have an adventure too, here are a few tips to make your train trip more enjoyable.


  • A cooler- this saved us a lot of money.  We ate yogurts or string cheese for breakfast and did Lunchables for lunch and had lots of snacks.  The main essential was having milk available for Locke.

We did eat dinner in the dining car one time to shake things up a bit.

  • Electronic devices + headphones- the iPad and iPod came in really handy, especially for Locke, but you have to have headphones as to not disturb other passengers.
  • Pillow & blanket- Sleeping is decent on the train and these items just help you be more comfortable.
  • Games, crafts, activities for the kids- The train has a observing car with big windows and tables.  We played games there.  Also each chair has a tray that extends out that the kids can use as a desk.

  • Germ Stuff- I wish I would have had some Clorox wipes with me so I could have wiped down the seats and buttons before we sat down.  Also, it is nice to have hand sanitizer.


Getting scolded by the conductor for being too loud in the observation car while we were playing dominoes.

Crew reading the Book of Mormon for hours.

Traveling with Chad’s sister and her hubby and little girl.

Getting stopped on our way off the train by seat neighbors to tell us how awesome our kids were.  See this post.  This made me feel really good.

Overall, our train ride was memorable and different and an adventure.  I am glad we did it.






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