Earlier this summer I wrote a blog post about the break up of travelling with kids by airplane. I was a week or so away from boarding a plane to Saskatoon with the two girls and it ended up being our worst travel experience to date. It got me thinking while in Saskatoon, there has to be another way to travel with kids. You can drive, you can take the bus, you can fly… WAIT.. VIA RAIL!
I have memories as a child being on the train travelling to Vancouver from Saskatoon, being in the observation car and watching my brothers take in the scenery as I was too young really appreciate the view. What would VIA rail be like travelling with children? I reached out to VIA Rail to see if they’d consider working with me as a blogger on a trip!
Here are a few things to consider when travelling with kids on VIA Rail. Is it possible? YES! ALL ABOARD!
1. You’re in for a wobbly trip with kids! Ava was ok, but Zoe weebled when it wobbled, which made it a bit hard to walk between cars. We managed but for that reason we didn’t investigate too far into the train. It also made for a really rocky sleep for myself that first night! As there was no place specifically for Zoe to sleep, she was with me on a single bed. I felt every movement she made.
2.Close proximity, our cabin has two single beds in bunk bed style. This was great for Ava as she has her own space, however, with a 7 year old and a 21 month old; this made the inevitable melt down next to impossible to deal with. The Cabin was the best place for us, just maybe not with a toddler. At night it’s two bunk beds, but during the day, the put the top bunk up and you can have the bottom bed put away and it then has two chairs. To cater to nap time, we asked to have the bottom bed left as is.
3. Be aware of your boarding time and schedules, this will help you pack for the trip. I quite enjoyed the fact that the train was leaving so late at night from Saskatoon, as it meant we boarded and everyone went to sleep. However, we had an angry moment of “I’m HUNGRY” and late at night when you’re just boarding the train, there isn’t much for food options. We were to arrive in Jasper at 13:00 so but the train was behind schedule and they don’t serve lunch because normally people get off in Jasper and eat there. Knowing the schedule, I would have brought along more non-perishable food items as a just in case!
4. Speaking of Food, this was probably the cause of most frustration! We didn’t look into how exactly the food system worked, which caused some grief with the kids. We missed out on the main breakfast, and dinner. I did not know that you had to make reservations and the dining car is not flexible. When we had gone for dinner, they had no reservations until 9pm, with kids 9pm dining doesn’t work!
5. Onboard activities, there are many things to do on the train, though we didn’t take part in all of them, we did take advantage of the live music in the evening, which honestly saved the entire trip. The observation car and going through the Rockies in the mid afternoon to early evening is probably the most spectacular scenery you will witness in Canada. Throw in a beautiful song, an acoustic guitar and my girls were in love! This easily made our trip most memorable!
Long, short, it’s an incredible trip! Would I do it again? YES with older children 100%, with my husband 1000%. Though it is time consuming, this is a great way to either begin or end your trip with a nice calm winding down train ride to take in the beauty that Canada has to offer! Just make sure if you’re taking kids that you pack your extra snacks and do as much research as possible! There is so much that VIA RAIL has to offer!