My son is now TWO. It’s crazy. Now that the world is restarting to some extent after our pandemic response, we started vacationing. First up was Jack’s very first trip to Disney World. A party reuniting us with some of my college friends gave us the opportunity, so we scheduled my return to Disney World and Jack’s first visit at the end of June. My sister and brother-in-law agreed to go with us, so I wouldn’t be wrangling a toddler all by myself!
I mapped out all my options: driving, flying, and taking the Auto Train. There are also different schools of thought on whether kids under two should have be lap children on a plane, and if they have their own seat whether to put them in a car seat for the flight. You can look that up and make your own choice. I’m on the side of kids having their own seat and sitting in a car seat. It came out that taking the Auto Train was roughly the same cost as flying – even with sleeper accommodations.
The benefits of the Auto Train were compelling to me: packing up my car like one huge suitcase, no TSA or associated limitations on what I could pack, having my own car, having our usual car seat, being able to rest on the way down, meals included, etc.
This was the very first time that Jack slept in a bed. Frankly, he’s had zero interest in beds entirely other than wanting to jump on them. He took a really long time to go to sleep, and I was pretty panicked about the idea of him falling out of bed. We had a “roomette” and we slept together on the lower bunk, heads at opposite ends. I didn’t get a ton of sleep on the way down, but it was better on the way back since I knew what to expect.
Even with all that, he really enjoyed the train. He liked to “take a walk” every hour or so and we would walk between cars. I taught him that the doors between cars are “scary doors” so he wouldn’t run too far ahead of me and try to go through them without me.
Here are some things that made our train trip successful:
- A toddler leash backpack
- This helped me give him a little freedom with the security that I could pull him back to me quickly and easily.
- It doubled as a place for his “stuff”.
- A small selection of toys that didn’t take up much space
- We stored these in his leash backpack.
- We brought two small wooden cars that stacked. When the roomette was in daytime configuration and the tray table was stowed, there was just enough room on the floor for him to play with them.
- For comfort, we brought his baby Mickey Mouse that he usually takes to bed, his two blankets, and his portable Skip Hop owl soother.
- We also bought a cute little activity pad that uses a mess-free marker for coloring.
- Snacks and milk in a small softside cooler
- Slippers for those frequent walks
- An iPad with downloaded video content
- Whatever will keep your toddler’s attention. For my kid it was Cocomelon and Frozen.
What we wished we’d brought:
- Disposal bags for diapers
- There was only one small trash bag in the roomette, and it got smelly pretty quickly!
- Toddler size cutlery
- Jack isn’t so good at using full size forks or spoons yet.
I would definitely do the Auto Train again, but I would consider a slightly bigger accommodation vs. the roomette to have more play space as Jack gets bigger. In a sleeper bedroom, he’d also be able to sleep on the floor, easing my paranoia!