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  1. Default Buffalo NY to Maine with toddler

    Hey everyone. This October Im planning a trip with my mom, toddler and another family. My toddler hates being in the car seat for more than 20 minutes! Shes super active.

    Im trying to decide which of these 2 options is the best...
    1. Take the Amtrak train from Buffalo at 9am and get to Rutland VT at 8pm. Stay the night, rent a minivan in the morning and take our time on the 3 hour drive to Bethel. Same deal on the way back.

    2. Drive our own vehicles (wed need 2) starting around 5pm, hope our kids pass out around 7 or 8 without too much crying, and get to Rutland VT around 1am. Stay the night and drive to Bethel in the morning.

    I know this is a road trip forum but maybe someone here has experience with the train too? Im wondering how kid friendly it is- whether she will have some space to run around (or at least walk around) or whether its more crammed like an airline flight?

    Driving would be cheaper and faster but probably more stressful and the adults would suffer some lack of sleep.

    Any suggestions on what to see around Rutland or in the Bethel ME vicinity is also appreciated! We are very outdoorsy and would also love to visit any cool places for little kids (playgrounds, zoos, farms etc)

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
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    Green County, Wisconsin
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    13,316

    Default

    I'd think the train would be the much better option in this case. On the train you could get up and move around a bit.

    There's also the element that your driving plan seems pretty horrible. Not only would you be driving until 1 am, but the last couple of hours, when you're the most tired will be the most challenging driving, on 2 lane roads through some pretty rural territory. Then on top of it all, the adults aren't going to get a proper amount of sleep, thus being overtired as the rest of the trip is just getting started. I can rarely think of plans with that kind of start having a happy ending.
    Last edited by Midwest Michael; 07-09-2018 at 02:37 PM. Reason: typo

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
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    Tucson, AZ
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    Default Answers and Questions

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    Yes, this is a RoadTrip forum, but its main reason for being is to help people (especially families) have enjoyable and rewarding experiences traveling. I myself am a big proponent of both fly/drive vacations and using ferries whenever and wherever possible. Also some of my fondest travel memories are of train journeys. So....

    The first thing that I'd wonder about is that if you are going to rent a single minivan in Maine, why do you need two to get there? And if you are going to rent a minivan anyway, they usually come with unlimited mileage so paying extra to take the train to Rutland is just that: extra, and per person. It is true that you will be able to get up and walk around at your leisure on the train, although running up and down the aisle will be frowned upon at the least. It is also possible on many Amtrak trains to get compartments for a bit more privacy and better sleeping accommodations, but again - at a cost.

    If you were to drive from Buffalo, then you can make all the arrangements locally. In particular, you can rent the vehicle from an off-airport location that doesn't have to pay the ludicrous taxes imposed on 'out-of-towners'. You can also pick it up the night before your departure, bring it home, pack at your convenience, and let your toddler get used to it - even make a 'nest' for themselves that might help keep them happy. You can also plan on making quick little R&R stops every hour or two to let your toddler blow off some steam. (You can't get the train to do that!) And even with all that, you could still make the drive to Bethel in roughly a day, although unless you get a fairly early start in the morning you should plan on making an overnight stop.

    I would not recommend trying to drive into the night past your own normal bed time. Unless you are VERY used to staying up until the wee hours of the morning (which I doubt with a toddler!) you are going to be putting yourselves at risk by trying to push on into the night. Fatigue is a most insidious destroyer of attention, reflexes, and the alertness needed to command a ton of metal (and children) at highway speeds. Study after study has shown that tired driving is every bit as dangerous as drunk driving.

    So, those are my first thoughts. I will have suggestions for things to see and do on your trip, but first things first and let's get your mode of transport figured out first as that will have a major affect what I'd recommend that you see. And by the way, how old is your toddler?

    AZBuck
    Last edited by AZBuck; 07-09-2018 at 06:10 PM.

  4. Default

    My daughter will be just shy of 2 years old in November.

    We would need 2 vehicles if we took our own- because we own 5 seater SUVs and there would be 6 people going. Renting in Buffalo is an option but whether it would be cheaper than taking 2 vehicles.. Id have to check.

    The family Im traveling with drives down to NC each spring and always overnight- 8pm to 8am. I would prefer not to drive late, but in their experience its worked the best that way.

    If my daughter was easygoing it wouldnt be a big deal but she has always been very active and cant stand being contained. If we make stops they would have to be long. She hates when she finally is freed from the car seat, only to be put back in a half hour later.

    I dont mind spending more for the train, if it will be more enjoyable. But like you said, a toddler running around and yelling would be frowned upon.. do many families with young children take the train? Wish they could install a little play area. Just a little slide would keep her busy for hours. :-)

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2003
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    Green County, Wisconsin
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    Default big picture

    Quote Originally Posted by puff5655 View Post
    We would need 2 vehicles if we took our own- because we own 5 seater SUVs and there would be 6 people going. Renting in Buffalo is an option but whether it would be cheaper than taking 2 vehicles.. Id have to check.
    Buck's whole point is that if you'd be renting a van once you get to Vermont on the train option, why not consider it from the very beginning? I can't say if it would be cheaper, but taking one vehicle is going to be a whole lot easier than taking two if you decide to drive.

    The family Im traveling with drives down to NC each spring and always overnight- 8pm to 8am. I would prefer not to drive late, but in their experience its worked the best that way.
    Their experience has been incredibly lucky. I don't imagine they will feel the same way when their luck eventually runs out when their family is involved in a crash from either falling asleep behind the wheel or simply being fatigued enough where they can't react quickly enough to avoid a crash. I'm also guessing that if this is a trip they do every year, they've got family who can watch the kids who are well rested after a full nights sleep, while the parents finally get to sleep during the day and spend the next few days recovering. In any case, I would strongly recommend you stick with your instincts and avoid trying to drive into the early morning hours.

  6. Default

    Well I think my mom, daughter and I will take the train. It will be much more enjoyable. The friends may drive. Well see..

    Anywho, between Rutland VT and Bethel ME, could I get some recommendations for stops? Considering also driving to Acadia while were there. :-)

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
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    Default Sure

    Let me start you off with one that may seem like a tourist trap but which I can tell you from personal experience is an absolute delight for young (and not so young) children: Santa's Village in Jefferson NH. My brother has a summer place in the area and this little amusement park is a 'must see' attraction every Fourth of July for whatever generations of the family are in attendance.

    Another kid pleaser is the cog railroad to the top of Mount Washington, but its base station in Bretton Woods is a little bit (not much) out of your way. Clark's Trading Post is also a long-standing children's attraction, but it is a bit more on the 'touristy' side. And finally, there are any number of hiking trails in the White Mountain National Forest and state parks (especially Franconia Notch State Park) where the adults can get a short walk in the woods while the toddler blows off as much steam as they can.

    AZBuck

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