Comparable to Amtrak in the United States, Via is the long-distance railway in Canada. Vacationing with your family by train allows you and your children to see the changing landscape and have room to get up and walk around. There is always at least one dining car and a snack bar or two to keep your children satiated. Since sleeping accommodations are provided on the train, you don’t have to worry about hotel nights, and since only the most severe weather can slow down a train, you don’t need to worry about delays and missed flights. Train vacations are also generally more affordable than air or cruise travel.
Narrow down your travel dates. Assuming your children are school age, plan your travel accordingly, which may limit the number of itineraries available. Look at the school calendar to determine the best dates for your family’s trip and see how many days you think are appropriate. Your budget may also determine the length of the trip you can take.Children get discounted tickets, at least through the end of 2011. Infants under 24 months old are free if are seated in an adult’s lap. Children ages 2 to 11 travel for half fare provided your family is traveling in economy class. If you are traveling in an upgraded class, reduced fares are available. Ages 12 to 17 pay a reduced fare in all classes.
Visit the VIA Canada website and purchase an itinerary. You can begin your search for possible train vacations with your starting city, ending city or both. There are trips that are particularly suited to families, which will be mentioned in the description of the package. Many of the Via vacation packages include excursions at destinations along the route, as well as rental cars and hotel nights in the primary destination.
Pack for your trip according to the railway’s requirements. Via offers a downloadable pamphlet outlining baggage guidelines on its website. You are generally limited to two pieces of carry-on luggage weighing less than 50 pounds each. You may also check three to four pieces of baggage free of charge per ticketed passenger, and an additional two to three pieces for a fee.Since you and your children will be treating your seats on the train like your hotel room for the time you are traveling, pack some entertainment to occupy the kids if the scenery isn’t likely to keep them amused.
Arrive at least an hour early for your train trip to check baggage and find your seats. Familiarize yourself and your children with the locations of the restrooms, dining car and the Skyline car if you are in the Sleeper Touring class.
Work on the Kids Activity Book with your children. This is a free activity book available on most Via trains. There are coloring pages, games and cut-and-paste activities for kids to enjoy.
Attend the scheduled activities in the Skyline car, which is a panoramic viewing car with glass windows over the ceiling. Passengers traveling in the Sleeper Touring class of the Toronto-Vancouver line can attend activities and movies every morning from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m.Inquire of your conductor about children’s activities, and take advantage of the passing scenery in the panoramic dome cars on any train.
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