I know…it’s a bit late. (Since Wednesday is pretty much done)
But I wanted to post this as this is a We Plan that is seriously pressing down on us.
It is April. In June we are planning to travel to see the in-laws. It’s time to buy some tix, people.
Layover in Chicago (7 hours on the way up, 4 hours on the way back).
And it’s time to learn from what worked and didn’t work last time.
For example: we are going to pack lighter. Carry-ons only, if you please. I plan on doing the laundry twice at my in-laws so that we only have to pack 3-4 outfits.
Bring an appropriate outfit to change into at nighttime. An extra pair of shorts/pants and shirt is what I’m talking about here. No, we are not going to book a room on the train because we waited too late and there are no family bedrooms available.
Bring soap/body wash/everyday clean wipes and use them in the uber tiny restroom on board.
We are not bringing the big Rubbermaid cooler. It is not fun to lug around Union Station. It was heavy (weighed a ton) and made keeping up with Muffin’s darting about IMPOSSIBLE! We might take a soft-sided cooler to stash in one of our carry-on bags. I cannot stomach the idea of paying over $2 for a can of Coke. A can. Of Coke.
We will have all personal electronics and cords with us. I am not insane enough to believe that we can keep Muffin occupied for seven hours on that layover (from Hades) in Chicago without electronics of some kind. We might (accent on might) attempt to be touristy in Chicago, but only if our bags are not too much of a burden (we are not stashing them in the overpriced lockers, no sirree!).
That all being said, we love traveling by train. It is cheaper for us to travel by train than for one of us to fly (sad, but true). Plus (and I say this to people and they are quick to mention that it won’t be that bad), the thought of Muffin going through airport security has been known to give me heart palpitations…and Customs? Uh…no.
Plus, Muffin loves trains.
And he was okay until hour 5 of the 7 hour layover.
I also plan to pack some toys/books that are new to him or long-forgotten by him. On the train, all is okay. It’s the layovers in Chicago and the wait for the return train that worry me.
The ultimate goal is to have one rolly suitcase free for souvenirs and the like. That’s the plan, anyway. Maple syrup. Coffee. Josh’s favorite Canadian delicacies (although they become irate—the border crossing people—if we try to bring cheese curds over—that’s okay because Fresh by Brookshire’s sells them).
As far as the pillow situation, I’m pretty much convinced about the blowing up a zippy bag idea. Especially since I looked at the Amtrak site and saw that they no longer offer pillows on the train. You can purchase a comfort kit (including an inflatable neck pillow, eye mask, earplugs, and a 3’x5′ blanket—you know, so you can cover up your big toe…if your big toe is tiny) for $8 on board or $15 sent to your house. So, the 2.5 gallon zippy bags for a pillow it is. (If that makes any sense).
Since a blanket counts as a personal item, I will be bringing a blanket large enough for all of us attached to the rolly suitcase.
In my next We Plan Wednesday, I will discuss ways to successfully navigate the Canadian-American border. Hint: it involves me using metaphorical duct tape on my mouth (Or at least that’s what my fellow travelers would wish).
I leave you with this image of Muffin, post hour 5 of 7 apocalyptic meltdown in the (very) busy waiting area outside of the boarding gates at Chicago’s Union Station. Oh, yes! Our fellow travelers loved us at this point. (But they really loved the wonderful Amtrak employee who quickly stepped in and offered Muffin the conductor’s hat.)
How have your Amtrak travels gone?