Welcome to Part 3 of my Healthy Eating on Vacation series - Train travel.
Mid-way through our trip, we took a train from my family's to my in-laws house.
1. 2 hour drive to the "big city" (Erie)
2. Dinner in Erie
3. Overnight hotel stay
4. Breakfast at McDonald's (included in the hotel stay)
5. Train trip to Upstate NY
Train travel is much like airplane travel. The food on Amtrak sucks (I know this by experience). Luckily, this was a short trip - supposed to be 6 hours (was actually 7 due to construction). I've been on 24 hour trips before...no fun in the food department.
This trip had a few new challenges:
1. We had to carry all our bags with us (no checked bags)
2. We were leaving from a hotel room, not from home. That limits your food choices.
3. We were in the city for dinner, with no kitchen
Let's start with step 1: dinner. Erie is like any other city, with many restaurants and grocery stores. I knew that my stepdad would want to have dinner at a restaurant, and truthfully - we hadn't eaten out all trip at that point. I chose Applebees, because I know they have paleo-friendly, lower calorie options. I also know that they have meals that my stepdad likes.
In general, I avoid sit-down restaurants with the kids because the 3 year old cannot sit still. And in fact, he didn't. When his older brother was 2 to 4, we didn't eat out either.
I ordered the Napa chicken with portobellos. I have to say, it was kind of bland and overcooked. But my 3 year old loved it. So much for choosing healthy - I ended up eating one of his mini-sliders. I tried to talk him into getting chicken, because he likes chicken, but NO. (Step #1 of a good mom, always order something that your kid likes. Step #2 be willing to trade with him.)
From there we went back to the hotel to go to bed. We had a room with 2 double beds. My stepdad was next door. We all slept great! Okay, I lie. My toddler fell out of the bed. So my husband joined us so we could trap him. Two adults, one toddler, in a full bed. And the toddler did NOT want to share, so he woke up every half hour to push, kick, and complain.
Train left at 7 am. So we were up at 5 am. We went to McDonald's for breakfast. I know, I know. But this particular hotel had no breakfast, but they gave you a voucher to the McD's across the parking lot. Again, you have to be flexible. Big boy ordered pancakes, but only ate one. Toddler ate the other one. I had a coffee (my second, the first was from the hotel office), and an Egg McMuffin, because I figured it would be filling.
Next thing we did is pack up. This particular room had a fridge. I'd taken some snacks in a cooler up with us. This is a good tip - your food choices expand when you have access to refrigeration. It was very nice of my stepdad to drive us up and stay up overnight to take us to the station.
Snacks from the fridge that we packed up:
1. string cheese
2. hard boiled eggs - I peeled them at the hotel and put them in a baggie with salt and pepper
4. raw veggies again (cucumber, carrots mostly)
2 small bags of M&Ms from grandpa's house. That candy did come in handy. My newly potty trained toddler is afraid of public restrooms (can you blame him?) His reward for using the train bathroom was the M&M's.
So my meals looked like this:
Breakfast: egg McMuffin
Snack: shakeo protein shake (I just made it and shook it up and drank it on the way to the train station)
Lunch/snacks on the train: Quest bar, raw veggies, apple, eggs, string cheese.
Dinner: birthday party at my MILs house! Did I mention that we were traveling on hubby's birthday?
Again, my husband and kids bought some additional snacks, coffee, water, and lemonade from the train.
All in all the 7 hour trip wasn't too bad. Amtrak seats are pretty comfy and spacious. The kids napped, watched movies, colored, played games on the pads. We enjoyed the sights, the brief view of the lake. We had to stop 2x for construction, which made us an hour late.
Probably the most exciting/ scary/ stupid part was watching people at the Erie station. There was a cargo train that went by before the passenger train. About 1/4 mile down the tracks there were two people purposely standing in front of the train and jumping out at the last minute. For both trains. I hope they were arrested. Sometimes I think about Darwin, but really you have to feel bad for the guys driving the train.
Have you ever traveled by train? Do you have any other tips on packing food for the train?