Planning Train Trip #4 and Reminiscing About What Can Go Wrong!

It’s hard to believe that a little more than two years ago, I had never been on a train in the United States.  Now we have more than 15,000 miles under our belts and we are planning our fourth trip.  It will be our first winter trip and as always I would love to hear your suggestions. Below is a picture of the schedule that we will be taking straight across the middle of the country. We have saved the best for last, I hear the scenery from California Zephyr is exquisite.


I would love to hear your suggestions on where we should disembark, what we should do and even where we might stay.  Please also enjoy a repost of the anxious questions we stressed about on our earlier trips!

“I’m All That and a Bag of Chips”

I first learned the phrase “All that and a bag of chips” from one of my lovely middle school students, many years ago.  It made me laugh back then and today I use it every time I think, “I have it all together, but deep down I know I’ve got a long way to go!”

cropped-img_032111.jpgOne trip under my belt and I am a cocky, experienced, train traveler.  Yup, a pure bag of chips.  Looking back to the pre-trip posts of last year brings the worry and panic right back.  The 2014 list included issues that we have resolved this year… here are the 2015 Answers:

How much is this going to cost?  Not as much as you thought… pleasant surprise

Will we really be able to sleep on a train? Yes and no, pick the right seat, bring ear plugs and be sufficiently tired from the days activities.  Sit with your smallest child!

Is train travel safe? Even though recent events would suggest otherwise, I felt completely safe on board, far less tense than driving and very comfortable letting my children wander and meet new people.

Can we survive the togetherness of a family of five with teenagers? A resounding yes, moving about the train is a huge bonus, and let’s be real we all had our moments, but most have been forgotten at this point and I don’t think any of them went viral.

What happens if we get stranded or find ourselves lost in a new city?  This did not happen but it’s always a concern especially if you are trying to catch an early train… those nights I slept worse in the hotel than on the train!

It’s summer, will the heat be unbearable? Nope, lucked out here too!  The elevation in Flagstaff made it actually chilly in the evening, who knew?  Texas and Louisiana this year are giving me pause however….

Should we just fly out to CA as originally planned? ABSOLUTELY NOT!  We had a great amount of time in California and I wouldn’t trade the experience of getting there for a first class plane ticket.

Where are we going to stay?  This is a tough one and the motivation for our new book “Beyond the Rails”.  Where to stay and what to do takes a bit of planning and thinking about carrying everything with you all of the time!

How will we manage without a car? Renting a car in two cities was a nice change of pace.  This year we will be going the whole trip without a car, I’ll let you know how it goes.

Will this be the adventure of a lifetime for my family that I hope it is? All the worry, all of the planning, all of the angst were more than worth it because “Yes” this was an adventure of a lifetime that I would recommend without reservation to anyone who ever considered “seeing” the United States.  For the adults and children our understanding of our country has been completely redefined and our perspective forever changed.

And then this happened…

Though I have one trip under my belt I do know that I am destined  for a pre-trip melt down. I’m hoping I may have had it already when I fell and sprained my ankle a few days ago.  (Update:  Off crutches, using air cast and my ankle is quite the kaleidoscope of bruising colors!)ankle_injury_running

The countdown is on, we leave in five days.  Nothing is packed, and our itinerary is still in the making, I have at least three dozen errands to do, but I got this, “I’m all that and a bag of chips!”

About LB Living Better

Lisa Bates has a Master's degree in Counseling Psychology, Certification to teach Behavioral Sciences and a degree in Business Administration. From school administrator and non-profit executive, to teacher, coach, counselor and mom, Lisa has extensive experience, knowledge and training working with children from toddlers to teenagers. Currently, Lisa owns and operates LB Living Better an organizational and educational services business. Lisa has just released her first book, Barbies in the Horse Bin, Living Better with Organized Children and she is a seasoned, energizing, humorous, workshop presenter with extensive experience. As a mother of three teenagers including twin boys, Lisa maintains her sanity by writing, travelling and playing with her dogs. Read more about Lisa Bates at or contact her at

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