There’s nothing quite like riding on a train, whether it’s the local steam locomotive or a high speed state of the art passenger car. We were blessed enough to ride the Shinkansen, or Bullet Train, when we lived in Japan. That’s truly like flying 15′ off the ground. It’s one of those must-do experiences when you’re in the Orient. We’ve had almost as much fun, though, riding the steam train around the large community park in our area. Trains are fascinating, no matter what their size.
It’s one of the reasons that we’re first in line when an Amtrak trip for homeschoolers is posted on our county homeschooling board. Because the trains in our area rarely run at full capacity on weekdays, Amtrak has made the empty seats available at a greatly reduced cost for school groups. They’ve included homeschool groups in their promotion. For only $9 per person, we ride round trip anywhere from Bellingham (near the Canadian border) to Portland, OR. Oregonians can ride to/from Portland and Eugene. The trips can also be combined from, say, Seattle to Eugene for $18 ($9 per state). For comparison, the lowest adult fare round trip Seattle to Portland is $62.
Groups can be as small as twenty or as large as 72. Note than adults traveling with children under five are not eligible for the rate since it’s intended for school-aged children. There are a few other restrictions, but they’re easy to comply with.
The Amtrak trip is one where getting there is half the fun. The train is clean, comfortable, and a great place to connect with other homeschoolers you may not know well. We usually bring a chessboard and some cards. For the first couple of trips, we studied the towns along the way and talked about them as we passed. It’s a completely different view than from the freeway.
For me, the magic of the trains is invigorating. By the time we get to Portland, I’m raring to go. No traffic hassles, no bathroom stops along the way, no filling up the gas tank. Just a relaxing ride through beautiful landscapes. What a country!
Current Schools on Trains programs include:
If your area is not listed, why not write Amtrak a letter and request that they extend the program into your city?