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All Aboard!

You'd rather not fly and you're not crazy about cramming into the car, so why not consider a family train trip? Nobody wears seat belts, and everyone gets to walk around.

Amtrak's the only game in town for most U.S. destinations. For day trips, coach seats are fine, but the real fun is an overnight trip in a sleeper. By day, it's a family room, with a sofa and chair; at bedtime, these convert to beds, with two upper berths folding down from the wall (with guardrails). The rooms sleep two adults and two kids. Bathrooms (with showers) are down the hall in each car. Meals (kids' meals too) are included. Some trains offer gourmet fare prepared fresh in the train's kitchen and served in the dining car; others, only sandwiches and snacks in a lounge car, so check first.

Rates vary  -- tremendously. There are five different rates for each sleeper, depending on demand. Off-peak travel can be a bargain, but popular routes at popular times get pricey in a hurry. Train tickets, sold separately, are free for kids under 2 and half price for 2- to 15-year-olds. Check Internet-only bargains, as well as train/plane deals. For more info: www.amtrak.com or call 800-872-7245.

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