My wife has a conference in San Diego in July and we are contemplating taking Amtrak out and possibly renting a vehicle to drive back. I'd like to hear tips, recommendations, experiences, concerning Amtrak. The main reason we aren't flying is because of my fears of flying and heights and I've tried just about everything you can think of to help with that, medication, alcohol, a combination of the 2, and I even went to a hypnotist. I have flown maybe 6-8 times in my life but this point, flying isn't an option so it's driving or train. We have 2 children, one will have just turned 6and one will be one month from turning 8 at the time of the trip.
I have done a little bit of research on Amtrak and read some good and a lot of bad. I don't fully understand the pricing, the "buckets" thing, but I'm more concerned with the experience for our family than the cost. I realize the accomodations won't be luxurious, quiet, roomy, or filled with entertainment options. Any thoughts or if you have any specific tips about what to take, what accomodations to look for, how to deal with Amtrak, tickets, or anything else would be appreciated.