3 May 2016

Train Travel With Kids Made Easy

My son is a seasoned flier (you can read my travel hacks for flying with kids here). He hasn’t however, had much occasion to travel on the British Rail Network. He has been on the big electric train once before when we went to London a couple of years ago. M was on hand then, which meant an extra pair of hands to help.

Train Travel With Kids Made Easy

We travelled to Newcastle over this weekend to catch up with friends. It was just J and I, as M was at work. So we decided to take the train there and back rather than drive. J was up for a train adventure and I liked the idea of hassle-free travel where I could sit back and relax and not worry about motorway traffic.

Hassle-free travel with a child? Yes, that’s right. Train travel with kids can be a doddle with some careful planning and organisation.

Here are my top tips to ease the pressure when considering train travel with children.

Booking Tickets


You can book your tickets in advance and either print them out as e-tickets or arrange to collect them from the station on the day of travel. Either way, you don't have to worry about long queues at the ticket counter.

It also means you have the option to reserve your seats before you travel. Choose a table with a window in anything other than the quiet coach. The table is perfect to spread out food, games, toys, books. And windows are great to look out at the world as it passes by.

Pack Food


Pack sufficient quantities of food and drink to last the entire journey. It will save you money. If your journey spans meal times, pack a picnic that you can eat at your seats.

Err on the side of excess; kids tend to eat a lot more on train journeys that they would otherwise. It probably has something to do with being confined to a seat with nothing else to do.

This is one time when the concept of healthy eating can safely go out the window. The priority is hassle-free travel that only junk food can ensure. Crisps, biscuits, chocolate, juice and lots of wipes are a must on any train journey with kids. Do try and sneak in the occasional banana or apple.

Don't Rush


J and I had quite the adventure, walking the first 20 minutes to the tram, changing trams a couple of times before actually arriving at the train station. There was an incessant barrage of questions along the way. There were pit stops for refreshments even before we boarded the train.

But that was the whole point of it. A train journey with children can only be fun if you consider it an adventure. Look at it from a child’s viewpoint. There are so many fascinating things to see, so much to comprehend, all they need is time to soak it all in. Let them have it.

Allow yourself ample time so you are not rushing, worrying about missing your train. Let your inner child take over and enjoy the journey.

Entertainment


Pack some activity and sticker books, a box of crayons and a couple of favourite family games that you can enjoy on the train. I am not one for mobile devices, but if that’s what it takes to keep your children entertained, then go for it. Don’t forget the headphones though, so you are not disturbing your fellow passengers.

Luggage


A backpack is a lifesaver when travelling with children. It means you have both hands free for more important things like holding little hands that need you.

Each child can have their own if they are old enough to carry one. You can enlist their help with the packing as well. It means you are spreading the load and not carrying everything yourself. It is also a great way to instil a sense of responsibility.

Travel Clothes


There is no room for an umbrella when travelling with children. Wear an all-weather jacket with a hood. It will keep you warm and dry in the unpredictable British weather.

Mind The Gap


Train steps can be tricky to navigate for little feet. Sometimes the gap between the edge of the platform and the step can be dangerously wide. Always make sure you and the children are getting on and off the train safely. When boarding, let the children get in before you do. Reverse the sequence when you alight, so you can help the little ones out.


There you have it. Tips and tricks to make train journeys with kids safe, happy and fun. Do you have any tips to share? Please feel free to leave them in the comments below.




26 comments:

  1. My five-year old loves trains! Like you I prepare snacks and makes sure the Ipad is fully charged, but once we're in the train though... I never really need much of it... because she loves just watching the world go by. x

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    1. Windows do tend to provide a lot of entertainment, don't they!

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  2. We have only taken our Daughter on a train to London and for us it is only a 20 minute journey so never needed to plan too much. Great post

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    1. Ah! London for us is a proper little train adventure. Can't wait to go again this year.

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  3. Ive not traveled on a train with my 2 little ones yet they are a bit young but this is a great list, i lobe the food and entertainment definalty something for any kind of long distance travel with kids. Marie ☺

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    1. Absolutely! It is the only way to keep them happy and maintain your sanity as a parent :)

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  4. I recently took my little two ( aged 1&2) on the train for the first time to York. They loved it and thought it was an adventure xx

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    1. That does sound like a fun day out. Did you visit the Railway museum?

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  5. I agree making the journey both an adventure and ensuring you have excess snacks makes mummy and child happier all round.

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    1. I have had a couple of 'Mummy fails' where I ran out of snacks. Lesson learnt!

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  6. That last point about the Gap is so vital, even for someone like me without kids, I often tumble down because the stairs on trains are crap or I forget about the gap lol x

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    1. It does get quite tricky sometimes, doesn't it? I get palpitations thinking about what will happen if one little foot gets stuck in there!

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  7. My girls are really into trains but we haven't been on one yet. I will remember these tips for our first trip.

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    1. Hope you get to take them on one soon, Tori. Bet they will love it!

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  8. Sensible tips.

    N loves travelling by train (or bus) because we so rarely do it so it's a real treat. I second the drinks and snacks.

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    1. Pretty much the same with my son. Mummy's car holds no novelty as it is a daily thing. Buses and trains on the other hand...

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  9. Great tips, I love that you turned it into an adventure rather than rushing through x

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    1. It made all the difference, to be honest. There has been trouble in the past when we have been rushed.

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  10. My son has never been on a train and I don't know if he'll get on one soon as rail prices are extortionate here in Ireland but these are great tips for traveling on the train with little ones in tow.

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    1. That's such a shame, really. Is there nothing like off-peak travel or cheaper with advance booking?

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  11. My son is now 7 and he's travelled on trains numerous times, as well as long haul flights to Australia (3 times) and shorter ones to various European destinations.

    I agree with all those tips, especially having a rucksack so you are hands free for monkey management.

    And all the chocolate buttons. I always had emergency chocolate buttons in my handbag, and doled them out at regular intervals.

    I love travelling with him, he is super portable and so funny. We were flying to Australia in 2015 and I was quite stressed as my father was dying in Australia. We got to Abu Dhabi and Joseph said "oh exciting what are we doing now?" I replied "getting on another plane" Joseph went all 15 year old on me "you can't be serious" Everyone was giggling.

    My point is travelling can be amazing with kids and give you brilliant memories but you have to stay relaxed and keep a child's viewpoint on things!

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    1. I agree with you, Kylie. We have travelled loads with our son, and it has always been a joy. I think the key definitely is not to rush (though sometimes short transit times meant we've had to pry him away).

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  12. Ahh can't wait to take our little one on train adventures - you're SO right that you shoudl treat any journey like this as an adventure and not just a means of getting from A to B. When I was younger, I used to take my little twin brothers on a train adventure to the local airport so they could have a look at the planes taking off and landing before going back home again. It was such a simple day out but they loved it!

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  13. Great post hun will some fantastic tips... we haven't successfully tackled a train journey yet with the little ones however using these tips I might give it another try... if I'm brave enough that is lol xx

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  14. I have to admit I don't like travelling by train as the kids get really bored and it normally results in a tube journey the other end which I struggle with as have one in a buggy. Will have to remember your tips for next time

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  15. I love travelling on the train with my daughter. We take our CBeebies magazines and work through all the different activities.

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