Are you planning a train journey with children?
Pre-parent I used to love travelling via train. I would indulgently buy a latte with enough cream to sink a ship and leisurely read a book. Conversations with strangers were commonplace. Sometimes I would nap. Pre-parent me was smug.
Nowadays I have a five year old with the attention span of a fish to keep entertained. Driving long-distance with a boy that gets hideously car sick in the back seat is not my idea of a good time.
Rail offers an affordable means of family travel, more comfortable with the opportunity for toddlers to run off that endless energy!
Planning is key but so is being prepared for anything. If you have a new born travel by any means can be daunting. Check about delays before you leave and if you have any changeovers remember that things with littles take double the time so you are not likely to make a five minute connection!
Children under the age of five travel free but be aware there is no seat allocation. Children aged five to fifteen get a 50% discount on most tickets. Do you travel often and long distance? Consider investing in a Family & Friends Railcard. If booking your ticket online well in advance, you might consider upgrading to first class. It can be just as cheap and you get more room, quieter carriages and a nice person to ply you with complimentary caffeine. If you haven’t reserved seats try and get a table and sit your child opposite so they can kick you instead of someone else.
Check your reservation so you can get on the right coach and the right end!
Pack thousands. Your offspring will be starving in 2.4 seconds even if they just had breakfast. Don’t rely on the trolley service as you may not have change or child friend munch. Buffet cards will usually warm up baby food and bottles. Pick drinks that are not fizzy and drinks that are not sticky. Cheese sandwiches and crackers are good for sensitive tummies.
There are only so many times you can play I spy. Pack games, books, pens and paper. If you travel off peak there is more space for your littles to bounce around and spread out. Games don’t have to be complex, we printed off these activity sheets which distracted little man for an hour! You may wish to bring an I Pad or portable DVD player, just don’t forget the headphones.
Mind the gap. Bring reins for at the station!
Some kids will sleep anywhere (not mine). If you’re little still has naptime bring a teddy or blanket so they can still snuggle up. Don’t panic about trying to travel to a schedule, just do the best you can.
Travel as light as you can. If you can, use a sling instead of a stroller. If you are travelling with luggage you don’t want to be trying to open up suitcases and risk throwing your underpants across the train. Put all the things you want to get at quickly in a backpack. Wear comfortable clothes. Pack spare for your little incase of illness or spillage. If they are small and you have then on your lap don’t wear a massive fluffy jumper you will get hot.
Take a nappy change travel mat as some toilets don’t have change tables. At the station put a fresh nappy on before you catch the train. If your littles have dummies take spare, and more spare!
Ask for assistance on platforms.
Travel with a fully charged mobile, in case delays mean you need to speak to waiting relatives, booked hotels or onward travel providers.
Do you have any tips for travelling with littles or do you have a preferred way of getting about with them?
Disclaimer: This is a collaborative post.