Children love trains – there’s something magical about speeding along with the world outside, watching the rolling countryside give way to the big cities and then back to fields of green.
If you’ve got younger children, even popping just one or two stops on the train is an adventure, especially if you then walk around and explore that town.
But what about longer train journeys? In the holidays, combining a fun day out with a train journey can prevent the “are we there yet?” moans from a car and you don’t have to drive. You could even go and visit the grandparents by train.
It’s actually much easier to keep your kids entertained when travelling by train, but to help you out we’ve listed 5 ways to help you survive train journeys with children.
Get there early
Obviously you don’t want to be running for a train, but a station is a fascinating place for a child. There’s a hustle and bustle, whistles blowing, platforms and all sorts, plus some stations have things to see (e.g. platform 9 ¾ at Kings Cross) so it’s worth doing some research first. Many stations have fabulous architecture and the sheer size of them is staggering.
Bring the essentials
It can get cold on trains so it’s worth bringing a blanket so your kids can snuggle up and even nap if they need to. Most trains have a place you can store buggies as well as wider areas so you can sit with your child in their pushchair if they prefer. If you’re unsure, speak to the guard who can direct you to the best carriage.
Slightly older children will ask lots of questions about where they are and how far it is. Try to find a large map of the route and mark off the start and end. Then you can show them exactly where you are on your journey.
Sit by a window
If you’re going on a long journey your kids will need entertainment. There are also lots of games you can play by looking out of the window, like I-Spy. Or give each child a list of things to spot and promise a treat once they’ve crossed them all off. Bring toys that aren’t bulky or heavy, but don’t have lots of small pieces that could get lost.
Most trains have a buffet car or trolley, but it’s often quite expensive. You’re much better off packing a train picnic that kids can dip into throughout the journey. Pack a few surprises and give them out at certain stations.
Wherever you’re going, book your tickets in advance to save money and get epoints!