Since becoming a dad, the amount of time I spend travelling on a train has dropped massively. When I did a ‘proper’ job, it wasn’t uncommon to spend a good chunk of my life commuting to and from London or travelling to places as far apart as Newcastle and Hastings. Some weeks, it was all three!
The last few years have been a bit different though. Not only do I no longer have a job to travel to – well, apart from rolling out of bed, walking down the stairs and parenting – but a kid has meant that we’ve done a lot more local things. Life with a baby is full of unpredictability and an assortment of paraphernalia, so a car naturally became our go-to method when out and about.
That’s a shame though. Like all kids, Toddler L loves the train and has thoroughly enjoyed the occasional trip into London. Here, she’s marvelled at the fast-passing landscape through the window, stared at the other passengers a bit too intently and asked “what’s that” to every possible noise. This, coupled with a train trip to Brighton last year which proved she could handle a longer journey, means that we see train travel as a viable option for days out. In fact, as I write this, we’ve just got back from a day trip to Birmingham courtesy of Trainline.
With the Easter holidays approaching, the train travel specialists had been in touch to see if we wanted to try out their latest technological offering – mobile ticketing. This gives you the ability to download your tickets directly to the Trainline App, then use this instead of the traditional orange paper tickets. Considering that you can use a credit card on the tube or electronic tickets for gigs or flights, mobile train ticketing makes complete sense. Even more so when you consider the juggling act that is travelling with a kid and the increased likelihood of misplacing your normal ticket. I speak from experience!
Having seen how train travel can be a viable alternative to the car for family days out, I thought I’d share a couple of tips about travelling on a train with a toddler:
Organisation Is Key
Every parent knows that getting out of the house with a toddler can be a struggle, let alone when you have a specific train to catch. For whatever reason, toddlers can make the simplest of tasks last five times as long as they should, so preparation and organisation is key. For instance, try to ensure that you’re as ready as you can be – pack your bags the night before, have snacks ready, know where you’re going, give yourself extra time, give Trainline mobile ticketing a go etc. Try to eliminate any chance of your toddler slowing you down or you could be waving bye bye to the train from the platform.
Make The Journey Part Of The Destination
This is my slightly pretentious way of saying that you can make the journey exciting too – it doesn’t just have to be a means to getting to your end point. As mentioned, most kids love trains – I don’t know why, but it’s one of those facts of life. As such, get them excited about the fact they’re going on the train, then continue that when at the station and on-board. You wouldn’t believe how much fun Toddler L had walking up the aisle as the train moved or pressing the button to open the toilet door (it wasn’t occupied thankfully).
Pile On The Entertainment
Just like in the car or on a plane, spending a prolonged period of time in one place can be a challenge to a toddler – and their respective parents. Once the excitement of being somewhere new has died down, then you’re going to need to find ways to keep them entertained. To solve this, we often ask Toddler L to pack her own bag – we end up with an assortment of animals, cars, DUPLO, crayons and cuddly toys. Then we have DisneyLife on our phones so she can watch a TV show or film, plus we’ll often christen a long journey with a new, appropriately themed sticker book.
Location, Location, Location
Kirsty and Phil’s property advice also works well for train travel. Your journey is going to be more pleasant if your surroundings are fit for purpose. That means reserving seats when you book so you don’t have to worry about finding one on a busy train – although BusyBot on the Trainline app is good for giving you an indication of which carriages are empty. If possible, grab a table so that you can sit together and have more space for your toddler to play. If potty training, it might also be a good idea to make yourself aware of where the toilets are and maybe sit near them. Lastly, whatever you do and no matter how well behaved your toddler is, don’t be tempted to sit in the quiet coach…
So those are four things to consider when travelling on a train with a toddler. Do you have any other tips that you’d share? Do you travel on train for family days out? Have you used mobile ticketing on the Trainline app yet? Let me know below!
N.B. This is a commissioned post written in collaboration with Trainline.
N.B. This post includes an affiliate link(s). For more info, read my Disclosure policy.