Quite clearly the most popular choice for toddlers old enough to know about Thomas the Tank Engine, taking the train is generally a less stressful and more enjoyable means of transport when you have a baby or toddler. With no traffic jams or long queues at the check in desk, taking the train allows you to relax and focus on your little one.
"Thomas the Tank Engine has made this a popular choice for toddlers and parents alike, allowing you to relax and focus on your little one."
In addition, it need not always be as expensive as it is perceived to be. If you book ahead, travel off peak and take advantage of any special promotions, taking the train can be a cost effective method of travelling. In most countries, children under 5 travel for free. Check with the rail operator about baggage allowance- most companies are relaxed about this, although some allow only 2 pieces per person, but none for children.
Some tips for travelling with your little one by train include:
- Whenever possible, book your seats and ask if there are any
family seating areas, which may have space for a stroller. If
your baby or toddler has started moving around independently,
then ask for a mid carriage seat. Although not convenient for
boarding and disembarking, it is the safest option for crawling
babies or walking toddlers, who refuse to sit in your lap.
- Nappy changing on trains can be tricky. On board the train,
clean toilets are scarce and nappy changing facilities a rarity.
If you have a table in front of you, then a changing mat is
all you need. Otherwise you may need to use your seat. Eurostar
has changing facilities at all its terminals and on board all
it trains on carriages 1 and 18.
- Be prepared when coming up to your stop. In super efficient
countries like Japan and those of Northern Europe, high speed
trains stop for a short period of time, so its always best to
be standing at the door, with your little one and luggage ready
to disembark, otherwise you risk missing your stop.
- Make sure you have a small bag with nappies, wipes change
of clothes, muslins, bibs, milk and food all at hand, which
you can pop on the rack above your head. For guidance on packing
for your trip use our Packing List wizard.
- Take entertainment for your baby or toddler too. Babies are easier to please; bring one or two soft toys, a soft book and a rattle and you should be ok. Toddlers on the other hand bore easily and so a selection of items are needed. Pack a small activity bag with items such as a small tub of play dough, fat colour pencils and paper, a car, a few blocks, a couple of interactive books, with mirrors and flaps and two finger puppets (so that one can talk to the other). Try your best to make these activities last by giving them out slowly. Gift wrapping them will delight you toddler, and help entertain them for a few minutes longer.
- Book accommodation ahead of your arrival at your destination
and arrange to be met at the station.
- Ask for help from Railway staff should you need it. Most are
happy to help.