Travelling by rail is exciting, but it can be pretty expensive these days. Eco-friendly trains were made for children of all ages though and they offer scenic vistas, time to play, and most important – time for you to relax. Instead of driving yourself, let the conductor do that for you. Here’s how to make the most of your next rail trip.
Book Your Trip in Advance
This is how you save money. Travel on off-peak hours and seasons. Booking in advance also gives you the option of choosing to be close to the buffet car and to the toilets. Being close to the latter is especially nice if you’re travelling with toddlers.
You don’t want to take just one kid to the loo while leaving your luggage unattended – being near a bathroom means you can keep an eye on everything. For some trains, you may have to book by phone as online services might not give you your choice of seating.
Kids love toys, and it’ll keep them entertained on long distances. iPods, Nintendo 3DS, a colouring book, fiction novels, even a laptop can keep your children entertained the entire trip. Once you get your kids set up, you can lean back and take a nap – with one eye open of course.
Ask Staff About Stuff for the Kids
Sometimes, trains have goodies for children. For example, Virgin Trains offers free activity packs in school holidays. They don’t always hand them out, though you can usually pick them up in the buffet car or ask staff for them.
Buy a Family and Friends Railcard
For £26 a year, it saves you one-third of your faire and 60 per cent on child faires. You can take up to 4 adults and 4 children, but you have to have at least one child to get the discounted rates. If you’re travelling a lot, it’s going to pay for itself after a few trips.
It also comes with a free membership to the YHA (Youth Hostels Association) and up to 35 per cent off hotel rooms at the Holiday Inn and Crowne Plaza.
Charge Your Mobile
A mobile phone can be a life saver. If you’re delayed or if the worst case scenario happens – the train breaks down – you’ll have some way to contact family and friends and let them know what happened. A mobile (if it’s a smart phone) can also keep you informed about the weather at your destination so you can be ready when you arrive.
Bring Your Own Food
You may not want food from the buffet car. If you bring your own, you control what you and your kids eat. Plus, it’s good to bring non-messy food and drinks just in case you’re delayed or kept in the carriage for some reason. Your children will be kept occupied with food, you won’t have to travel all over the train to find something to eat, and – if you have a lot of children – you can more easily keep an eye on everyone.