Family LIfe, Parenting

10 Tips for Train Travel with A Toddler

10 Tips For Train Travel with a Toddler

My son  and I ventured out for our first ever journey on a train this week. Before we set out I couldn’t figure out why it had taken me so long to brave it. By the time we got on the train,  I knew why. Toddlers, even pretty well behaved ones, are, lets face it, nutters. So here’s 10 Tips for making train journeys with toddlers less like hell…

1. Book a seat in advance – don’t assume the train will be relatively empty just because you’re not travelling at a peak time. If you can reserve a seat, do. At least that way you know you’re guaranteed a chance to sit down at least for a little bit.

2. Book a window seat – let the world whooshing past outside entertain them for a bit. Eye spy is a lot easier with changing scenery too.

3. But don’t book a table seat – if it’s just you and your toddler,  that is. They will be under that table before you’ve even pulled out of the station.

4. Don’t underestimate how long it will take you to get to the right bit of the platform – we left 10 minutes to get from the a end to the b end at Birmingham New Street,  and still didn’t make it all the way before the train arrived. Toddlers walk S.L.O.W.L.Y.

5. Don’t overestimate how long it will take you to get to the station – I learned this one the hard way. If you’re stuck in a souless train station for an hour and a half before your train (which will inevitably be delayed if you’re really early) your kid is going to get bored and decide to run laps around a display in Paperchase, and create a notebook tornado. And high five those charity people you’re desperately trying to politely escape…

6. Make sure your electronic devices are fully charged – the view of the world going past at superspeed will not keep them content for long. If you don’t want to be chasing your kid up and down the aisle, have a few of their favourite episodes downloaded and a few quiet games on a tablet. Puzzle ones are particularly good becauseyou can pretend they’re educational.

7. Travel light – you’re going to need both hands (if not more) so a backpack is King here. If you can persuade your kid to wear their backpack too that’s even better.  Also, keep some money and your phone in an easily accessible pocket so you don’t keep having to take your backpack off to get to your purse or wallet.

8. Snacks – the last thing you need is your toddler getting a serous case of the hangries  (that’s hunger related anger by the way…)

9. Leave the buggy at home if you can – or left luggage if needs be. Lugging a cumbersome stroller up the stairs on a Virgin Pendelino on your own is a battle in itself, never mind getting your toddler to stand still while you do it and finding a space in the luggage rack anywhere near your seat to store it. If you’re travelling with another adult or older child you might just get away with it, otherwise you will be counting on the kindness of strangers. Unless you have one of those awesome teeny tiny strollers that fold up to the size of a handbag…

10. Have fun! Going on a train journey, no matter how long, will be a super exciting event for any little one (heck, I still love a good long journey on a fast train!) Make your journey an adventure, part of the nice thing you’re going to do or see – if you’re excited, they’ll be excited too.

Travelling anywhere with a small child can be a nightmare, but if you prepare ahead of time,  it can be a great joy too!

This post first appeared over at in March 2016; I’m part of their Blog Squad.

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