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train travel with toddler

(24 Posts)
puffling Tue 21-Aug-07 20:10:09

I'm thinking of taking dd on a 3 hour train journey from Manchester to Reading. My memories of train travel were of standing squashed like a sardine all the way from Bristol to Hull.
Could anyone give me any tips about what days and times are less busy? Otherwise, I'll have to fly to Gatwick and I'm increasingly terrified of flying.

NannyL Tue 21-Aug-07 20:16:45

i took a 15 month old from near Portsmouth to the middle of wales

I also took the car seat and strapped him into it... im sure he thought as he was in his car seat getting out was not optional

we also had a couple of changes to break the journey.

In one leg of the journey he had lunch... fed lots of finger food, and anoterh leg of the journey he slept!

It really wasnt that dab in the end!

mustrunmore Tue 21-Aug-07 20:22:22

It takes us 5 hours door to door to get to my mums, but that includes the tube plus one or 2 changes on the trains.I'd never do it alone with both boys, but with 2 adults its ok, as ds1 (3.5) can have a wander to the loo, the buffet car, the bit by the doors. He lso really liked the fold up tables in the priority seating! Also, we saved some activity packs from pizza express/wimpy etc for the trip, and a wipe-off book, and a couple of little cars to produce to avert behavioural issues! Lunch can really be spread out, esp if you give a coin and let him choose an item from the buffet himslef and pay etc(a cheap thing!!). They also brought us a virgin bag with activites in this time, which we've never been given before, and he quite liked!

puffling Tue 21-Aug-07 22:25:04

Thanks for the tips NannyL and Mustrunmore. DD loves her food so I can definitely use up some time feeding!
can anyone give any tips on when the least busy time to travel is?

Whooosh Tue 21-Aug-07 22:30:23

Middle of the day seems best in my exoerience.Biggest problem is if you have a station with no lift-forcing a toddler out of the pushchair and hanging on to said toddler whilst dragging a buggy up the stairs.
Actually on the train there are lots of "spotting" games,plus food which can pass the time.

fransmom Tue 21-Aug-07 22:35:31

i have been told by a railway ticket lady that if we had booked a family railcard and used that to help book tickets, dd would have had her own seat, we might have been able to get a seat with a table, so it's worth popping down to your local ("manned")railway station and asking about different tickets that are available for families.

that way you are more relaxed and your dc is more relaxed too instead of having them squirming on your lap and wanitng to run round. btw dd loved being able to see out of the window and lookig at the different animals and scenery

puffling Tue 21-Aug-07 22:41:41

Thanks Fransmom and Whoosh. I'll look into the family railcard thing.

fransmom Tue 21-Aug-07 22:42:21

's ok

def ask ticket personage tho

MerlinsBeard Tue 21-Aug-07 22:46:16

you DEF need to reserve seats for u and your toddler.

travel over lunch time. manchester piccadilly is buy all day long but more so before 9 and at 5 onwards. travelling at lunch will fil up the time a little bit. how old is your toddler? last time i took thw boys on the train i tok loads of things for them to do including fave comforter.
be prepared to walk up and down the train a few times too and take your own drink as they are a rip off on board!

fransmom Tue 21-Aug-07 22:48:50

i forgot about that! also take a packed lunch (you don't have to eat it at lunch) and their fave beakers (with lids of course )

the buffet car is a def rip off, especially invented for travellers with more money than sense and for those who forgot to make sandwiches the night before waking up late on travelling day

puffling Tue 21-Aug-07 22:51:17

Mumofmonsters, she's 17 months so the problem with lunch travel is she won't be able to nap.

Whooosh Tue 21-Aug-07 22:54:18

Admittedly not been on a long train journey with dd (age 2) but I often leave her buggy in a convenient space and let her have her own seat.
Have never had anyone ask to move her and put her on my lap.It may be wrong,but no tmany people will argue with a toddler!

MerlinsBeard Tue 21-Aug-07 22:58:32

aah ok. right.

would she not nap on the seat?

NoBiggy Tue 21-Aug-07 22:58:36

If I can butt in here, we've been on a local train, where I can leave DD in the pushchair in the vestibule, what are you supposed to do on a 125 type train?

MerlinsBeard Tue 21-Aug-07 23:05:12

i don't know w hat 125 train is.

if i am travelling quite far on a train and it means i need a seat, i either get in next to gurads van/toilet where there is usually more rom or leave the trolley with the brake on in the doorway and be prepared to move it every time it stops.

nowadays there is provision for wheelchair users so there should be a space.

puffling Tue 21-Aug-07 23:06:57

Thanks everyone. feeling more confident about going by train now, although still considering plane if anyone can cure me of my fear of flying!

fransmom Tue 21-Aug-07 23:09:47

trains are less expensive and more fun for littlies if things are taken for them. read on thread ages ago that if you put a suprises bag in your luggage where you can get at it, then dig out a suprise every hour or so or when boredom starts looming then it breaks the journey up for them. things like little colouring books or lift the flap books kind of thing

Whooosh Tue 21-Aug-07 23:30:45

Oh trust me-planes are easier than trains!!!
Even if they runn off-they can't escape or get lost-the worst they can do is annoy other passengers but that can be dealt with.
I feel far more confident on a plane with dd than a train as I know she is safe-and there can be a little more to entertain them so don't rule it our-you will be on a plane before you know it!!!

NoBiggy Tue 21-Aug-07 23:35:50

125s

No guard's van on them, I imagine you'd have to fold the pushchair and stow it in the luggage rack. I can't see how I'd manage that with baby + toddler + bags.

Clary Tue 21-Aug-07 23:52:53

I used to travel by train a lot to London with first DS1 and then DS1 and DD (stopped by the time we got to 3 for various reasons).

It was always fine - took lots of books, colouring, booked a seat of course (tho not for under 5 so hoped for empty one next to me!), walked up to buffet and back several times, looked out of windows, no worries.

A lot easier than car journey in many ways. I recall taking DD on once in her buggy and she just slept all the way!

janek Tue 28-Aug-07 21:07:45

we travel by train a fair bit, and our dd has been known to fall asleep in her pushchair on the train (much easier if she's asleep when we get on though - what about travelling around nap-time and pushing her to sleep in buggy before getting on train - i can recommend walking to the station). virgin trains often have a bike compartment where you can park a buggy (at the opposite end to first class - figures!). even if there is no bike compartment, i would recommend the vestibule at the end, rather than one halfway through the train for a sleeping baby as there is less through-traffic (people i mean).

also, re family railcard - we have used ours to buy bargain tickets on 'peak' trains which would have cost £200 if we had not had the railcard - they obviously want to rip off the business traveller, but not families.

scienceteacher Thu 30-Aug-07 07:17:56

I travelled from London - Edinburgh with a three year old, in First Class. I have to say that it wasn't particularly comfortable because DD & I had to share a seat (I didn't buy her a ticket), and there wasn't much space with the large table.

Logistically, I had a sling for her, and took a small wheeled case. My main concern was getting from the Underground to Kings Cross, and this was a good arrangement.

Chirpygirl Thu 30-Aug-07 08:13:45

I travel by train to my mums a lot (about once every 6 weeks or so), takes about 5-6 hours with 2 changes so here are my tips! (DD is 18 months now)

I travel on a thursday and monday and have never had problesm with getting a seat.
I normally sit in the disabled bit as on most trains you can squish a buggy next to a wheelchair (if there is one, which there always is on my trains!) and she can stay strapped in.
The other bonus of the disabled part of the train is the access is easier and there is a wider bit of the corridor in case you do need to collapse buggy.

Kids find napping surprisingly easy on a train, same as a car.

-Have plenty of water, lots of train windows don't open any more
-take lots of non messy food and forget a set mealtime, just feed them
(raisins, biscuits, scotch pancakes, raisin bread, bananas, cheerios...)
-Take crayons/papers/stickers and a travel aquadraw (crayons come off train seats with baby wipes blush!)
-Have books and cuddly toys in a bag for her and pick one out as needed for distraction
-Only take as many nappies as you need for the journey and buy more at the other end.

Most important, always have an easily collapsible buggy.
The 2 or 3 times I have had to collapse buggy because a wheelchair got on the guard has always helped me stow bags etc

grannyslippers Thu 30-Aug-07 20:20:22

With that journey you will be on Virgin trains, on one of the Pendolino's I guess.

I did a trip with Virgin trains, three hours to York, with 2 toddlers. You should get a family railcard, then phone to book seats and ask them to reserve you somewhere quiet and near to the wide-access wheelchair area.

We were on hellishly crowded trains - I couldn't even find the wheelchair area, and I basically had to leave buggy and bags in the vestibule (the size of a phone box), go and put children in seats, leave them screaming, come back to fetch bags and fold buggy.

There was no luggage space with room for a buggy, all small boxy spaces aimed at briefcases I think. I had to take all three wheels off the Phil & Ted's much to the amusement of fellow passengers.

To be fair, the nearby passengers helped to calm the boys down and were really kind about the travelling circus that we turned out to be.

I did find taking this seat with me to be a godsend, you can loop the strap around the train seat and once strapped in the child is much less likely to fiddle, climb, run off, bug people etc. It's my secret weapon for travelling now and I'm hoping they will let me use it on a plane in a couple of weeks.

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