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Tell CrossCountry about your top train travelling tips and you could win return train tickets worth up to £500 - NOW CLOSED

(188 Posts)
KatieBMumsnet (MNHQ) Fri 12-Jul-13 14:12:31

CrossCountry would like to know Mumsnetters' top tips for family train journeys. Here's what they say: "Summer holidays can be a very manic time for families. Not only do we encourage families to take advantage of the extent of the CrossCountry network - connecting major cities like Manchester, Cardiff, Edinburgh and York - but travelling by train also means that as a family you can sit back, relax and enjoy the views. We're keen to find out what parents find most valuable about travelling by train and where best to visit, so we can help share your tips with other families."

So, do you and your family travel by train? What would your top tips be for other MNers travelling with their LOs? Are there any essentials you take with you? Maybe snacks or activities for your DCs? Or is packing light the key to a stress-free journey?

How about your favourite places to go for a family day out by train? Where would you suggest travelling to?

Share your top tips and train stories on this thread - everyone who comments will be entered into a prize draw where one MNer can win a complimentary standard return ticket for up to four people, valid between any stations served by CrossCountry trains up to the value of £500.

Please note your comments may be used (anonymously of course) by CrossCountry in PR and marketing materials, their website and possibly elsewhere so please only comment if you're happy with this.

Thanks and good luck,


CrisisCritical Fri 12-Jul-13 14:15:23

"Complimentary" tickets eh? Oh I do love a train ticket that says nice things about me. Think you might mean complementary.

[really smug emoticon]

Trills Fri 12-Jul-13 14:15:56

Gin and tonic in a tin from M&S has more gin than Gordon's.

Trills Fri 12-Jul-13 14:16:11

(yes that is a train travelling tip)

KatieBMumsnet (MNHQ) Fri 12-Jul-13 14:23:52

blush thanks CrisisCritical

gazzalw Fri 12-Jul-13 16:46:26

We do a small backpack for each child complete with books/comics/snacks/enough water to last the trip (and some extra just in case of delays.../a family type game like miniature Cluedo/playing cards and colouring pencils and books for the younger one. Plus DW and I would both have our tablets fully charged and ready to roll for watching films/YouTube online. Also a map to show the train route so that they can see how much distance we are covering.....

Favourite places for a day out are less than two hours each way - York (just about) for a really fab day out which makes us feel as if we've really been far away and done different things. Otherwise, Cambridge, St Albans, Brighton or Bournemouth all fulfill our brief to combine fun with culture and an enjoyable change of scene!

I would always err on the side of caution with snacks and drinks just in case there's some type of delay and the buffet car runs out (it happened to us once when DW was 7 months pregnant!) of provisions...

Also, DW always packs a facial spritzer, a Cologne stick and a damp flannel to wash grubby hands and keep cool, calm and collected....

And never underestimate going for a stroll along the length of the train with younger children.....once an hour seems to really help break up a very long train journey!

MegBusset Fri 12-Jul-13 17:11:21

Actually "complimentary" is the correct spelling. Definition 3 here

"Complementary" means additional.

CMOTDibbler Fri 12-Jul-13 17:15:26

We like going on the train, even though the line from our town is terribly unreliable due to the single track sections.
My tip is to pack luggage into several small bags as the luggage sections get so full. That way you can put bags under the childrens legs or above your seats. Stuff on the train things into a carrier bag in the top of one or more bags so it can easily be pulled out without an unpacking palaver.

MegBusset Fri 12-Jul-13 17:15:57

Anyway... I love train travelling with the kids. Take colouring books/pens, magazines/books, food and drinks - it's really expensive to buy them on the train.

ShatnersBassoon Fri 12-Jul-13 17:24:33

We have started a tradition of travelling to my mum's by train in the summer holidays, simply because it's a lot more fun than a car journey even though it takes more than twice as long.

My top tip is to give older children the task of checking the timetable and looking at the travel information boards when we have to change trains. A little bit of responsibility goes a long way and has so far ensured I get one of the children 'on my side' for the duration of the journey.

Pascha Fri 12-Jul-13 17:35:44

I like Trills' tip smile

aristocat Fri 12-Jul-13 17:35:46

We love the train too, we take a snack and drinks each and DD will take a book. DS might play his console but they enjoy looking out of the window too (as do I). We take Top Trumps too and fit everything into a small backpack - not too much to carry smile

DD has been studying timetables recently so she was very keen to help with journey planning last time we went on a train. We would go to Coventry/Birmingham/Worcester/Chester and London.

glenthebattleostrich Fri 12-Jul-13 17:59:43

Third Trills tip smile

Where possible, book in advance and try to get first class seats, especially if travelling with small children. The seats are bigger, you get a table seat and tea / coffee is included so you don't have to go to the buffet car.

When travelling with a toddler try to make sure they are quite tired as the train tends to send them to sleep (or it does mine and all my mindees) take lots of snacks, drinks, crayons, toddler friendly apps on phone and stickers, magazines with plenty free tat and books.

We have a toddler back pack which all DD's food and drinks fit into so she can delve in there. It has a lead so we can go for little walks around the train too.

Arcticwaffle Fri 12-Jul-13 18:05:23

A few train-travelling tips I learned the hard way:

If travelling with a family on a popular line on a Saturday in summer, do book seats. Sitting on your rucksacks in the corridor may take you back to student days but your small dc may get squashed underfoot.

If travelling by train in Italy don't take snacks to eat. Even if you caught a 7am train and thought you could breakfast on the train. It's not done at all.
But in the UK packing a picnic passes the time nicely and that's OK.

If taking small dc on the train and you have the great idea of making them each carry a small backpack with their own essentials in, do ensure it doesn't contain the whole Sylvanian Family collection. It costs a lot to replace that when it's been left behind on a train. Pack cheap disposable toys and books.

My dc don't usually get comics or magazines so a train journey is a chance for them to buy one each, usually with cheap plastic toys (to fit my point above). These are quite useful if you're travelling light.

Sometimes it's surprisingly good. Going on an overnight sleeper with an active 10 month old was actually fine. I don't know why but this was one of the easier train journeys we did.

Arcticwaffle Fri 12-Jul-13 18:08:39

Another tip. If you're a family of 5 and therefore have to book a set of 4 seats around a table + one spare, do beat your DP to the lone seat. And relax, listening to the distant cries of Uno, Snap etc.

iwantavuvezela Fri 12-Jul-13 18:14:04

Definately like others have said a backpack full of tricks! Pens, paper, all those party bag toys are good to stuff in. We have a travel set of hangman which is great fun. Innotab good as well. Stickers and sticker books, magazines all help.
As well as activities lots of little snacks to break up boredom.

Hanginggardenofboobylon Fri 12-Jul-13 18:33:52

My tip - it's probably cheaper to drive

hernow Fri 12-Jul-13 18:47:59

grin Hanginggardenofboobylon grin

Boysboysboys Fri 12-Jul-13 18:48:13

Get a friends and family railcard, it's cheaper for us to get the train than drive, take snacks and pens. Play eye spy. Take alcohol in a hip flask.....

orangeshortbread Fri 12-Jul-13 19:01:03

Taking a flask of tea or coffee saves money on buying hot drinks at the station!

MimsyBorogroves Fri 12-Jul-13 19:06:32

Buy drinks and snacks before going. Charge kindle.

Wherever possible travel by car wink

Wiifitmama Fri 12-Jul-13 19:56:48

We travel everywhere by train. S much nicer than a car as the kids can get up and move around. Lots of snacks, a backpack each with books and toys, electronic toys like iPods, DS's etc. nothing else needed really as they just enjoy the travel!

majjsu Fri 12-Jul-13 20:03:54

Making the journey fun is key, from colouring books to stickers, playing games from I spy to small board games. Having a picnic on board. Also take an IPad or DVD player too.

We love visiting Durham, York and Edinburgh.

Train travel can cut out the hassle.

LadyMaryQuiteContrary Fri 12-Jul-13 20:25:10

Headphones and a nintendo ds so that he doesn't inflict repetitive sounds on the rest of the carriage shame the other people with loud music can't do the same. A little bag with snack and a drink, and a book incase the battery runs out but pack light so that you don't have to lug it around with you when you reach your destination. We play a lot of games on the train too, like i-spy or who's the first to spot a cow. We've travelled first class a few times so didn't need snacks and a drink (oh, those were the days). We travel to London quite a lot, that's great for a day out. Virgin used to do a kiddy pack (back pack with stickers/colouring), that was lovely.

Planning ahead is important so you know which platforms you need to get to and how long you have to get there in case you have to change trains. It can be a real nightmare to lug a buggy and bags to another platform in 5 minutes.

tanfastic Fri 12-Jul-13 20:29:44

Download a good film and take the iPad. It's a godsend for keeping child amused during a five hour train journey from Blackpool to Oxford smile

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