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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,


Allalonenow Fri 12-Jul-13 20:30:17

I enjoy train travel, I always take a snack and a drink with me.
If the journey involves any changes, I print out sections of the timetables, so if there is a delay Ive got a good idea of other possible connections.
I also have a look at station plans beforehand, so that I've got a rough idea of whereabouts I need to get to in the station for the connection. It's amazing where stations like Crewe hide platform 15B.

I agree with Trills though a ticket inspector once told me I couldn't drink my M&S G&T as I was on a football special, he relented though I'm pleased to say!

LapsedPacifist Fri 12-Jul-13 20:49:10

Always book in advance to save money and to reserve seats. Nothing worse than maneouvering kids and luggage the entire length of a packed train looking for non-existent empty seats! shock

Use rucksacks rather than suitcases wherever possible, they can be squashed onto the overhead racks and under seats rather than discovering too late there is no room for cases in the luggage section of the carriage hmm and more importantly, they leave your hands free. I used to wear 2- big one on my back and small one containing purse, tickets, phone etc slung frontwise Left one hand for DS and one to carry the folded buggy when navigating stairs and escalators just pray no-one pushes you from behind

If you can budget for it, use taxis rather than public transport to get you to the station. Cuts the stress and uncertainty of train travel by about 90%. Nothing worse than being stuck on a stalled tube or bus knowing your train is due to leave in 10 minutes <bitter voice of experience>

Get a family and friends railcard.

Bumpstarter Fri 12-Jul-13 20:53:10

Ask politely insist to be moved to the first class when the air conditioning breaks down.

BreadNameBread Fri 12-Jul-13 21:02:34

If you book ahead of time train tickets can be amazingly cheap.

Remember to glare and tut at anyone making a noise in the quiet carriage.

I love travelling by train.

BreadNameBread Fri 12-Jul-13 21:05:40

There are lots of good train apps. I use the National Rail one which shows all the train companies. If I am meeting my Mum (from a CrossCountry train smile then the apps give all the info I need - the time of arrival and the platform.

dahville Fri 12-Jul-13 21:18:16

I like travelling by train as opposed to the car because we don't have to stop every 2 hours to give the baby a break from the car seat; it allows us more freedom.

For our toddler we bring paper and crayons, snacks we know he enjoys and our smart phones, fully charged, so he can look at pictures or watch videos. All baby needs is milk and nappies ;-)

Melissakitkat Fri 12-Jul-13 21:21:41

Hi, we have just got back from a 2 week train journey across Europe with our 7 yo dd. we went from London to Paris to Munich to Vienna to budapest to Bulgaria then on the way back we also did Zurich. We mainly went on overnight sleeper trains and it was all rather civilised and easier than we thought it would be. Also quite cheap though the most expensive part of the journey was eurostar.

For the uk part - we used our friends & family railcard - such a bargain!

We also took our iPad with some films on it in case of boredom but barely used it. We did though play lots of games of hangman. Another game at train stations was a version of 'where's wally' where one of us had to name a colour then we had to try to see someone wearing that colour.

Snacks are very important - most of the overnight trains provided a free breakfast and water but on top of that I kept a bag full of both sweet & savoury items. We also collected receipts and pamphlets on the way to put in a scrapbook.

Other top tip is children's ear defenders as some train platforms can be quite loud.

We also took a bad for dd and it had a special pocket on it to put her bear in which kept it safe and looked so sweet.

Hth, mel x

Melissakitkat Fri 12-Jul-13 21:22:05

Bag! Not bad!

LittleSporksBigSpork Fri 12-Jul-13 21:27:25

Pack snacks, drinks, something well charged for a movie and ensure everyone over the age of 18 months has their own seat. Not sure if it works for CrossCountry, but for other East Midlands companies you call up with details from national rail and will make sure to book tables for larger groups - very good for larger groups and keeping an eye on everyone. Very lovely.

Puppypoppet Fri 12-Jul-13 21:29:31

We love travelling by train. We like to book about 12 weeks in advance to get the cheapest rates. Most recent trip was to Edinburgh which we really enjoyed. Top tips - bring along a few snacks, small toys and possibly Nintendo DS / borrow parents smartphone for games. Remember to take along wet wipes and tissues (in case WC not well stocked!!). Also nice to take along a comic or book or two for DCs.

Being based in York we are pretty much in between Edinburgh and London so they are our favourite destinations, but also like Newcastle and Durham.

catwithflowers Fri 12-Jul-13 21:58:54

Check and double check before making your Internet booking. Especially when booking after 3 glasses of Sauvignon Blanc blush Manchester can look suspiciously like Manchester Airport after a few drinks. This can really mess up your holiday plans and costs a bloody fortune to put right.

catwithflowers Fri 12-Jul-13 22:01:14

Actually, that's not so much a holiday tip as an admission of my complete incompetence. Oh dear blush

teabagpleb Fri 12-Jul-13 22:10:30

If planning long journeys, sign up to the rail company's email alert for when they cheap tickets come out (East Coast and Scotrail do this), so the minute you get your email you can book your £19 sleeper to Scotland or whatever.

If you didn't reserve seats for your toddlers, get to your terminus-starting train early and the lovely staff will help you get to an unreserved table - no idea why they put all reserved seats right next to each other and then have an empty carriage, but they do.

NormanTheForeman Fri 12-Jul-13 22:38:36

I'd agree with taking your own food and drink - train/station food and drink can be very expensive and not always much choice. Also take stuff to do on train. Books, colouring stuff, puzzle books etc.

Taking a train-nerd ds with you can also be useful. As in, they will know enough to ensure that you are at the right part of the platform to get onto your pre-booked coach! grin

scoutfinch1 Fri 12-Jul-13 22:50:34

Don't try and travel on a friday evening- nightmare. Any other time train is an easy way to travel even more so if you plan ahead and know which platforms you need for any changes etc.

sharond101 Fri 12-Jul-13 23:19:33

We have just moved near the railway and 1 year old DS now waves at every train going by. Looking forward to travelling to Balloch with him and the steam train from Fort William will be awesome.

Tommy Fri 12-Jul-13 23:43:32

on the first train journey I tool the DSs on after DS1 had learned to read, I printed out a list of all the stations we would stop at and he had to tick them off as we passed them. For some reason, he really liked this and got very excited when the name on the station sign matched the one on his sheet grin

HairyPoppins Sat 13-Jul-13 00:06:02

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

mirai Sat 13-Jul-13 01:17:19

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

courgetteDOTcom Sat 13-Jul-13 03:12:12

get the friends and family ticket even if your children are under 5 as it's cheaper.

I travelled with two under 5 and booked a child ticket and a table, it meant that I never had to have two on my lap as they had enough space to share.

courgetteDOTcom Sat 13-Jul-13 03:14:44

If you've got kids and baggage, ask the help desk or ticket office if there isn't one, for someone to help and to ring ahead for you. An extra pair of hands is always useful.

Thevelveteenrabbit Sat 13-Jul-13 07:22:20

Don't pick the only direct train to London on the first day of half term without booking seats - you will be sitting on the floor with a lot of other people!
Have written a scavenger hunt for the children to do - looking for things out of the window. A white House, sheep, cows, tractors etc that kept them occupied on the way to York.

ifindoubtnamechange Sat 13-Jul-13 09:23:04

I love travelling by train, a lot more straightforward than flying and time is similar between Edinbrgh/Glasgow and London as you just get on and go, no lenghty security. DD is 2 but I would take her pushchair to strap her in for a nap, otherwise she won't relax enough.

Don't take your kids into the quiet carriage!!!

Onetwo34 Sat 13-Jul-13 09:29:16

Take lots of small snacks, lots of small toys, have a couple of apps on your phone or tablet for the children!

And have paperback books to read and an activity book, stickers or colouring in.
I factor in the possibility of a long delay. Usually we just look out of the window and talk about what we see, and everything packed is unused, but if you do get delayed, you'll appreciate your things. It's easy to carry it all in a big rucksack, and children like having their own little bag.

Reserve seats.

I think slings just edge out prams for train travel, but that's because of the escalators in busy stations I usually change at. If you wouldn't go via any escalators, a pram would possibly win! Depends if you need it at the other end of course.

I love going places by train. Much less stressful than driving because you can all interact so much more on the journey, you can even get some homework done! And I really like seeing all the scenery. Even ordinary journeys between boring, everyday cities can have some stunning views.

GetKnitted Sat 13-Jul-13 10:00:19

We just travel short distances or on heritage rail for a treat. Top tip, wait until the little ones are old enough to play quietly with a book, activity book or dvd (if there are sockets!) that's another tip, only travel on routes with new trains

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