Top tips for train journeys with a toddler

So yesterday Boy2 and I ventured into London for the day. I’d arranged to meet my old uni pals so thought it would be nice for him to see them again and a great opportunity for Boy1 to have a day with daddy (one on one time is so important when you have children).

So off we went on the 0936 from Manchester. It’s been a few years since I ventured on a train with a toddler but I managed to remember a few important things….

  1. Advance Planning – book your train ticket in advance. Not only does it save save £££, but it increases your chances of being able to reserve a decent seat. Extra tip – if you select a seat with a table and near a toilet, you are more likely to get one close to the disabled area (coach C is a good bet) then you are likely to have space to park a buggy. 
  2. Timing – think about the time of your train. Avoid really busy times and work around meal/nap times. Do you really want to be stuck on a rammed train with a screaming, hungry toddler? I split his breakfast into two parts. Porridge before we left home then some toast on the train (which also kept him occupied) 
  3. Snacks – very very important for distracting little ones. Whilst 2 hours doesn’t seem too long, it can feel like an eternity with a bored little one. So plenty of rice cakes, fruit slices, raisins etc but I’d avoid spillable things like yogurt. 
  4. Entertainment – again, more distractions. Depending on the age of your little one, an iPad and headphones might do the trick (remember to download in advance!) in fact Virgin trains have just launched its Beam app which is great for accessing kids shows like Peppa Pig. But you’ll need to download the app before your train leaves. Books to read (thin ones) and colouring books are also a good idea. 
  5. Pack light – yes, with all the food and entertainment. It’s more about packing smart. Can you pack everything into one bag, or try to squeeze a bag into the buggy basket. Basically, you don’t want a massive bag hanging off your shoulders or handle bars. Rucksacks are quite a good idea to be honest
  6. Energy management – so you’ve arrived at your destination, but your child has been strapped in a buggy or pinned down to his seat for the past three hours. Try to find some time and space to let them stretch their legs and burn some energy. Make sure they also do this towards the end of your day. This is particularly important for your journey home. In an ideal world they’ll sleep on the train. 
  7. Meals – yep, talking about food again. But search for child-friendly places to eat in advance so you don’t have to pack to many meals, you aren’t wandering the streets at the last minute with a starving child and, most importantly, you know they’ll eat. 
  8. Sleep – try to aim for a return journey where little one will be ready to sleep, or at least winding down. We opted for the 64o. Once we were on the train, it was time for dinner (Ella’s kitchen obvs) a few books and a nappy change them he was clearly tired. I think the tiredness was down to letting him run riot in M&S for half an hour before a half hour walk to Euston a la point 6. So once he was in the buggy, he spent about 15 minutes mesmerised by passing trees, then fell asleep. 

Travelling alone with a little one can be daunting but also lots of fun. If you haven’t dared do it yet, I’d encourage you to give it a go. Nothing ventured, nothing gained! 

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