We recently embarked on a trip with Southeastern Railway to discover their hidden gems of Canterbury and it was one of the most enjoyable journeys we have had as a family. We discovered that trains are environmentally friendly, there’s no traffic, comfortable and sometimes even quite relaxing! We tend to drive or fly to most destinations but with an active toddler and a 5-year-old it is a lot easier walking them up and down a train than it is having them strapped in their car seats.
Train fares can be expensive but with Southeastern Railway they always have amazing offers on. For example Off-Peak Day Return start from only £15 this summer, and kids aged 5-15 can travel for just £1! There are 12 destinations to choose from packed with hidden gems and fab things to do. You can read more about the offer here.
Right so let’s get stuck into my top tips for travelling on a train with children.
My first tip would be to pre book your tickets in advance. It’s better to be organised and it will also mean a speedier journey from platform to train. Who has the time with small children to queue for tickets?! That said, of course if you need to be more flexible you can also purchase these summer offer tickets on the day of travel. If your children are young like mine they might find stations quite overwhelming. Arrive early and let them explore the platforms, meet inspectors etc.
Tip – Try and book a table seat so you and your little ones have space for your activities on board.
2. Once on the train and comfortable start off by discussing with your children about the adventure ahead. My two love to know what’s about to happen in advance so they are not overwhelmed and are fully prepared. We love to talk about what adventures lie ahead and the fun/cool places we are going to discover.
3. Another fun activity to do on board the train is to sit, cuddle and look at the beautiful rolling hills of countryside. They love to point out all the different colours of fields and the animals they see. We also play eye-spy whilst looking out of the window which is always fun.
4. Sticking with entertainment bring colouring pens, books for writing, even homework if they are a school aged child works wonders at keeping everyone happy. I actually find colouring very therapeutic and it is a fab way of helping the time pass by. Fun games to play with a pen and paper include – noughts and crosses, hangman and pictionary.
5. To iPhone or not iPhone that is the question? Well we do and it does the trick of buying Freddie and I the time to relax with a hot drink and a natter. We download a few of their favourite TV series, movies and fun educational games. Just remember to bring headphones so you’re not too noisy and disturbing other train passengers.
6. Snacks and food are important – it is if you have children like mine anyway! With no luggage requirements you can bring a big picnic to feed the family. My two love snack time and so I always stock up on all of their favourites for our train journeys and days out. I make sure they are ready to hand and I have two of everything so there are no arguments.
Tip – bring as many wet wipes as you possibly can and antibac so you provide a quick wipe down before and after food.
7. A great way to entertain the children is to let them choose a few toys to bring in their rucksacks. Max chose Lego and Emmie wanted to bring a few dolls and a puzzle, we had so much fun playing and laughing. It isn’t something I can rarely do with the children whilst travelling it’s usually me that is driving!
So that’s my tips, all 7 of them to hopefully help you travel with your little ones as easily as possible by train. I have to say we had a great time travelling with Southeastern Railway and the quality time we had a family on our way to and from Canterbury was amazing. With two under five travelling by train means we were able to let them indulge in their wandering tendencies. You would often find us walking up and down the carriage with the littlest (another fab tip by the way).
If by the way your destination of choice is Canterbury here are my hidden gems – the places you definitely have to visit
– Westgate Gardens: a beautiful garden by the River Stour, there’s punting and even a 200 year old plane tree!
– The Crooked House: a house that looks like it is tumbling over. It’s weird and wonderful features will stop you in its tracks
– St Dunstan’s Street: if you’re all for supporting for independent shops this street is for you. From cafes surviving delicious food to boutiques.
– Fancy a snack then head over to Cite Crepes for the most delicious crepes with all the toppings
– and one you always have to visit when in Canterbury is Canterbury Cathedral. It is one of the oldest and most famous Christian structures. It is so beautiful and forms part of the world heritage site.
What are your tips for travelling by train with children?