The prospect of travelling with children on trains can be daunting, depending upon the length of the journey – the longer the route, the stronger the difficulty. Such, however, need not be the case all the time, with all the people. With a little bit of preparation, I have found train journeys to be fun and I daresay, even educative. You just need to plan right from the preparatory stage. Here is a list of suggestions. Go through them to make the next train ride with your children an enjoyable experience. I follow some of them myself and have found them to be rather useful.
Make easy reservations
It is never a bad idea to make your train-ticket bookings well ahead of time. This way the whole family gets to travel together. It is no fun if the family gets split up and is scattered through different chair-cabins. Adults traveling together can take care of children traveling together – engage the children when your partner takes a quick nap. This is only possible if everyone is seated together. I make reservations so that even if I am traveling with strollers and heavy luggage, it is close at hand. This way, it also does not have to get in the way of other fellow passengers.
Plan the meals
Even the most easy-going of parents can run up a list of things that can go wrong on a train-trip. From the meals to the washrooms, the entertainment to the company – there are a bunch of variables. If you are covering a short distance, carry light snacks for the children. Finger-food and easy nibbles will ensure that they do not go hungry. However, if it is an overnight haul, I prepare differently. Depending upon the age of your child, carry their meals with you.
Baby food ought to be the first thing you pack. For my older child, I carry sandwiches and juices – the sort of food that travels well. Most overnight trains offer pantry service. If your child is old enough, order a hot meal from the in-train catering service. Children always look forward to it. Pack in hand sanitisers in copious quantities and keep them close at hand. You may need them at anytime.
Keep them entertained
Many of them read books, others prefer their iPads. If your child is an avid reader, ask her to carry the books she wishes to read during the trip. Talk to your children about your destination to get them excited. My kids love trains. I usually try to arrive early at the station for them to check out the big display boards or the manner in which the trains pullout and pull into stations.
During the journey, you can play games to spot interesting things outside the window of a moving train, or vocabulary development exercises. Toddlers will probably need something more basic. Download movies and cartoons on the iPad. This way you do not have to use Wi-Fi and blow your bandwidth. I try to keep the electronic devices charged for uninterrupted entertainment on trains.