How to travel by train, with a toddler

March 19, 2013

Top tips for train travel with babies, toddlers and young children

Train travel with a toddlerWe’ve just got back from a lovely, long weekend in Sheffield (Eliza had a lot of Grandparent time, hung out with her cousin and went to a playgroup. Alex and I even had a baby-free night in the pub).

Living in London means we don’t need to have a car, and as we have no idea where our driving licenses are to hire one, we tend to use the train for journeys up and down to our parent’s houses.

There’s a lot of potential for this sort of travel to end in tears though. So taken from our experience, here’s four tips to ensure toddler train trips are slightly less traumatic than they could be:

  • Book your tickets way in advance: because then first class is much cheaper, and often around the same price as a standard ticket. It’s better to travel in first class as there’s so much more room for bags, prams and people. It’s often much quieter too; on our trip up we had the whole carriage to ourselves. And you get free snacks, and wine on weekday evenings
  • Travel light: when you’re getting all of you and an active little person on and off trains, the less luggage you have, the better. At Christmas, we solved this problem by shopping online and had presents delivered to our destination. If we go to my parents, I mainly wear my mums clothes so I can take as little as possible (thanks, mum!) But take as many things to distract as you can carry. Books, non-noisy toys, snacks galore
  • Plan for the trip to take place during nap time. Eliza used to instantly fall asleep on trains, for the entire journey, whatever time they happened. Now she is older she’s mostly awake and constantly curious about everything, but at least if the journey is in the region of her usual nap time, there’s a chance she might fall asleep
  • And divide and conquer. We’ve found it easier to take it in turns to do the entertaining duty while the other person has a rest / sneaky check of Twitter. Eliza is happily obsessed with books at the moment, so we both spent lots of time reading her favourites over and over. An the brilliant thing now she’s properly walking is that one of us could take her on a little freestyle toddle trip up and down the carriage, which she loved

Does anyone have any more suggestions? And if you’re not going anywhere, here’s my tips on navigating London’s public transport with a baby (I’m not a trainspotter, honestly!)


  • shirley

    March 20, 2013 at 4:09 pm

    leave yr clothes at home as good old primark everywhere u go ti.
    fill yr bag with interesting activities for baby.
    play singing action songs quietly to wear baby out.
    travel in evenings where you can prepare for bed,play a bit then
    more chance of them sleeping the whole

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  • J. Jordan

    March 28, 2013 at 3:31 am

    Great tips, especially the “divide and conquer” 🙂

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