Whether you’re planning your next family staycation, a fun weekend away with the kids or an adventurous day trip to keep the little ones entertained, train travel is the perfect option for transporting your family from A to B. With lots of fascinating sights to see along the way, no need for any emergency toilet stops, comfortable seats, and free on board WiFi, travelling with kids by train couldn’t be easier. To ensure a smooth-sailing trip for all of you, we’ve got plenty of family travel tips to help you along the way.
Pre-plan, pre-book and prepare
To make family holidays extra-enjoyable, make sure you plan ahead. Start looking into family-friendly destinations with a range of activities that will work come rain or shine. Once you’ve decided, get the map out and choose your rail route before steaming ahead with your itinerary. To avoid hassle and to save money, it’s often best to book train and attraction tickets in advance. Check out our flexible range of cheap train tickets, group travel options and railcards for big savings.
Research train station facilities
Swap stress for a seamless family travel experience by researching our station facilities ahead of your journey. You’ll be able to find out whether there are toilets and Wi-Fi facilities, as well as the opening hours of our ticket offices. It also pays to know whether there are shops at the station to pick up essentials like water, snacks and books, or whether you need to get organised and come prepared with those for your train journey. You can also find out what car parking options are available and use our app’s car parking availability checker to prevent any parking panics.
Use train tickets on your phone
To save you precious time at the station, make the most of our paperless ticketing and keep them on your phone with our eTicketing option. To get started, simply download the SWR app from the App Store or on Google Play. From there you can do everything from browsing ticket options and exploring routes to purchasing tickets and getting your family’s eTickets ready to scan from your phone at the gate.
Try to travel off-peak
It’s a good idea to book an off-peak train when travelling with children. Not only can you save on ticket prices, but the station will be calmer outside of rush hour and the trains will likely be quieter too. You’ll still have plenty of flexibility when it comes to your ticket options, so that you can pick the best time to suit you when planning your family trip. For the extra-organised, breathe a sigh of relief as you can book as far as 12 weeks in advance. Sign up for cheap ticket alerts, and look for off-peak ticket options in your journey selections to see just how much money you could save.
Don’t forget the drinks, snacks and essentials
If the little ones get hungry, the tears and tantrums begin. So, ensure you’re prepared for a long train journey by stocking up on all the essentials. Have plenty of water to hand to children thoroughly hydrated on long train journeys and come armed with plenty of snacks for when they (and you) get peckish. Kids love a picnic, so make it part of the adventure with their favourite sandwiches, sweet treats, juice cartons and more. Be prepared for every scenario, too, by packing other essentials such as napkins, wet wipes, plasters, hand sanitiser and spare clothes for spills and accidents.
Keep the kids entertained
Train travel can be exciting for kids, and while looking out the window and playing ‘I Spy’ will get you so far, it pays to have some extra tricks up your sleeve to keep them entertained on longer journeys. Get creative with activities like cards and mini jigsaw puzzles that work well on our tray tables. Travel games like Scrabble, Monopoly and the classic Connect4 are also great options. Or why not download a guessing game app on your phone like Heads Up to get their minds ticking?
Free kids’ activity packs
Looking for screen-free entertainment or forgotten something to keep the kids entertained? Don’t worry as our ‘fledgling’ activity packs will keep them busy on the train.
Featuring our new mascots Wes and Sandy, each pack includes an activity booklet, colouring pencils, and a piece of paper for an origami task. From spot the difference and dot-to-dot to a word search and maze, time will really fly by.
If you would like an activity pack, please speak to a member of staff.
Once you’re on your train for your family holiday, make the experience as comfortable as possible by packing a few handy items that’ll help you truly relax into it. We’d recommend travel pillows, blankets in case it gets a little chilly and eye masks so you can all get some shut eye ahead of your adventures the other end. If you’re travelling light, consider scarves that double up as padded pillows, and jackets or blankets that can easily be packed away.
Prep the kids & relax the rules
Enjoying the magic of train travel with kids can be a thrilling experience, but it can be overwhelming and daunting for tots at times, too. The best way to combat tantrums, panics and any mishaps is to prepare them well ahead of the trip by explaining how busy stations can be and how important it is to stick together at all times and get them excited by letting them know what the journey will entail. Kick back and relax the rules a little to allow for the fact this is new to them and prepare fun journey milestones for every half- or full hour such as a game or a treat. Make sure you’ve got all the aforementioned snacks, essentials and games packed, and don’t forget to take a few snaps to look back on, too.
When you travel with South Western Railway, we strive to make your journeys as seamless as possible so that you can make the most of your family holiday with minimal hassle. From the free station Wi-Fi and shops where you can grab those last-minute bits and bobs, to ensuring your time onboard is comfortable and entertaining with free WiFi on board, we’ve got you covered. For more travel inspiration, tips and all the information you need to get from A to B, check out our blog hub.