Trains have been my preferred method of travel since airport security started feeling like an invasion of privacy and an affront to civility. With babies there is an added bonus of the clickety-clack soothing motion to lull babies off to dreamland. Unfortunately, time and distance (and oceans) don’t always make this possible. But when it is possible, I thoroughly recommend it. Below you’ll find some tips for travelling on a train:
Show up a bit earlier than normal: you may need to get to the other side of the tracks which is a lot trickier when you’re carrying lots of gear. Especially if there are stairs. Since it’s unlikely that you’ll want to leave all your stuff on one side of the tracks while you place luggage on the other side of the tracks, this is normally done in stages. Stage 1: get everything up the first set of stairs, repeat until stairs are done. Stage 2: shuttle everything to the end of the hallway. Stage 3: carry everything down to the bottom of the stairs. Also, it’s handy to find someone who can tell you where the accessibility car is, so you’ll be standing at the optimal spot on the platform when the train arrives.
Accessibility car: travelling with an infant on a train couldn’t be easier, especially if you board the accessibility car. There is always the risk that this is already full because wheelchairs, other families and bikes are all jostling for this space. but this gives you plenty of room to put the pram and all the luggage.
Off-peak travel: whenever possible book on off-peak times. This isn’t always possible. We found out the hard way what standing-room-only feels like coming back from the Cotswolds once. We were rammed into a corner with the pram digging in our sides due to lack of space.
Food and water: since not all trains have trolleys and cafeteria cars (although the vast majority in Europe do), make sure to find out in advance if you need to pack food and water. No one wants to be breastfeeding with a dry mouth.
Prams: getting prams on and off trains is fairly easy. Simply push down on the handle bar and kick the front wheels high enough to get them onto the train, then lift the handles and push yourself on-board. Getting off the train is the reverse – I prefer to back-off the train as I feel it gives me more control. Often there is someone to help you board and disembark.