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Tantrum free trips: taking your kids on the train

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Entertaining kids on the train

Creative Commons License. Available from: http://www.flickr.com/photos/clairity/1443811585/

Travelling with children can be a challenging experience but there are loads of reasons why taking a trip on the train is a great idea. As well as being more environmentally friendly than flying or driving, travelling with kids is often the cheapest option as there are usually plenty of train deals available for families.

Of course, travelling with youngsters can be a bit of a daunting prospect. But with a little imagination and planning a lengthy journey can be turned into a fun experience. If you’re taking a long trip with children in tow we’ve written up some top tips on how to keep your kids entertained on the train.

1. Get them involved

Get your kids involved in the planning of your trip early to spark their interest. When you book your tickets, show them the route your train is going to take and research some of the sights that you’ll see on the journey.

One of the best things about travelling by rail is the opportunity to see the changing landscape as you travel. It gives you a real connection with the countryside and learning a bit about the landmarks you pass by can keep your children interested throughout your trip. See who is first to see the sea as you speed down the east coast of Scotland, or how many bridges you can count as you pass through Newcastle. Why not give your kids a checklist to tick off as you go? Some are easy to spot like Durham Cathedral, others like Charles Jencks’ reclining woman in Northumberland flit past and are gone.

2. Get them gaming

Recent developments in smartphones and tablets have revolutionised mobile entertainment so put some of it to good use on your trip. We asked a couple of blogging mothers what apps their kids loved and they gave us the inside track on some of their favourites.

• Emma, who runs The Mini Mes and Me, revealed that her kids love popular mobile games. She said, “My children’s favourite apps are angry birds seasons and where’s my water.”

• Top blogger Jo Beaufoix said, “Apps wise we love Talking Henry, Tocaband, Simpsons, Tree World, Aerox and Temple Run. These keep my two laughing and smiling.”

There are so many choices that you’re bound to find something to keep your youngsters occupied. And tablets can play films and videos so load them up with your kids’ favourite shows before you take off to the train station. Luckily you can plug your devices in to charge on the train so don’t worry about having enough battery life to last a long rail journey.

3. Go old school

You don’t have to rely on technology to keep your kid’s entertained. As Jo Beaufoix adds: “We also always have a pack of playing cards with us for ‘go fish’ ’21 pontoon’ and ‘snap’, and we’re now teaching the 8-yr-old rummi….or is it rummy?”

A pack of cards is a great addition to your travelling entertainment repertoire but there are loads of other things you could do as well. The key is to have lots of alternatives – if the interest in one starts to flag you’ll always have a fresh source to draw on. Here’re a few examples of the things you can do:

• Eye-spy: This old classic may seem a bit tired to you but one of the good thing about young kids is that pretty much everything is new to them!

• Colouring books: Another classic activity, although stick to a fairly low mess medium for the colouring in – crayons rather than pens.

• Puzzles – If you’ve got a book of kids puzzles then you can dip in and out of it when needed, letting your kids do crosswords and word searches when they need some extra mental stimulation.

4. Keep it all self-contained

If you’ve ever travelled anywhere with kids then you’ll recognise the need to carry everything you need with you and when you’re taking a train trip it’s no different. For example, although there are facilities on the train where you can buy snacks and food it’s often better to pack your own selections of snacks.

You know what’s best for your child, and what their preferences are, so keep everything you need close hand. Likewise, if nappy changing is going to be an issue then ensure everything you need is within easy reach. Manoeuvring around even a quiet train can be difficult so make things as stress-free as possible.

5. Take your time and enjoy the ride

Travelling by rail isn’t just about making the most of train deals; it’s about convenience and comfort. A long journey will give you the chance to spend a good chunk of quality time with your kids so make the most of it. These are moments to cherish so search out some cheap train tickets and get ready to relax with the most important people in your life.

Do you have any tips for travelling with kids?

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