PROS OF TRAIN TRAVEL
More comfortable with the freedom to get up and move around
Straight into city centre locations
Trains are 90% reliable
Getting Off The Island
No matter how you look at it, we live on an island and to get off it we need to cross the water. Up until the invention of the Eurostar and Eurotunnel the only available options were on the ferry and flying. The quick connection between the UK and mainland Europe was revolutionised in the mid 90s with multiple train services, both passenger and vehicle. This has lowered the cost of travelling to Europe whilst opening up a world of culture and opportunity.
Eurostar is the passenger train which operates out of St Pancras station, Central London. If you book in advance prices can be very reasonable. Remember child tickets are available and under 4s travel for free as long as they don’t occupy a seat. Children also have a one bag allocation and prams can be carried on board for free.
If you are travelling solo with a child or expecting let Eurostar know, as they will support you with getting comfortable, giving you a hand to get your luggage on board. As with flying we recommend that you opt for a backpack that leaves you hands free as you might be lifting children on and off the train. Popping to the buffet for a coffee, whilst holding a child is an adventure in itself! The bag should be big enough to carry the Travel Potty as well, which will come in handy when trying to get them not to touch anything.
Always try to arrive 45 to 60 minutes prior to departure time; the ticket gate will close 30 minutes before departure so give yourself plenty of time, especially if you're connecting from another train service. No one wants to start their holiday stressed or rushed.
The great news with travelling on the Eurostar is that when departing from London you don’t have to remove the baby from the pram though Security, and there is no limit to the liquids that you can take on board. This means you can take as much milk as you like. Activity packs are also available for the kids to keep them busy and to pass the time.
The Eurostar departure terminal in London caters really well for little ones with baby-changing facilities and plenty of choice for places to eat and drink.
As soon as you board the train, you will see racks to hold bigger luggage just inside the door, so store your larger bags and equipment. Once you have found your seat you will notice luggage racks for smaller bags above your head. When you are packing your luggage to take on board, use your smaller day bag/backpack to keep the things that you need on your journey. This will keep you from having to run up and down the aisle of a moving train!
Each seat has a power socket, which means that with older kids it’s the perfect time to plug them in for a movie, sit back and relax. In addition, Eurostar have their own entertainment channel, and on some of the new trains kids can get involved in a virtual reality underwater adventure. If you are going to use an electronic device with the kids, we recommend using wireless headphones. When you’re looking for over ear headphones for kids the most important factor is sound control, so you can relax in the knowledge that you’re not damaging their hearing. We recommend the JBL JR300BT; these have a sound-safe system, are stylish and come with lots of stickers to decorate them (see our products page).
European Train Travel
The European rail network is substantial, there really isn’t a corner of mainland Europe you can't reach. When you start planning your adventures you will soon realise that there are multiple service providers and the task of piecing your trip together seems impossible. The good news is that there are plenty of websites that can take the stress out of planning and provide you with an itinerary and the best price available. Through experience we recommend using raileurope.com. The website is simple, easy to use and provides you with lots of options. Imagine dinner in Paris and waking up to breakfast in Venice!
The Eurotunnel offers a completely different experience to travel across the water. This gives you flexibility and comfort in a cost effective service. Whilst the Eurostar is definitely the romantic and scenic option there is something very special about putting your car in a train that goes under the sea… Your children will be mesmerised!
With the current uncertainty of travel due to Covid-19, this really does offer an exceptionally safe way to travel. There really is no reason to get out of your car.
When you make your booking you will be asked to enter your registration, which will trigger your booking on the automatic gate. Have your booking reference and payment card to hand just in case. This will give you a window hanger with a letter on it. If you fancy stretching your legs there is a terminal building where you can grab a coffee and snacks for your journey and use the facilities. This includes baby-changing facilities.
It’s a really simple process: Once your letter is displayed on the directional screens, return to your car and follow the directions to the trains.
Loading on to the train is a quick and painless process; just follow the direction and the station personnel. You will be asked to switch off the engine, apply your hand brake and open your windows a little. It’s that simple! The whole crossing only lasts about 40mins, and if you do need a toilet stop there are some on-board. However, these are not suitable for baby-change.
When you drive off the other side you’re straight on to the French autoroute and your gateway to the rest of Europe!