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Travel with Children- guest blog by Granny

Parents often worry about travelling with children. They worry about travel sickness and disruption to routines. I have found that travelling with children can be fun, but you need to plan ahead.

Some children are reported to love travelling by car, but my children did not! They did not enjoy being strapped in the car seat, and also got travel sick. Trying to drive at the same time as see to a crying child is distracting and almost impossible. I always found it much more comfortable to travel by bus or train, if possible. Children enjoy interacting with other people, and there will be other passengers to look at on a bus or train. On a long train journey it is also possible to walk up and down and stretch your legs. An added benefit is that you can feel smug that you are doing a good thing for the environment by not driving.

I have found that walking around and accessing public transport is a useful life skill for older children to acquire. From a young age they can be taught to cross a road, look out for directions and platform numbers. As they get older they can learn about reading the timetables and maps. If travelling by bus, you can get a lovely view from the top front seat of a double decker bus. But of course, travelling on a coach is not so pleasant. Most modern busses are designed so that you can wheel a buggy straight on, but obviously if you want to sit upstairs it is better to use a back carrier instead of a buggy for small children. It is also worth remembering to avoid travelling during the rush hour when it is quiet and also cheaper. Make sure you check out the bus times in advance by using a website like https://www.traveline.info/ which will let you know about all the public transport in UK.

Travelling long journeys by train is much easier than in a car, because your child enjoys having your full attention and is less likely to be upset. (Having said this, I am aware that nowadays many children are happy in cars watching videos for longish periods, but I am writing from my own experience) Travel sickness is less common in trains than in cars, coaches or ferries. The main problem with train travel in this country is the high cost.

The cost is the main reason why it is important to book as far ahead as possible. It is also worth buying a family railcard if you will use trains much. Most train bookings open 12 weeks in advance. Book asap to get the cheapest price, and to get a table seat with a window. (If you travel in Europe you may even have the choice to sit upstairs in a double decker train!) It is definitely worth having a table seat so that you can have more space. You can put your picnic on the table and also games or colouring books. I like to use the website https://raileurope.co.uk/ to book train journeys in UK and England. The good thing about this site is that you can set up a booking alert in advance. The booking alert sends and email as soon as bookings open, enabling you to get the cheapest price. You are a busy parent. You may need this reminder to make a booking.

There are advantages and disadvantages to taking a package holiday as opposed to booking independently. Packages can be quite cheap, but on the downside they often involve night flights, and the cost of getting to the airport is not included in the price. They take care of everything like transporting your luggage to your accommodation too, which can be useful. For me the downside of a package is that it almost always involves taking a flight, which as a Greenie I try to avoid. If booking independently you can travel at the time of day that suits you best….no need to be travelling late at night unless you choose to. Another advantage is that the train station will probably be near your destination, rather than you having to take a lengthy coach journey to your destination stopping at numerous different accommodation drop offs en route, as with many packages.

My tips to keep the price of independent travel down would be to get well prepared and book in advance. Book your accommodation in advance too. Another tip would be to take reusable water bottles and a picnic for the train journey. The food on trains is expensive and not very nice. It can still be difficult to find vegan options. If you have a reusable cup with a lid, the train staff will let you buy tea or coffee in this; but not if it has no lid.

The best thing about holidays with children is that they will be excited by any new surroundings. You need not travel a long distance to make them happy and interested. Everything is new and interesting to a child. So long as they are with you, have enough to eat and drink, the right clothes for the weather, they will most likely find it all interesting and absorbing.

Happy Holidays!

Fran Long

Parent and Grandparent.

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