We can all relate to that 'butterfly in the tummy', excited feeling when we were young ones and getting ready for a new adventure. Who wasn't excited by their very first train journey, especially if that meant a visit to London for the first time, or if that train journey marked the start of an eagerly-awaited holiday and you were heading off to the airport.
But for adults, the thought of a train journey with children can be filled with a hint of anxiety, especially when it comes to quelling that excitement for a few hours and keeping the little darlings occupied.
Our hosts at Hull Trains have plenty of experience in how to make train journeys with children delightful. Here's their advice below:
Preparations should start well before the train journey by looking at what your rail operator offers in terms of family-friendly seating; spacious carriages; cleanliness of toilets and baby changing facilities; WiFi provision and charger sockets; on-board catering and a direct connection to your destination. These are all essential components in the bigger 'successful journey' picture.
For parents, to avoid the hassle of scrambling around for your tickets when you're trying to keep your eyes on the children, download the Hull Trains App - this allows you to buy and store your tickets on your phone!
Action those Activities
Pack a good selection of activities to keep the children occupied in between their snacks, films and Apps. Some train operators will provide free kids packs on-board. If not, consider taking some good old fashioned activities, including small puzzles, colouring books, stickers and word searches. Hull Trains' bespoke kids packs include a jigsaw, board game, stickers, 3D model of a Hull Trains and an activity book and crayons! All for free!
There are plenty of toddler and child-friendly Apps around to keep children entertained. Make sure though to check the WiFi service on the train. You'll need a reliable and consistent service and preferably one that doesn't require you to sign in again if the connection is lost. Take a look here at Hull Trains' industry-first 4G-enabled SSU WiFi service!
It's a good idea to resist the temptation of handling out sweets to the children on a long journey as this can make them even more excitable. Pack a mixture of savoury snacks and fruit - raisins often work well. A trip to the buffet car can also break up the journey and is a good excuse for a stroll up and down the carriages with the promise of an edible snack at the end!
Family Friendly Seating
Reserve your seats in advance to ensure you are seating at a table and preferably next to a window. This is essential for keeping your kids occupied with at-seat games and activities. Also having a window seat opens up the opportunity for plenty more games and activities!
Complete a travel diary
Get your children to begin a travel or holiday diary from the moment they step on to the platform. When they're on-board, they can jot down all the interesting things they see out of the window en-route, as well as the names of their on-board hosts and the stations they passed through.
Watch a film!
An easy one to help you kill a chunk of the journey time. Either download one in advance of your journey, or if you're travelling with Hull Trains you can watch You Tube videos or log on to CBeebies to watch programmes and play games, thanks to our free WiFi service. If you're travelling with another operator, make sure they can offer free 4G-enabled single-sign-up WiFi in all carriages, not just first class.
Pay attention to the station
Many railway stations have places of interest within them that the children can explore pre-departure or on arrival. At Kings Cross for example , the kids will delight in a stop off at the famous Platform 9¾. You can also share and hunt for some of Kings Cross most interesting facts and features - just take a look at the Londontopia website for ideas. At Hull Paragon Station, there's the famous Philip Larkin Statue - a lasting legacy of the Larkin25 commemorations and the poet's connections with the city of Hull.
Allow the kids to control the fountains at Kings Cross!
When you arrive at Kings Cross, you can download an App that lets you transform the fountains in nearby Granary Square into a giant game of Snake! Granary Squirt is a world first and an app that turns your smartphone into your very own fountain remote control unity - all ready to download and play at Kings Cross - offering something to entice the children with that they can play on arrival at the station.
Don't forget your charger!
Your smartphone or laptop charger is likely to be essential on a long train journey. At Hull Trains, we have installed USB charging sockets in addition to our standard plug sockets, so squabbles about who wants to charge up their device are at least one less thing for you to worry about!
Remember that travelling by train with children is safe, comfortable, and affordable when planned in advance. Hull Trains have some of the lowest priced tickets in the UK and you can save up to 60% on the price of tickets when you book in advance.
Plus, if you're heading to London on the train, don't forget that Hull Trains' offers fantastic 2 for 1 savings on many London attractions meaning that you can enjoy a variety of London attractions for the price of one by presenting your valid rail ticket.