The SailRail pass is a fun and affordable way to travel between Ireland and the UK. Learn about the trip we took with our preschooler.
There was a period of about 2 years when we lived in Maynooth, Ireland and my sister lived in London, UK. We spent the time going back and forth to visit each other or getting together in other European cities.
One of our more memorable trips was when we decided to travel the old-fashioned way via the SailRail pass to London.
The SailRail pass allows travelers to take the ferry from Dublin to Holyhead, and then a train to anywhere in the UK for an affordable price. The exact cost depends on which ferry you take and the end destination. Taking the fast ferry or a more direct train will cost more.
At the time of our trip, Max was 3 years old and really into Thomas the Tank Engine, so spending time on trains was as much a part of the adventure as visiting my sister in London. We decided to go as slow as possible, traveling to London via Oxford, which was much less direct. However, the whole trip only cost €90 for all three of us (under 5s ride for free). And we got to check out plenty of trains!
A slow journey
The trip started at 6:05 am when we left Maynooth on a double-decker Dublin Bus. Then we caught the free StenaLine bus from central Dublin (Westmoreland Row) to Dublin Port.
It was a 3-hour ferry ride and there was plenty to keep us entertained. The onboard services included:
- a cafe
- exclusive lounge
- bar (which wasn’t open in the morning)
- movie theatre (tickets were €8)
- gift shop
- children’s TV room
- sleeping rooms (there were LOTS of those, suggesting that it sometimes functioned as an overnight ferry)
After a quick lunch break in Holyhead, we started our train journey. We went from Holyhead to Chester via Arriva Trains Wales.
Chester to Crewe with the posh Virgin Trains.
Crewe to Birmingham with London Midland.
Then we went from Birmingham to Oxford with Cross Country. That was where our SailRail journey ended.
After spending two nights in Oxford, we took a commuter train into London Paddington.
From then on our travel involved two things… walking about the city with Max on our backs and taking the London Tube.
Train Travel with Young Kids
I’ve already written about traveling with young kids, however, train travel is a particularly nice way to travel with children.
- They don’t have to be strapped into their seats.
- There are bathrooms (though not always very nice, they certainly are handy when traveling with someone with a tiny bladder).
- Lots of time for one-to-one activities: reading, coloring, and card games.
- The rhythmic movement of the train is ideal for napping.
- As a passenger, not a driver, you also get to relax and enjoy the trip.
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