There was a period of about 2 years when Max was a preschooler, and we lived in Maynooth, Ireland and my sister lived in London. 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 you to take the ferry from Dublin to Holyhead, and then a train to anywhere in the UK for about €43. The exact price 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 really into Thomas the Tank engine, so spending time on trains was as much part of the adventure as visiting my sister in London. We decided to go as slow as possible, travelling 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
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. From Holyhead to Chester via Arriva Trains Wales.
From Chester to Crewe with the posh Virgin Trains.
From Crewe to Birmingham with London Midland.
Then from Birmingham to Oxford with Cross Country.
From 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 back.
And taking the infamous London Tube.
Train Travel with Young Kids
I’ve already talked about travelling with young kids, however, train travel is a particularly nice way to travel with kids.
- They don’t have to be strapped into their seats.
- There are bathrooms (though not always very nice, they certainly are handy when travelling with someone with a tiny bladder).
- Lots of time for one-to-one activities: reading, colouring, 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.