Train Journey with toddler

I'm travelling to my parents house at Christmas with my (just turned) 2 year old, and we're taking the train.

I have a few Qs:

1. Which is the best site to book the ticket with? (i.e. less or no booking fees)

2. Two year olds travel for free, but is it possible to book a seat for them, and if yes, how do I do this?? He's HUGE for his age, so my legs would get really numb if he had to sit on my knee for almost 3 hours.

3. Any tips for entertaining a 2 year old on a train, and how to be organised, especially when we have to change at Sheffield?? I'm not overly strong, and I'm just wondering how I'm going to manage toddler, bags and pushchair!

(It's just a 1 way trip, we'll be going back by car!)
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  • Hasbeen
    Hasbeen Posts: 4,404 Forumite
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    What company are you travelling with? try them for advance type tickets.

    Where are you travelling from / to, consider a friends and family railcard £28/year to get approx 33% off

    Seats can be reserved for children but you would have to buy a childs ticket to get this.

    I am sure some experts will be along shortly, to give better advice
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  • My Son was always happy just to look out of the window to see what we could spot. Especially if its a journey that you're not familar with. Possibly get something like an I-Spy book and tick things off as you see them.
    I see plenty of kids now with colouring books/ story books to do.
    Thats the great thing about trains plenty of time to watch the world go by.
    Back on the trains again!

  • JQ.
    JQ. Posts: 1,919 Forumite
    We've done a few long flights and have found a series of new cheap toys or activities every so often works quite well. A new toy or activity every 45 mins seems to work for us.
  • If its a long journey, look into buying a family railcard. You are correct that 2yo do not need a ticket, but you can't reserve them a seat without one. As a railcard will get you a discount on both adult and child tickets it can work out more economic. For example, I travel from Oxford to York with my 2 children, I buy a family railcard for £26 per year. For an adult ticket only without a railcard it is more expensive than an adult+child with the railcard. The difference is more than £26, so I save just by doing 1 journey AND I get a reserved seat. We can get 3 of us into 2 seats. I actually travel 2/3 times a year, so the savings are pretty good.

    As for buying tickets, I usually go to the station to do it as you can pick exactly which seats you want, I get the ones near the toilet and the large luggage area so my buggy can travel unfolded. Try and get the proper table rather than the airline style ones.

    Sheffield is an easy one to change at, there are lifts and a bridge to get between platforms. I have always found staff very helpful there (I sometimes break my return journey in Sheffield as my dad lives there)

    As for entertainment, I use videos on my iPhone, books (the poor people sat near us got very sick of the gruffalo's child on one journey!). Take plenty of finger food, always good for distraction. Pens and drawing. Take a pad though, not loose paper. Don't try and potty train 5 days before you travel (from personal experience - what WAS I thinking...). A change on the journey is actually good as you have the distraction of packing up, getting off and re boarding to break the journey. Lots of talking about what is outside the window.

    Have fun, I love travelling by train with mine :-) however, no.3 was due last Monday (no sign yet) and I'm a little apprehensive about doing it with 3 of them!
  • Take something quiet like colouring in for him to do.

    Try and centre the train journey around his nap time.

    And for the love of god don't sit in the quiet carriage - they're not designed for toddlers who will struggle to stay quiet for three full hours.
  • This year I have done 2 return journeys from Manchester to Edinburgh with a 1year old.

    We booked a table seat, using a family rail card, booked on Trainline or Red Spotted Hanky. We took finger snacks, juice, a magazine, pad and crayons and the iPod/iPad and a few little cars :)
  • spiro
    spiro Posts: 6,403 Forumite
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    mysk_girl wrote: »
    You are correct that 2yo do not need a ticket, but you can't reserve them a seat without one.
    Not only can you not reserve a seat, if the train is busy the 2yr old can't occupy a seat you have to give it up to fare paying passengers.

    As to changing trains at Sheffield if you look here you'll see a good layout map.
    As you can see there are lifts to get you to the footbridge. Suggest you try and find out your arrival and departure platforms in advance as this may influence where you sit if you have to get to the footbridge.
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  • Stigy
    Stigy Posts: 1,581 Forumite
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    With regard to entering/alighting from trains with a pushchair (assuming you'll have one), I see all the time in my job, parents struggling to alight from trains with their pushchair 'nose first'. This can be dangerous if the little one isn't secured properly and is far less easy than reversing off. Seems common sense to me, but most don't do it this way for some reason. Give it a go, I'm sure you'll agree! Same with entering the train, nose first is obviously better. Parents tend to do this on entering the train though...I guess natural to do this nose first technique unless you use the trains a lot, or work on them?
  • thelawnet
    thelawnet Posts: 2,576 Forumite
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    pinkshoes wrote: »
    I'm travelling to my parents house at Christmas with my (just turned) 2 year old, and we're taking the train.

    I have a few Qs:

    1. Which is the best site to book the ticket with? (i.e. less or no booking fees)

    Completely depends on what stations you are travelling between.

    Could you say which they are?
  • skintchick
    skintchick Posts: 15,114 Forumite
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    How long is the journey? I've travelled into London with my toddler and that's just over an hour. She was very happy looking out of the window, reading some books, eating snacks and chatting to me.

    You could also try:
    games on your phone
    stories on your phone
    Exploring the train (walking up and down)
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