Our friends at Voyages-sncf.com (formerly Rail Europe), French National Railways team in the UK, say they totally understand how stressful holidays can sometimes be. All that planning, then the packing, travelling from A to B without a mishap… it can take its toll. So, they shared their top ten tips for maintaining your sanity whilst keeping all around you peaceful and calm when travelling with kids in France. Of course as they are experts in railway travel their first tip is to travel by train:
1. Forget the long check-in queues, the increased security, the debacle over cabin baggage allowances and cramped seating. In their place, take the train and enjoy the journey, mix with the locals and admire the scenery. The kids can even get up and stretch their legs with a walk to the buffet car. And another big bonus is that children aged under 4 travel for free!
2. Pre-book specific seats on board trains. You can even request family spaces with tip up tables and more space. Your train might also be a double-decker so check this when you book. In France particularly, many long distance high speed trains are double decker – very exciting for the kids!
3. Travel overnight and start the holiday with a real adventure – what could be more exciting than bedding down on a train in Paris and waking up the next morning in Italy or Germany?
4. To avoid the trauma and tears that come from the loss of a favourite toy, attach it to your child’s bag so that it can’t be left behind anywhere you go.
5. Keep a supply of small treats on hand to reward good behaviour and to encourage tired children to keep going just a little longer. However, watch the sugar levels and go for cereal bars, fruit, and healthy snacks instead.
6. Tattoo your kids! But not literally of course – write your mobile number on their arm in case they get lost.
7. A lot of European train stations have free WiFi hotspots. If you can’t tear your teenager (or yourself) away from a phone or tablet, these can be a great opportunity to allow them to update their status!
8. With older children, play the geography game in stations. Look at the departures board, and work out which country each destination is in – this is great in big stations like Gare du Nord and Gare de Lyon in Paris, which have international services.
9. Learn alongside your children. Aim to learn a new phrase or two every day and encourage the children to use the phrases they have learnt. Start them young while they’re less self-conscious and the local people will be delighted to hear kids making the effort and attempting the language.
10. Look for wide open spaces where the kids can let off steam. Many of Europe’s cities have lovely parks and gardens where children can run around quite safely.
To find out more about taking the train with your children this summer, visit www.voyages-sncf.com. To book specific seats, call them on 0844 848 5848