Whether you are a parent or teacher you can use a train journey as a great educational experience for your children. Here are some tips to help you:
Try to travel off peak if you can; by avoiding rush hour you avoid the crowds and it’s cheaper. Also look out for group deals if you are travelling as a class or youth club. In the UK the Friends and Family railcard gives really good discounts off children’s prices and the adults travelling with them.
Plan your journey together and teach them how to read a timetable. It’s a good chance to practice 24 hour clock and they will need to understand the meaning of any symbols by looking up the key.
Use it as an opportunity to learn about the history of different towns and cities which may be quite close to you but are not be somewhere you would have thought about otherwise. Most stations have printed tourist guides to attractions in the region – pick some up to read on your train journey and you may be inspired to plan another trip later.
You may want to combine your train trip with a bike ride. If you are cycling to your local station and want to leave bikes there, find out about cycle storage in advance – many stations nowadays have good facilities.
If you are taking bikes on the train it may be obligatory to book a space for your bikes so again, make sure you check in advance. Listen for announcements or read the screen to find out which part of the train to get on with your bikes (it’s usually front or back, so good to know in advance).
Many of us adults have taken our children on steam trains for a special day out. But getting our children familiar with using mainline trains for the purpose of getting somewhere is an important step towards them becoming confident, independent travellers.