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Updated by Colleen Lanin on Dec 03, 2016
Headline for 5 Reasons to Travel Europe by Train with Kids
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5 Reasons to Travel Europe by Train with Kids

Since moving to Europe, my family has discovered a new favorite mode of transportation: the train. With five major train journeys under our belts, I’m confident rail travel will remain our preferred way to travel for the foreseeable future. Before we moved to England, the only train I’d been on for quite some time was a scenic Santa train. But rail travel in Europe is a whole different soccer match. High speed trains and an extensive rail network allow travelers to traverse Europe with ease. Here are the top


Trains capture the imaginations of young and old.

Trains capture the imaginations of both young and old. Perhaps it’s the classic childhood stories and songs that have endeared the locomotive to us. The Little Engine that Could was one of the first books I bought as a pregnant first-time mom. Thomas the Tank Engine. Chuggington. Trains are everywhere in childhood lore. My kids are fascinated by everything to do with trains.But it’s not just kids who are mesmerized by trains. There’s something romantic about the whole notion of rail travel. Maybe it’s the nod to a bygone era or the sense of history and exploration that trains encapsulate. The wonder and exhilaration of train travel is enough to convince even the most timid of travelers to embark on an adventure.

Train travel adds joy to the journey.

It’s not just about the destination when you travel by train. Surrounded by breathtaking scenery, the rail passenger is immediately immersed in the landscape and culture of Europe. On a train, the journey is as important as the destination.A train’s huge windows beckon kids and adults to watch and wonder and become entranced. Picturesque villages, dramatic coastlines, fairytale forests, rolling countrysides, and spectacular mountain ranges are just some of the views a European train journey has to offer. Topping our family’s bucket list is this trip through the Scottish Highlands, with scenery Harry Potter fans may recognize from the Hogwarts Express!

Trains are less stressful.

Anyone who’s taken a road trip with kids knows how stressful it can be. The parent not driving spends the entire trip straining backwards, picking up dropped toys or settling quarrels. Food ends up everywhere. Someone always needs to use the bathroom.Air travel isn’t much better. As if being crammed into tiny seats with no leg room isn’t stressful enough, first you must survive the lead-up to flying. Long lines, baggage restrictions, and security checks can make flying with kids a dreaded event.Enter trains. No need to arrive hours prior. No long security lines. No counters where bags are weighed and excess fees are paid. Arrive at the platform a few minutes prior (30 minutes if traveling by Eurostar) and board the train. Then sit back in a spacious seat, enjoy the view, and relax.

Train travel is cost effective.

At first glance, rail travel seems expensive. With European discount airlines sometimes offering fares at insanely low prices, it can be hard to compete. But train travel is quite competitive against regular airfare, particularly when you take all costs into consideration. On an airplane, lap babies up to age 2 fly for free. On trains, babies AND young children (on some railways up to age 6) are free, and youth have reduced fares. Costly baggage fees can make air travel expensive and inconvenient. Trains have no additional fees. If you can make it fit (within reason), you can bring it. In addition, many discount airlines are based at airports well outside major cities meaning parking or transportation to and from distant airports needs to be factored in to the total cost of travel.But is rail travel cost effective when compared to driving? Quite possibly. On average, gas prices in Europe are double that of the U.S. Currently, they’re almost triple. Add to that the cost of rental cars and the headache of navigating roads and different driving regulations, and you may very well choose the train.


Rail travel gives kids more freedom.

Rail travel gives kids more freedom.

On a train kids have room to spread out, freedom to move around, and more control over their surroundings. There are no seat belts and no carseats. Frequent bathroom trips aren’t a problem. Diaper changes don’t require pulling over the car. Dropped toys are easily recovered. My kids feel, and frequently even act, like little adults on trains.Not sure all that freedom is a good idea? Book your seats around a table. That way the kids have even more space to spread out their “stuff” and the adults use their aisle seats to block the little ones in. A table also encourages more interaction and quality family time while you travel!Breathtaking scenery abounds when traveling Europe by train with kids (Photo credit: Stacy Jessee)Trains in Europe are kid-friendly and offer an excellent alternative to driving or flying. The whimsical experience, captivating scenery, and convenience for families make it a cost effective option for traveling with kids. But most importantly, it’s a mode of transportation almost guaranteed to engage your children and get them excited about more than just the destination!Would you travel Europe by train with kids? Let us know in the comments below!