Traveling on public transport can be a new experience for baby but you will need to be selective about what you take with you as you will have to transport your luggage as well as your baby. Getting off and on different modes of transport can sometimes be tricky so don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it.
The big advantage of traveling on public transport is that you can give baby your undivided attention during the trip which is something you can’t do in a car! It can also be a fairly low cost way to travel.
If you are booking a seat on a bus, coach, train or ferry always mention the fact that you will be traveling with a baby or young children and ask for the most convenient seating available. Look out for special deals when traveling with a young family. Some train and bus companies offer free or discounted seats for infants. It is often cheaper to purchase a family card too ( if available) rather than buying individual tickets.
Take a surivial kit with diapers, a change of clothes, baby wipes etc.but make sure it is packed into an easy-to-carry hold all bag.
If possible take a lightweight travel stroller which you can fold with one hand, leaving the other one free. Alternatively put your baby in a baby carrier, either strapped to your front if he is still very young, or on your back if he is large enough to sit up on his own.
Taking Baby On A Train
Traveling on the train with a baby’s pram can be relatively simple but if the station has a lot of steps to negotiate ask one of the staff to help you. Check the local railway website before you leave for details of any “wheel chair” access as this will usually mean there are ramps or maybe a lift that you can use for your pram or stroller.
The good thing about train doors is they are usually wide enough to get a pram through without having to fold it up. If the train is not too crowded you might decide to leave your baby in their pram during the journey but remember to put the brakes on and keep a firm grip on the handle at all times.
little girlIf you going on a long journey children aged 2 to 15 years often travel half-price. Trains are very family friendly and some companies offer activity tables in their waiting rooms , activity fun bags for young children and baby changing facilities onboard.
Unlike airlines, train companies do not usually have a restriction on what you take on board so you will be able to take your stroller, car seat, and diaper bag as carry on luggage.
If you prefer to have your hands free while getting around the station, consider using a back-pack style diaper bag and make sure you pack everything you think you might need for your baby’s care on the train. This includes food, diapers, baby wipes, medical supplies, some new toys, clothing that can be layered and a blanket. The air inside the train can be quite dry for babies and at times a little cool.
Babies and small children do get bored easily when they are sitting still for long periods of time. The good things about train travel with a baby or young children is you can get up and move around the carriage more freely than traveling by plane. You can go for walks to check out the lounge, look out the giant windows or visit the dining room.
Many babies find the motion of a train soothing, however it is always best to take a favorite toy, a blanket and a story book to help keep your baby entertained
If your budget allows, book a sleeper compartment for a more restful night on long trips with a family. Alternatively consider buying an extra seat for your baby so you don’t have to carry baby on your lap the whole way. That way if the train fills up you still have a little extra room to put your infant’s car seat, let you baby play, or store your diaper bag within reach.
The front row seats usually have to most room to store a car seat or put your baby down on the floor for short periods of time. Ask for these when you book your seats if you are traveling alone with your baby.
Taking Baby On A Bus
Travelling by bus is not always as easy as the train although a number of bus companies have introduced “easy access” doors with low entrance platforms that nearly meet the ground so that strollers can be taken directly onto buses with minimal effort. Older style buses may still have two or three steep steps and a very narrow access for prams and strollers.
If you travel regularly on buses consider investing in a lightweight collapsible stroller that can be easily folded with one hand and carried on board along with your baby or stowed in the luggage compartment underneath for long trips. Try not to travel during peak times so there will be more room for you and your baby gear on board.
You might want to use a baby sling or carrier instead of trying to fit a large pram on a busy bus.
When taking your baby on a bus you will need to pack a diaper bag (similar to our train travel above) with all the essentials such as snacks, diapers, baby wipes, a change of clothes and toys, games or books to entertain your baby when he gets restless.
For older babies or children an ipod or ipad loaded with games, songs or movies might help to pass the time.
If you are going on a long trip consider changing your baby before you board the bus to make it easier for both of you.
Taking Baby On A Ferry
Traveling by ferry can be relatively easy as most ferries have a ramp to get on and off the boat, making it easy to roll a pram on board . If you do encounter stairs the ferry staff or fellow passengers will be able to help. There will be plenty of room for your stroller and travel bags which makes it easier for everyone. Some larger ferries have lifts fitted which are reserved for the use of passengers with wheelchairs, prams or strollers.
Safety on board a ferry is always an issue if you have toddlers or young children. Young children will love watching the ferry pull away from the wharf but make sure they have adequate supervision and consider using harness and reins to keep an adventurous toddler safe.
Pack a travel bag with all the essential items including some drinks and snacks. Food can be very expensive to purchase on board a day ferry and the choice can be limited so it’s a good idea to pack your own picnic.
Check the ferry’s website before you leave to find out what facilities they have for families. Some ferries are able to supply travel cots and some have special play areas for children, video arcades and even cinemas which showed kids’ movies.
If you are traveling overseas by ferry you might have the choice of booking a cabin or a pullman seat (which is similar to an airline seat but a bit more comfortable).
A cabin is obviously the more expensive option but it will make the trip more enjoyable if you are on board for awhile. If the ferry company doesn’t have travel cots, consider taking your own. There will be enough room to set this up in a cabin so you can stick to your baby’s regular bedtime and routines. A cabin will also allow you some privacy and if you have older children they will love the idea of sleeping on a boat in bunk beds!
Taking Baby On A Tram
Modern trams tend to have a “low-floor” design which allows them to load passengers at a height just above the side walk. This makes taking a baby on board relatively easy.
If you are travelling with small children try to keep them seated where possible. If you don’t have a seat make sure everyone is in arms reach and that you all have something to hold on to.
Baby prams or strollers are allowed but remember not to block the doorways. If your baby is in a pram put the brakes on while traveling and hold on tight to the handle.
Trams sometimes stop for a relatively short time so be prepared to get off safely by gathering up you belongings ahead of time.
The Tourist Trap
Watch out for tourists who try to defy gravity by not holding on!
I read an amusing account from a mother in Amsterdam who says:
“I have observed an unusual phenomenon in tourists when they get on the tram. They seem to think that the laws of gravity cease to apply to them the moment they step through those sliding doors. For everyone else it would make perfect sense, if you enter a moving vehicle, it would be an awfully good idea to hold onto something when it starts moving. Not so for our tourist friends….” (Source – www.amsterdam-mamas.nl)
One particular tourist fell onto the mother’s baby in his pram, as the tram went around a corner. Amid the shouting of the other passengers she managed to pull the man off her baby and shove him down the tram. Fortunately no-one was seriously injured but it something to watch out for!
Do you have an amusing story about taking a baby on public transport?
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