I love travelling by train. Regardless of the number of times I heard bad things about Polish railways and awful Central Station in Warsaw (not anymore!). I always loved trains.
When I worked in my previous company I travelled around Poland a lot. We had a driver and could reach any place by car, but whenever it was possible I went for a train. It’s similar right now – there were times when my partner reached a certain location by car, while I took the train. I like this moment in the morning when I quickly buy a ticket, my favourite sandwich and coffee at Costa Coffee and steadily wait for my train to arrive. I like sitting in the compartment with my coffee and looking at the first sunrays and Warsaw coming back to life. I like trains because I can work while on them, sleep, browse Facebook back and forth and because I’m much less tired after getting off than after a car trip. And I even get the feeling that I catch up on things. Perfect!
Despite our love for trains it wasn’t our first choice for trips around Poland with Maks for quite a long time. We tested the extremes abroad – night trains in Vietnam (one took 14h!!!) and a night route from Tbilisi to Yerevan. That surely was a better idea than a dozen hours on a bus! An adventure, some adrenaline and a trip to the unknown! In Poland we usually travel by car because it makes us in charge and we can always check some spots on the road. ‘We’re in Tricity but we would like some smoked fish – let’s drive to Jastrzębia!’. I get the feeling that many of our friends do the same. They don’t even think about travelling by train in Poland and with a child! Because how? Why if I have a car?? How about you?:) If you’re part of this group, today I’m going to persuade you that it’s worth it! 🙂
As I was preparing to write this post I was sitting on a 4h-long train from Zakopane to Cracow (I know I know, that’s a bit too much) and I asked Maks why does he like travelling by train:
– Because you can do things on a train, you can take all your toys out. You can draw, paint, play with toy cars and trains and even with Pendolino if somebody gets one like I have!
I asked Łukasz what does he like trains for.
– It’s comfy!
– That’s all dad? I said more than you did!
So I added some more ideas from me to the ones from Maks!:)
10 REASONS FOR TRAVELLING BY TRAIN WITH A CHILD
1) MOMMY, I WANT TO PEE!
How many times have you nervously searched for a petrol station because ‘Mommy, I want to pee!’?? If you’re travelling frequently it must have happened to you on many occasions! We go through it all the time, especially with Maks who seems to be treating peeing as a form of entertainment. Because they have to stop.. And when they do, maybe I manage to make them buy me a toy car or a sticker album?? 🙂 Maybe a 2-year-old is not that clever, but my sneaky 4-year-old makes me wonder sometimes 😉 On the other hand I cannot ignore it because there’s always a risk that Maks really needs to pee and he won’t make it for much longer. So we stop and wait and it always takes some time.
How a about a train? Toilet is always on hand! I have to admit that the ones in Polish trains keep getting better 🙂 Especially if you compare them to Vietnamese night trains… 🙂
2) NAP TIME!!
Sure – you can sleep in the car too and our child has been doing it ever since I remember! When he was younger he often fell asleep even before we left Warsaw. Now he can fall asleep on his way from home to the kindergarten (10 minutes). Hardly a surprise since I always drift away while in the car. But a car comes with a car seat and he has to sleep sitting while on a train, if it’s not crowded, he can comfortably sleep lying down, especially if we manage to get a compartment just for ourselves!
Pictured: Maks napping on the train from Zakopane to Cracow (did you know that this train takes 4 hours????) – he fell asleep like he does in the car – right after we left Zakopane!
3) LUNCH WITHOUT WASTING TIME
Eating on the road while driving a car is always problematic. I sometimes take sandwiches, always some snacks for Maks (chips, bananas, yoghurts, something sweet) but how long can you live on snacks?? If you’re travelling to Bieszczady or got stuck in traffic on the road to Zakopane for 6 hours, you’d like to have lunch. That’s not all – your child would like lunch as well! And there’s always this dilemma: should we stop in a random roadside place?? Where, so we don’t get food poisoning? Maybe McDonald’s?? Unhealthy but you know that you won’t poison yourself at least. There are arguments too. ME: let’s eat something, I’m hungry, Maks is hungry too. Łukasz: let’s drive, I don’t want to waste time for stops because we’re arrive late in the night!! I want to get there finally!
It’s often possible to eat something on a train. Obviously, such luxuries were not available at night in Georgia or Vietnam – there, you had to stock up prior to your trip, eat and go to sleep (the best idea) 🙂 But when we’re travelling by train in Poland we go to Wars (train restaurant) pretty much every time! And it’s getting better all the time! They even have kids’ menu (chicken breast, rice, salad, juice or water)! It’s not perfect though – we wanted to order it 4 times during our trips and we only got a toy (a little cart) once. And you know how it is when your child expects something??? 😉
4) RELAX / WORK / BOOK
What can I say, I love train travels because I can rest and catch up on things. During 2 hours alone on a train, I can do more than in any other circumstances. In times like these I always remember the situation on a bus from Bilbao to San Sebastian in Spanish Basque Country I took 10 years ago when I was on the student exchange there. I kept writing my thesis for the whole trip and when I got off, an old man approached me asking: ‘Has aprovechado el tiempo, no?’ (You sure made good use of that time, haven’t you?). On a train, making good use of time is much easier than on a car in which I tend to feel unwell after a while.
On a train, I work, respond to e-mails and if I run out of tasks / computer battery, I can always read a book or a magazine bought at the station. It has its own charm since I usually don’t have time to do it:) Same goes for Maks – he draws, reads and when he gets bored, he watches a cartoon or a film of some sort.
5) NO FAMILY FIGHTS 🙂
We all know that family travels aren’t always idyllic. Sometimes we have different ideas about certain things. We do at least and it happens much more often when we’re on the car. He drives too fast while she drives too slow. Give him this cartoon. Don’t do it – he can play with something else. Slow down. Drive faster. Look at the road. Maks, stop whining. Maks, we’re almost there. Give him this damn cartoon, I can’t drive in such conditions.
If you don’t get such situations you must be travelling rarely or mostly doing 2-3 hour trips;))) There are no fights on a train – everyone does what they want and we get some extra time to play with Maks. Nobody has to focus on the road, nobody gets sick on turns (that’s me!). I don’t know what can you fight over on a train. I know a thing or two about car fights though 🙂
6) A WALK
‘Mommy, I want to get out! I want to get rid of the seatbelts!’ Who heard it at least once?? Maks likes travelling by car, he likes his car seat but you know how it is – he gets sick of it if the trip is too long! He wants to walk around, run around and move in general. Walks are permitted on a train, and inspecting a train is some extra entertainment for boys! 🙂
7) YOU CAN DO VARIOUS THINGS!
Reading and using computer for work or watching movies is just one thing. On a train you can draw, play, move toy cars, do anything! And the best thing is colouring trains:) Or playing with trains from Stacyjkowo! 🙂
8) LESS LUGGAGE – OBLIGATORY!
You know how it is when you’re travelling by car… a suitcase, one bag, two bags, a little bike, a scooter, a backpack, 2 weeks’ worth of food supplies even though you’re leaving for just 3 days. We’ve got friends who are absolute masters in this matter! A car packed up to the ceiling and they are ready for just about anything. But the packing process takes ages, and carrying the stuff and fitting it in the car eons! Travelling by train teaches you optimisation which we had to learn when we started taking long trips to the unknown. You take only as much as you need so that you feel comfortable. Forget about ‘what if I’m going to need that?’ attitude! And you’re also teaching your child responsibility for their stuff – no one’s going to carry bags of toys – the kids chooses what to take and carries his backpack on his own.
9) YOU DON’T CARE ABOUT THE WEATHER
Rain, snow, fog, strong wind, sleet – you all know something about driving in such conditions! Traffic, poor visibility, danger! When you’re on a train, you sit down with a book and a coffee and enjoy not being out:) Or stuck in traffic for 3 hours, especially while travelling with a impatient child 🙂
10) BREAKFAST ON BOARD 🙂
I have this little weird habit. EVERY TIME I board a train on Central Station I have to buy my favourite coffee! It used to be Coffee Heaven, now it’s Costa Coffee. It’s the only coffee I drink which many consider not coffee-tasting at all. I know I’m addicted to it! 🙂 A train trip with coffee in my hand is always better. Maks likes it too and he learned to eat the foam out of my coffee! And if you need a stronger breakfast, there’s scrambled eggs, sandwiches or frankfurters. When I’m travelling by car I have to either eat breakfast before (time!) or prepare some sandwiches (time!). I won’t stop 20 minutes after leaving, right? On a train I start the breakfast when the train leaves the station!
I always liked trains, but for Łukasz it’s kind of a novelty! He was a radical car enthusiast and now we’re conspiring how to get to a certain place by train! There were spontaneous trips to Gdańsk, Poznań, Zakopane and Cracow.. I get the feeling that in 2016 we will take the train to Wrocław where we haven’t been for ages! 🙂 If you think that travelling with a child is only restricted to a car, try taking your child on a train once. Maybe you’ll like it? 🙂