If you have been following along over the past year, you can see that we have done a lot of traveling. I was asked to participate in a Traveling Parents’ Forum to share any tips I have. On the third Monday of each month, we will discuss a topic related to traveling with children. You can check out the forum to see everyone’s tips, but I have decided to post my advice on In Love In London as well.
When William was about 4 months old, we took a coach trip to visit relatives in Cornwall. What should have been a 4 hour trip turned in to 7 hours with all the weekend traffic! Luckily William was still in the stage where he slept a lot and we managed all right. (Aside from an undercover dirty diaper change on the empty seat next to us!) I could see that sort of trip being quite disastrous with a youngster that is more active. Since then, we have stuck to trains and planes for our travel!
We have traveled by train throughout the UK and France this year, and took the Chunnel from London to Paris as well. On the eurostar to Paris, we had to book our seats in advance. We reserved an area where the seats face each other and you have a little table in between which gave us a bit more room.
We still needed to fold down our stroller in the luggage area and then hold William on our laps for the trip. On other train journeys, we watch as the train pulls into the station and try to find a coach that either has a handicap section, or a large area with bench like seats along the wall so that we can easily park the stroller right up beside us. We make sure to come prepared with some small baby toys, extra food and double check the diaper bag is fully stocked.
I have found traveling locally within London to be very easy. When we were shopping around to buy a stroller, a few people cautioned me against the large Uppa Baby Vista that I wanted to buy. When they learned that we did not have a car and I would be using public transportation, they thought it would be too big. It is true that the frame is too wide to fit down some bus aisles, but it is very simple to just get on through the back door, park in the wheelchair/stroller section and then go tap my oyster card. The buses in London seem to have a rule that if there are already two strollers on the bus, you need to wait for the next one. That has happened to me a few times. Wheelchairs also take priority in this space. I don’t often take the tube in rush hour, but I have never had to fold the stroller down and hold William due to lack of space. I have found the Mumderground app to be invaluable. It lists all of the tube stations and if they have step free access. It can also tell you how many steps there may be at a particular station depending which entrance you take and which tube line you are going to. I use that as well as the Transportation for London (TFL) website to plan my routes. You can use the TFL website to plan a journey with your accessibility criteria. I select “I can take escalators, but not steps” when planning a route that I will be taking by myself with the stroller. Though these websites are specific to London, most other major cities will likely have similar resources. It’s always great when you can get to where you want via a simple, step free way, but whenever I have had to take steps, somebody always offers to help me with the stroller.
I found public transportation slightly more difficult in Paris. Our stroller did not fit through the turnstiles in the underground stations and we had to use the intercom phone to call somebody to buzz us through a gate each time.
A lot of people choose to simply use their baby carrier, thus eliminating any issues with public transportation. William is a big boy and I have become far too accustomed to the large basket under my stroller and the clips that hold my baby bag! He also naps much better in his stroller now. So although we may use our carrier during certain times of the day, we usually have our stroller handy as well, and never have any issues with that.
When we first moved to London, using public transportation was a huge annoyance for me. However, now I love being able to walk everywhere with the stroller and I find taking the bus and underground to be a breeze. The line I usually take is not busy after morning rush hour, so I find it relaxing to get on a quiet train and just zone out with a cup of coffee for a few minutes before we begin our adventures for the day.