Now that I’m a seasoned veteran of European train travel with the Deal Kids, I’ve learned there’s one simple fact that made the difference between a mellow boarding process and a complete malay, and is now the one question I will ask before booking ANY train journey in the future with kids:
Am I boarding and dis-embarking at the end stations for this train?
When you’re traveling solo, possibly with only a backpack, questions like this might not cross your mind. I have LOTS of experience with trains in Europe and Asia and it certainly didn’t cross mine!
However, picture yourself with exactly THREE minutes to board a train with two kids and four suitcases! That’s what happened to me in Salzburg, Austria when I quickly realized that having a train that was a “through” train was a BIG deal. The train arrived and a throng of more savvy folks jumped off, then another throng jumped on while Deal Kid frantically looked for our number car, which of course was 12 cars away from us! Then the conductor blew the whistle and the doors shut, leaving us screaming, “WAIT!” on the platform. Fortunately, he saw us and heaved us and our bags onto the moving train.
The exact same process repeated itself in reverse three hours later in Stuttgart, Germany, when again we had three minutes to de-board our “through” train, with me tossing the Deal Kids, then four bags, then launching myself off of the train with seconds to spare as I fought against the crush of people trying to board.
Compare that to the luxurious feeling of the 20 minutes we had to board the Enterprise Rail from Dublin to Belfast (both end stations), where we glided onto the train, stowed our bags, got drinks, and snuggled in for a nap before the train even departed.
Hope this story helps you learn from my experience: please share your train tales!