5 ways to keep a preschooler busy on a long train ride

When you move a long way from family and friends, travelling back to see them is part of the deal. This week my daughter and I headed back to London to see my Dad for his 70th birthday, watch The Cure in concert for hubby’s birthday and catch up with friends and family.

We wangled a first class ticket for £22 on the slow London train (3 hours slow to be precise). I hoped that it wouldn’t be too busy because National Rail say that, “children under five years of age who are travelling free may only occupy a seat which is not required by a fare-paying passenger” and call me a killjoy, but I didn’t fancy having her on my lap the whole way! 

It is a long time to be on a train with a small person and I packed accordingly, here are the 5 things I took to keep her busy:

1. Orchard Toys Alphabet Lotto

It was Minime’s birthday recently and my Dad and a friend bought her some educational games from Orchard Toys.  We love Orchard Toys, they have a range of games for all the different stages of development and can keep little ones occupied for hours.

We’ve been doing some phonics work lately and this game is a great addition to that. First we matched the pictures with the picture squares sounding out the words.

Then we matched the first letter to the object, sounding out the letter. This game is very versatile and can be played in many different ways.

In fact, you can make up the rules as you go along – I do love a bit of improv!

2. Food! 

It’s obvious I know, but preparing a packed lunch and bringing lots of snacks with you to share can take a chunk of time out of a long train ride. We had a lovely lunch together of sandwiches, fruit, biscuits with hummus, crisps and left over birthday cake (the Diet Coke was for Mummy!)

3. An activity book

Activity books are great for keeping kids entertained, I bought this one really cheaply from Aldi, it’s a bit like Where’s Wally but with Princesses and cupcakes.

We enjoyed searching for cupcakes and Queens and apparently these kind of books are good for the development of perceptual, cognitive, and emotional brain processes!

If finding Princesses isn’t your thing you can opt for colouring books or sticker books.

4. Spot the sheep or I spy

This one is totally free! We love animal spotting and a train ride is a great opportunity to sit back, stare out the window and take in the beautiful countryside. I spy is always a winner even if Minime doesn’t quite get it (she spied a lion, a strawberry and a monkey) BUT it’s great to play different variations of the game and if all else fails you can just spot the spot the sheep.

5. When you’ve done all of the above whip out the iPad / tablet! 

In case of emergency I downloaded The house of magic from Amazon Prime and a couple of episodes of Paw Patrol, I also have a variety of apps including a drawing one, some Toca Boca games and Animatch which she loves.

Despite the inevitable delays and changes once we hit London, the kid did alright, enjoying the train ride and being as good as gold!

I hope you find these tips useful 🙂


4 Comments Add yours

  1. Khusro says:

    Great tips, my son loved the Toca Boca games too 😉 You forgot the bit at the beginning – making sure you arrive early enough or the train is empty enough so that you get that prized ‘table’ that you need so that you can do all these things 🙂


    1. Stephanie Darkes @ Exploring Exeter says:

      Oh yes! We are the first stop on the train so getting a table is usually the easy bit 😀. But it’s definitely worth adding.


  2. Lisa says:

    Great tips. We’ve got packing for travelling down to a tee now. I sometimes wish someone would pack me a surprise goody bag!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Stephanie Darkes @ Exploring Exeter says:

      I hear ya!


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