Going on holiday by train with children

A hassle? No, just a lot of fun!

Of course, you can't take the bungalow tent with you and you have to do without your own caravan. But there's no greater pleasure for children than travelling by train! And there are good alternatives to travelling with a tent or your own caravan as told by Walter, Thijs, Jaap and Edwin. Here is their report and some more good tips.

Walter: Two years ago we went to France by train: Lyon-Ardèche-Paris

"We were on holiday with teenagers. They loved it. We didn't take too much luggage, because what do you need when its 30 degrees Celsius? We took books with us and downloaded series for the journey. For our time in the Ardèche, we hired a car in Lyon; there are a few agencies next to the station. By the way, Lyon is really worth a visit.

In the Ardèche, we had a nice little house. I was really surprised by the speed with which we arrived in Lyon: we left Nijmegen around 9 o'clock in the morning and were in Lyon by the end of the afternoon! You can change trains in Paris or Brussels. In Paris you take the metro, in Brussels you stay at the same station catch the TGV to Lyon, which is somewhat easier.

Taking your own car can sometimes be cheaper. But on the other hand: what were we going to do in Paris or Lyon with our car? And a few days of parking in the city will cost you a fortune."

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Joris (17 at the time): To Marseille and to a village near Albi

"It was the summer of the World Cup. Albert Heijn gave out those wuppies. I can't remember the exact name, but we stuck them on the front of the TGV and on the windows. And then we hoped that they would stay on.

In Marseille, we stayed a week in an appartment and walked a lot. Very cool city, with lots to see and do. Too bad the Netherlands lost against Argentina. With the TGV, we went to Montpellier and there we rented a car at the station. We stayed in a house nearby and made a canoe trip on the river Tarn.

It was fun that we had a different route on the way back, Montpellier - Paris - Amsterdam. We don't have a car, so the combination of the train and hiring a car locally was very convenient."

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Jaap (15 at the time): To Spain in stages

"My mother, brothers and I wanted to do everything: see Madrid, go to Paris again and spend a week in a cottage in the countryside.

We started with four days in Paris. We went to Versailles, among other places, and on the way back we saw the Tour de France arrive! On day 5, we took the morning train to Madrid with a layover in Girona.

We rented a flat in the centre and explored the city on foot and by metro, which was great fun and easy to do. After almost a week in Madrid, we took the train to Salamanca and hired a car there."

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Edwin: With twins in Paris

"We went to Paris, the boys were 4 years old at the time. The train journey was fun: nice to look outside and many visits to the toilet.

In Paris, the boys had a card around their necks with their names and the name of the hotel. It was the first time we had been abroad with the whole family, so we mainly went sightseeing. We went to the Eiffel Tower, looked at the Arc de Triomphe, Sacre Coeur and the Palace of Justice.

"The boys especially enjoyed travelling by metro!"

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So going on holiday by train is not only "doable" but also fun!

I asked Jaap why he prefers to go on holiday by train rather than by plane:

‘The nice thing about travelling by train is the views along the way and that you're relaxed and comfortable. You have more freedom of movement than in a car! You also don't have to deal with the constant humming that you get in an aeroplane. You're really en route and not 'suddenly' in another place. Sure, you're on the road longer, but the journey is part of the holiday.

It starts when you shut the door behind you and get on the bus on your way to the station."

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Read the tips for travelling by train with children

Booking tickets

  • Book as early as possible for the lowest prices.
  • Children 14 years old and younger travel for free to and through Germany when travelling with adults.
  • On your way to Austria? Then take the night train and book a compartment for the entire family.


  • Break up your trip if the routes are too long. To Spain? Spend a few days in Paris or Perpignan!
  • Plan enough time for changing trains. Tickets for domestic trains as well as Intercity Brussels are valid all day. Take an earlier train to have plenty of time to catch your reserved international train.
  • Did you choose a less populated destination and want to explore an area? Then hire a car too. They can often be picked up near the station.
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The journey

  • Download music or films beforehand as there is not always Wi-Fi.
  • Make sure the children have enough to do on board the train. Of course, there's a lot to see outside, but bring games as well. Gaming on the phone? Don't forget the earpieces or headphones so that other passengers aren't disturbed.
  • Check whether there are power sockets on the train. Otherwise, make sure your phones and tablets are charged and take a power bank with you.


  • Book an appartment with kitchen in the city if you don't want to eat out every night. Shopping in foreign supermarkets or at markets is inexpensive and can be a lot of fun.
  • Rural or country destination? You can rent a cottage, but also a tent or mobile home on a campsite. The range of accommodation is growing and comes in all shapes and sizes. Look at the site of rent a tent or the ANWB.

South of France with kids

On holiday to the South of France with the kids. Very enjoyable and super-fast with Thalys.