From cute Swiss cogwheel locomotives to Japanese bullet trains, Canada's Rocky Mountaineer to Australia's legendary Ghan, rail can be a great option when you're holidaying with kids.
No driving stress, space to move around, always something to see out the window and the chance to draw and play games at the tables. The other fascination for children is how the seats convert into sleeper cars on overnight trains. For once, there won't be a problem getting them to bed ...
Travelling by train is one of the most enjoyable ways to explore the many exciting countries of Europe
offers a range of passes that make it easy, fun and flexible to organise an itinerary to meet your family's needs. The classic Eurail pass permits travel in all 18 participating countries for either a continuous period or a selected number of travel days and is perfect for discovering as much of Europe as possible.
For those wishing to visit three, four or five countries, the Eurail Selectpass is the perfect choice, enabling families to tailor-make their own pass, choosing from a selection of 22 countries and available for either five, six, eight or 10 travel days within a two-month period (15 days are also available for the five-country pass).
Travellers planning to visit one or two countries only can purchase one of the newly introduced National Passes, offering single-country travel, or a Regional Pass, available for a variety of two-country combinations.
Eurail special reductions make the trip more affordable too. Saver passes can be purchased for groups of two to five people travelling together, offering an average discount of 15 percent off the regular price. In addition, children between the ages of four and 11 travel for half price and those under four years of age travel for free (unless a reservation for a separate seat or bed is required).
There is no better way to explore the interior of Australia
than on two of the world's best trains The Ghan
and the Indian Pacific
. The Ghan travels 2979km from Adelaide
via Alice Springs
, with connections from Sydney
on the Indian Pacific. The trip takes two nights, and the kids will be mesmerised by the amazing scenery as it glides by the panoramic windows. The change in scenery as the train heads from the city into the ochre interior is dramatic. Then there's the excitement of exploring Alice Springs
, taking an off-train tour at Katherine or, from Darwin
, visiting Kakadu.
The Indian Pacific runs between Sydney and Perth, with the three-night trip covering 4352km from the Pacific to the Indian Ocean. There are so many highlights, but the trip across the Nullarbor Plain, at 478km, is the longest straight stretch of railway track in the world. Watch out and you might see wedgetail eagles sitting on some of the posts dotted along the track or camels in the distance.
There are three levels of accommodation on the trains: Gold Kangaroo class featuring sleeper cabins with ensuite shower and toilet; Red Kangaroo sleeper cabins; and Red Kangaroo Daynighter seats.
The original Rocky Mountaineer
journey, launched 15 years ago, consisted of a two-day, all-daylight journey from Canada's west coast to the Canadian Rockies. These days there are a number of other options to choose from. The Fraser Discovery route, named after the river it follows, is a two-day tour between Whistler and Jasper and is one of the most scenic journeys in the world, passing lakes, canyons, ranches and steep mountains. The three-hour journey aboard the Whistler Mountaineer
from North Vancouver
to Whistler serves up a vista of ocean shores, canyons and mountains.
Trips with the Rocky Mountaineer include accommodation packages, since rail journeys are all made in the daytime to take full advantage of the views. Travel Gold Leaf on the train and you'll get a spectacular dome car, with expansive windows that make you feel you're right in the middle of forest and mountains. However the Red Leaf option is more than adequate, with roomy reclining seats with plenty of legroom and large picture windows to enjoy the scenery. Both classes include complimentary beverages and snacks, dinner at your hotel, national park passes, sightseeing tours, baggage handling and transfers.
Eurail passes are available through Rail Plus: www.railplus.com.au
The Ghan and Indian Pacific: www.trainways.com.au
Rocky Mountaineer information: www.rockymountaineer.com
Reproduced with permission from Holidays with Kids magazine.