By Cathy Lanigan, Lonely Planet
Bus and train journeys can be a good way to get around with young babies and older children and teenagers. But making long trips by bus or train can be difficult with children when they've passed the tiny-baby stage and not yet arrived at the able-to-amuse-themselves stage. Buses sometimes lurch along in such a way that you really have to hang on to your children.
If you do have to make a long trip, and there is no way you can break it up into smaller sections, all you can do is treat it like a plane trip. Make sure you have all you need available: drinks, snacks, books, whatever will work.
Buses are often the most crowded and uncomfortable form of transport. You may have to hold your children for the entire journey. So if they are older than 2, even if they would travel for free, it's probably worthwhile to pay for extra seats rather than economizing by keeping them on your knee. Take all the food and drink you could possibly need. If your are traveling overnight, make sure you take a blanket or warm clothes.
For comfort, when there is a choice of bus or train, trains are probably a better bet. If the trip is a really long one, an overnight sleeper, if available, is always the best way to do it. Children usually love sleeping on trains.
After a long trip, try to make sure that the next few days are spent somewhere nice and relaxing. Choose a comfortable place to stay where the children can run around and enjoy themselves. Unpack the bags, frequent the same restaurants, give the children and yourself as much time as you can manage to totally get the trip out of your system. While it may seem that the children have forgotten all about the trip an hour after getting off the bus, the next time you reach the bus station you may find them yelling that they don't want to go. Never plan too many long journeys. When they are unavoidable, space them as much as possible.
Older children will, of course, be bored on long bus trips, but they will usually manage better for longer. Local people may talk to them, you can play all the usual travel games and chat about what you are seeing to pass time. Have a treat for each hour after a certain period, even if it is only sweets or fruit, and take advantage of any stops. Always remember to make your children visit the bathroom at every opportunity although kids are kids anywhere in the world and bus drivers always know what it means when come striding up the aisle, child in hand.
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