In England we travelled around by car, train, and tube. Here’s a rundown of travelling with the kids on the various modes of transport.
We rented cars (from Eurocar) from arrival at Heathrow to when we arrived back in London, over a week later. We opted to collect the cars at terminal 1, rather than take the (free) shuttle to their office. There was a charge for terminal collection. We actually landed in terminal 3 so it was quite a distance to walk between terminals. The reason that we took this option was because we had lots of luggage, so didn’t want to have to unload it all onto the shuttle bus and then again at the office. The queue at the terminal wasn’t too long but because the couple in front of us had problems with their rental, we ended up waiting for around an hour to get the keys. I took this chance to check out the nursing room facilities just opposite the counter.
Nursing Room – Heathrow Airport Terminal 1 Car Rental Area
The nursing room was clean and tidy. It was nice to see a bar on the edge of the table, to prevent a baby from rolling off the changing pad.
The cars were fine, with plenty of space for luggage. We brought our own car seats and they were easy to fit with the seatbelts. I was a little apprehensive about how the kids would take to the car seats as we don’t have a car in Singapore so they’re not used to them. Surprisingly, M was great and slept whenever in the car seat. Z hated the car seat and screamed the whole time. But by the end of the trip, we managed to get her to nap in there too. We also brought our own sat navs: a Garmin and a TomTom. The Garmin performed better, even though it was the older of the two. We had an issue with the TomTom where we took a wrong turn, and it started to take us on a crazy route to who knows where. Luckily, it tried to take us over a bridge which was closed for repairs and I looked up another route on Google Maps.
Nursing Room – M6 Service Station: Corby
I was surprised to enter the nursing room and find an empty corner (as in no chair)…that’s the last picture. Seems like someone took it as there was definitely a space for it. I didn’t need to feed Z so it didn’t make much difference to me. And I guess that most people would just feed the baby in their car whilst parked. The facilities were pretty much as you’d expect. A bit dated, could be cleaner, but okay in a pinch. There were actually two nursing rooms in this area and when I went upstairs, the other one did have a chair.
I also noticed a Krispy Kreme display here. It’s so easy to get these doughnuts in the UK, unlike in Singapore where you used to have to queue a lot (I say used to because I haven’t been in ages).
I took the train twice with Z when going to visit a friend of mine. This was after we had dropped the cars back at Heathrow. The tickets were easy to purchase. I used thetrainline.com to book them. And then I collected the tickets from the self service machine at the station. There are also options to print your own ticket or display on your mobile phone. I wasn’t sure if the trains were going to be crowded so decided to leave the stroller at home and just bring my carrier. As it turns out, the trains were less than 50% full so it would have been fine. The train ride was great. Not many stops so it was pretty fast. And quite comfortable too as Z had her own seat because the train wasn’t busy.
Whilst in London, we used the tube quite a bit. We still had Oyster cards from when we were living over there so it was easy to just top them up. Many stations are not wheelchair accessible meaning that there aren’t lifts for strollers. There are also sets of stairs in lots of stations. I would recommend that you check the tube map before deciding whether to bring a stroller or not (stations that are wheelchair accessible are clearly marked). I was pleasantly surprised that on all occasions bar one, I was offered a seat. This was in contrast to Singapore where I am often left standing whilst carrying one of the kids. People sleep (or pretend to sleep), play on their phone, look down to avoid eye contact etc etc whilst in the priority seat. Even when someone didn’t notice me in London, another passenger would come to my aid and ask the person to give up their seat. Love that!