Thinking on traveling on Public Transport with babies and toddlers? Read on!
I drive but do not own a car so since Miss M was a newborn, I’ve traveled with her by public transport when my husband hasn’t been with us – he’s the designated driver :)
Traveling by Bus
The first time I even walked out of the house with her on my own I felt a bit terrified so boarding a bus definitely scared me. Would I be able to get her on and off the bus in time? Where would we stand/sit? Would she scream for the whole journey? Would we be able to get OFF the bus in time or end up missing the stop? And so on. I can happily say that the fear quickly subsided and I’m so pleased that I wasn’t scared to venture on to public transport with my baby alone – it allowed us to get out of the house, visit friends, not have to rely on my husband and have many adventures together! The pros most definitely outweighed the cons.
My first few trips were taking the bus either to the hospital for check ups or to see friends and to this day I still get the bus and train to get around. I couldn’t understand why friends wouldn’t leave their house if they didn’t have the car that day when they knew I would be traveling by bus week in week out to see them – or, shock and horror, walking! Although I did understand that they were too scared to attempt the bus or train, I felt really sad for them that they were left housebound with their baby if they didn’t have a car. Yes, it’s daunting at first but your confidence really does grow over time.
My first fear about getting the bus with Miss M was physically getting on the bus. This probably sounds silly but I analysed and over-analysed in my head how I was physically going to get her up and on to the bus in the pram without tipping her in to the road or taking forever and annoying the driver and other passengers. As it happened, when the bus pulled up the driver pulled it right to the curb-side for me and pressed a ‘magic’ button that tilted the bus a bit to the side so allow me to push the pram straight on – no problem! Despite me being prepared with my ticket, I of course dropped it in panic inside the bus but he waited patiently for me to retrieve it, pay for the journey and find a seat in the front section with the space for prams and wheelchairs. I also had offers from a couple of passengers to help me get on the bus and get settled – in my prior planning, I hadn’t bargained for the generous nature of other people! Or magic buttons.
The journey was about 20 minutes and Miss M cried for the whole way and back and did so for almost every other bus journey for the first 2 months of her life. Once I got over the paranoia of other passengers staring at me (I’m talking about you, old ladies!) I just did my best to amuse her for the short journey or to time it with her nap where possible.
Traveling by Train
The first time I got the train alone with Miss M was when she was a year old and I had exactly the same fears again. Luckily, all the trains I’ve gotten in the UK have been upgraded for very easy access so again, you can just push the pram on and off easily. The journeys I have been on have all be short – less than 20 minutes and we tend to stand just by the door so I haven’t had to try getting her out of the stroller, folding it up, trying to keep her from running up and down the carriage etc.
Again, I have so far had no issues – despite Miss M wondering what on earth was happening. Luckily, she’s an avid people watcher and as long as there’s at least one other passenger sticking their tongue out at her occasionally, she’s a happy traveler.
We’ve taken many taxi journeys in Australia and England when Miss M was a baby and it hasn’t been smooth sailing (driving) but we’ve picked up a few tips to help us make it as easy as possible. The main thing is booking the taxi in advance and ensuring that the driver who turns up will have the correct car seat. That said, we still had taxis turn up with a forward facing toddler seat instead of a rear facing capsule when Miss M was less than 6 months old. I would definitely suggest booking the taxi in advance and for a time WELL in advance of when you really needed to leave. It takes the taxi company much longer to locate a cab that has a car seat and you need to factor in time for the wrong one to turn up and your need to re-book it!
Another thing to be aware of is that although they have been completely safe, some of the car seats have not been cleaned well – certainly not to our standards. For short journeys, this is manageable and we gave the seat a quick clean up before we put her in.
When I was pregnant a friend told me I was selfish for not getting a car because I wouldn’t be able to get around and take the baby anywhere. I never forgot this comment – I couldn’t understand what she meant given I’d seen so many parents taking their babies on buses and trains. I can however now understand the anxiety that goes with leaving the house with a newborn on your own and braving public transport but I’m so pleased to have overcome the fears so that now traveling on my own with Miss M is a frequent part of our lives.
Parents do not always need cars to get around, they only need confidence. And a good public transport system.
Find out more tips for traveling with babies and toddlers here.