On the previous post, I spoke about what you should have in mind when you are about to buy train tickets. You already have them and have arrived at the station: How will you face the wait as pleasantly as possible? Here goes some advice on the things that work for us:
Tips for when you arrive at the station
- The ideal time of arrival is around 40 minutes: it gives you time to solve any mishap but it doesn’t force you to spend too much time at a station with a child (or more!!). It’s better to get there too early than in a hurry, stress takes away many years of your life! This, of course, depends on the city. It’s not the same to take a train from Atocha station (Madrid) than from a small-lost mountain village.
- If you have hired the free Atendo service, you have to look for them and let them know you are already there. They are easily spotted, usually close to the entrance and wearing an orange waistcoat. Let me remind you that this is a free service for people with reduced mobility and they’ll help you with your bags and/or the stroller to settle in, and they’ll also be waiting for you at the next station to walk you to your next way of transport.
- Club Lounge: I’m astonished when I realize how people whom I know who travel very often, aren’t aware of the existence of these sitting rooms. You are allowed inside with a business class ticket or with the gold or silver Renfe cards. There are wide areas with couches, spots to charge your phone’s battery, sweet and salty snacks, beverages, microwave, feeding bottle-heater, newspapers, wider bathrooms… You don’t have them in every station but it’s way more comfortable than waiting by the platform.
- Less is more: reduce your parcels to the smallest amount possible. If you believe that carrying a thousand separate small bags will make your life easier (one for food, one for diapers, another one for toys…) you will be falling in the same mistake I fell on my fist trip of the sort.My way of getting organized with two small kids is as follows: Stroller in one hand, suitcase on the other one, one child at the front in the carrier or foulard, and backpack or cloth rucksack with the essential behind.
- Related with the previous point: I suggest that you download the Renfe Ticket on your phones to keep them there and not worrying about printing them. Once you’ve bought the tickets you can ask Renfe to send it in passbook format.
- Food on train cafes is usually very limited and expensive. Bring something from home or buy it on your way to the station (a calamari sandwich from El Brillante if you’re in Madrid!)
- Ask at which height will your carriage stop at the platform so you avoid having to run with the children and luggage. They usually inform you but it depends on the station.
I’d like to share with you other small tips soon to use during the trip, what to do in the train with the kids to arrive in a whole piece, for example. I hope these very simple bits of advice will be helpful, you probably knew about most of them!