Car vs Train vs Plane with toddlers
April 9, 2010 11:54 AM Subscribe
Least stressful way to transport a family from London to Toulouse? Car vs Train vs Plane!
posted by Joh to travel & transportation (24 answers total)
I live in the US, but will be travelling back to Europe this summer to visit family. His parents still live near London, my parents recently moved to a small town near Toulouse. We have already booked our LAX-LHR return flights, but now need to figure out how to get ourselves from London to Toulouse. At the time of our travel we will be two adults, a 3 year old, and a 15-month old. We will need a rental car in London and Toulouse, since all the parents live in places that are awkward for public transport. We plan to stay with his parents for a week after we arrive, then travel to Toulouse for a week, then back to the UK for a few days before flying home.
I have not previously travelled in France, so I'm unfamiliar with the ins and outs of car/train/plane travel there. I left the UK long ago, so I'm not up to date on the current state of train and cheap plane travel either.
Our options seem to be:
a) hire a car at Heathrow for the entire holiday, drive around the UK while staying with his parents, then drive to Dover/Folkstone and take a ferry or chunnel across and drive to Toulouse. Probably the cheapest and least complicated option, but I think it sounds horrific. Spouse prefers this idea, and wants to do it overnight, so the kids can sleep in the back of the car. I think I will be too tired to help with driving, we will be on the "wrong side of the road" in a UK rental car, it will be dark, we will be tired, its 10 hours drive, and anyway what if the kids don't fall asleep and scream all night? Even if its daytime it sounds awful to me.
b) Return the rental car at Heathrow, take the Heathrow Express into the centre of London, get to the Eurostar terminal on public transport, take the train to Paris, then a TGV to Toulouse, hire another car. The public transport bit in London sounds a bit stressful with 2 kids and all the luggage and car seats (maybe a taxi instead?). The TGV Paris to Toulouse is not high speed and takes 6 hours. Not very fast, but probably more pleasant than being in a car for 6 hours.
c) Drop rental car at Stansted, take an EasyJet flight direct to Toulouse, rent another car there. Theoretically much quicker than the other options, but the airport security procedures may add an equal amount of time? Never flown EasyJet before, is it going to be hellish with two toddlers?
d) Some other option I haven't thought of, possibly including a stop-over in Paris to break up the journey, but my assumption has been that a stopover in a hotel in a major city with 2 toddlers won't really be very restful, and it would be better to just get to our final destination as fast as possible.
Bonus extra question, I was planning to bring our US car seats with us for the kids, as we will use them on the LAX-LHR flight anyway, and we can install them in the rental cars. US cars are generally bigger than European ones, is it going to be a struggle to fit them (Britax Diplomat and Britax Boulevard) in a rental car? The baby is still rear-facing in his Diplomat, but I gather this is weird and unheard of in Europe.