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Can a Child Travel Alone on a Train?

Trains are a popular form of travel for anyone and have been used to connect cities, countries, and everything in-between for over a hundred years. In some areas, trains are the main form of transportation for children between their home and their school. Plus, with the rise of interrailing amongst travellers, the train is becoming a more popular mode of transport. This raises the question of whether a child can travel alone on a train.

How old does a child need to be to legally travel alone on a train?

There is a consensus that 13 years old is a good age for a child to start travelling via train on their own. This is in line with many policies provided by train companies, which states they will not allow for children under the age of 12 to travel alone unless accompanied by an adult. This adult must be 16 years of age or older. Train operators cannot take responsibility for children travelling alone. If an unaccompanied child under the age of 12 is found, the British Transport Police will be notified immediately.

How old do you have to be to travel on the Eurostar alone?

The Eurostar is the main connection between the UK and several top European cities. As the Eurostar transports passengers over international lines, you will want to obtain children's travel insurance or family insurance before you leave. This can help reduce any stress a parent may have with their child travelling alone.

Children can travel on the Eurostar at any age. Those under four can travel for free when accompanied by an adult, whereas those between 4 and 12 can travel with a child ticket. Children over 12 can benefit from a youth ticket. However, it is important to note children under the age of 12 cannot travel without an adult who is 16 years of age or older. If you are 16 or older, you can travel alone as long as you have all the necessary travel documents. There are also some travel routes that a 12 to 16 year old cannot travel alone too, so check your route in advance.

All passengers must have the necessary travel documents (a passport) to travel internationally. Double check that you have your passport and insurance before boarding.

Safety tips for children travelling on a train

Here are a few short tips that can help your child stay safe when travelling:

  • Researching your destination before departing.
  • Keeping your valuables with you while in transit.
  • Writing down the details of the journey, departure and arrival time, and the platform(s) if known.
  • Make sure they know you is collecting them from the train station at the other end
  • Do not trust people too quickly.
  • Have photocopies of any important documents and keep them stored separately.
  • Get travel insurance.
  • Spend any extra money on security (e.g., on hiring out a locker for belongings).

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If you'd like some more tips and advice on travelling with the kids or inspiration for the next family holiday, check out our other pages below:

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