Any tips for day trips
Very easy by direct train from Brussels. You can walk from the train station in Brugge to the center of town or take a local bus if you can't walk very far.
Schedule and prices at the NMBS/SNCB site.
Try to go early and/or stay late. In the middle of the day, Bruges gets clogged with day trippers, but before and after, you can capture some of the magic that made Bruge so popular with the day trippers in the first place!
Beware the cars in second class can get very busy and you might find yourself standing a good portion of the way.
The trains to Brugge stop at all three "downtown" Brussels station, several times per business day hour. This is a very simple trip, although buying the tickets can involve a line if you wait for a human clerk. Others have posted that American Chip and PIN card now work in the NMBS vending machines in Belgian stations. One way to avoid crowds is to skip rush hours, but of course you want as many hours in Bruges as possible. The NMBS website can tell you the travel time without having to buy a ticket. General train tips on our host's advice site, blue menu top left, Travel Tips and Explore Europe.
I am sure that there are times, like at rush hour, when people have to stand on trains leaving Brussels for the coast (and Brugge/Bruges). I've never experienced a need to stand, ever, on Belgian trains, because I don't travel for fun when others are traveling to go to work.
I have the same experience as Nigel: I never had to stand in a Belgian train. And your direction is contrary to that of all the commuters: you'll be going out of the city, while they are going in (and vice versa at the end of your day trip).
Avoid unnecessary spending, and just buy 2nd class tickets. To avoid a possible queue at the ticket window when you want to catch your train: you can buy your tickets the day before.
Well, I haven't been in a few years, but I once had to stand on a bi-level (upper and lower) train between Brussels and Antwerp. I agree that it doesn't happen (to tourists) that often, and should only be of concern to those with disabilities. A slightly worse problem might be fitting huge luggage onto local trains with a narrow rack above the seats, if you can get them through the aisle. Or you stand in the vestibule with your bags, where a bicycle would be.
The Bruges train station is about 1 mile from the main square/belfry. Follow the crowd when getting off the train and you’ll get there.
Perhaps my experience was due to a train strike having been on for 3 days and ended the day I went to Bruges. I went on a Sunday and we were packed like cattle.