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Transportation Questions - London/Bath/Cotswolds

Hello! Hubby and I will be traveling from the US to the UK with our two young boys (ages 2 and 6 months) this July. We fly into Gatwick, then had planned to take the train to Bath, spend 2 nights in Bath, then pick up a car in Bath and spend 3 nights in the Cotswolds (Stow-in-the-Wold), then drive back to Bath to drop off the car and take a train back to London for 4 nights there.

A few questions:

  1. If we buy our train tickets from Gatwick to Bath in advance, will we be able to change the departure time if our flight ends up being delayed or it takes longer than expected to get through the airport?

  2. How much time should we allot to get through customs at Gatwick on the day we arrive (a Saturday morning)? Is it likely safe to book a train for about 2 hours after our flight is scheduled to arrive?

  3. Which rental car company is closest to the train station in Bath? Are any rental car places within walking distance to the train station?

  4. Should we reconsider our plan to take a train to Bath and instead rent a car at Gatwick and then drop it back off when we arrive in London towards the end of our trip? Pros are (1) we won’t have to worry about missing the train to Bath if our flight is delayed, and (2) we won’t have to drive back to Bath from the Cotswolds to drop off the car. Cons are (1) we wanted to avoid driving in London since we aren’t very familiar with driving on the right and (2) our apartment in Bath doesn’t have parking so we’d have to find parking.

Posted by
4386 posts

I agree with your thoughts in question #4 that you don't want to drive from Gatwick to Bath. I know it will cost more, but you could just wait until you get through immigration(customs is not the issue) to buy your tickets. Given how tired you may be after that flight(and particularly with two young children), the ease of doing that may be worth the extra money. The train tickets may be less expensive after 9:30 AM.

Posted by
15346 posts

1) It depends on the ticket you buy. If it's an "advanced" ticket, then it is only good for that specific train. An all day ticket is good for any train that day.

2)No one can tell. Your flight can be late, immigration can be extra busy, weather one knows.

3) Can't help with this.

4) Driving from Gatwick to Bath is not something highly recommended especially after an overnight flight with two little kids. My suggestion is get all day train tickets so you can take any train that day.

How much luggage are you going to have?

Posted by
1061 posts

I have to say that I think you’re very brave to be doing this trip with 2 such young children. It sounds like very hard work to me. I think that after the long plane ride your kids are going to struggle to go straight into a 3 hour car journey or similar train trip. Will you have a double pushchair? That’s not easy to take on the train.

I would be tempted to pick up a hire car from Gatwick but just stay somewhere a very short drive from there for the first night. You can start to get over jet lag and give the kids a little bit of a run around and fresh air. It also gives you the option of bringing your own child car seats rather than hiring them. Then on Sunday morning drive to Bath and continue your trip by car. There is paid parking available in Bath and your accommodation will be able to advise you in the best options.

If you have a pushchair make sure you hire a large enough car for that and all your luggage. Cars here are generally smaller than in the US