Ask my kids what their favourite holiday memories are and they'll tell you about the time they went to bed on a "sleeping train" in France. They can't remember much else about the holiday (to be fair, they were only tots at the time) but it just goes to prove the old-fashioned notion that getting there is a big part of the whole adventure.
Which is rather appropriate, considering the recent problems in the skies. It's making us all think again about how we get around, and if, like me, you're tempted to let the train take the strain, the kids will love you for it.
Sleeper trains may not always appear to be the cheapest or most comfortable way to travel – low cost airlines put paid to that – but bear in mind that you're not paying hotel bills, transfers, airport taxes or baggage fees, and it can work out very cost-effective. Especially because there are some good deals around for families at the moment, if you know where to look.
Take the Spanish Trenhotel to destinations including Madrid or Barcelona, for example, and you'll be entitled to a Family Deal, which means a discount of 35 per cent if you book a four-bed tourist class "roomette" (spanish-rail.co.uk). Prices in July and August start at £83.50 per person each way.
For Italian destinations, it's worth checking out the Artesia Stendhal (artesia.eu) overnight sleeper to Venice.
It offers half-price fares for children in couchettes and private sleepers. "Special return" fares from Paris to Venice, which must be booked 45 days in advance start from £86 return per person in a four-berth sleeper.
Sadly, the French Motor Rail sleeper train that my children so fondly remember is no longer running: the TGV is now doing a Paris to Avignon service in less than three hours. But, for those of you who prefer life in the slow lane, it's good to know that the fun of getting there hasn't completely gone out of fashion.