My Daily Essentials: Overnight Train Edition

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

This post is coming to you after a 15 hour long train ride. No, that is not a joke. Yes, I am alive to tell the tale.

What started off as a simple overnight train to Nice with my former-exchange-student/sister Luisa turned into a giant test of patience.

First of all, if you're traveling in Europe and want to make the absolute most out of your time, I highly recommend overnight trains (just not ours) so you don't spend unnecessary time on travel days!

Tip: Splurge on the sleeper car

We didn't really know what we were getting into and bought regular tickets, which turned out to be for reclined seats. They were surprisingly comfortable and easy to fall asleep in - and I'm the kind of person who can't sleep more than a couple of hours on a plane, so it's saying something that I slept almost the whole night. The only reason we didn't sleep the entire time was because we found ourselves in the only, I repeat ONLY car that was -20 degrees all night long... Maybe I'm exaggerating, but still. We ended up shivering the whole night, tossing and turning to weird noises the train made and then woke up to announcement that we had a FOUR AND A HALF hour delay. Thankfully, the train gave out free breakfast boxes, and when we went to get ours, we discovered that the rest of the train was about 40 degrees warmer than our cabin, so we camped out in an empty bike station for the rest of the trip. Overall, I wouldn't change the experience because Luisa & I ended up having a lot of fun doing things our own way. And our end destination in the French Riviera was definitely worth the hassle!

If you're not scared off by my story, I've compiled some essentials for your next overnight train trip below:
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  • Jogger Pants & Cashmere Sweater: Because no one cares if you show up to the train station in pajamas, and I promise you will be 10X comfier than the inevitable woman who boards in heels (why is this a thing??) at the end of the trip
  • Fuzzy Socks: Having a pair of these will keep you warm & comfortable the whole ride
  • Neck Pillow: Because you want to avoid pesky neck cramps as much as possible 
  • Benefit Hydrating Face Mist: If you don't already have a bottle of this or something like it, go buy one now. You can thank me later.
  • Deodorant: To freshen up before hopping off the train at your destination
  • A Good Read: Even though you'll sleep a lot, it's always good to have a book on hand
  • Comfy Blanket: to keep warm and cozy
  • Deck of Cards: To pass the time, whether you're alone or with others - this is a good way to make new friends as well! 
  • Headphones: Because you'll want to block out the weird noises of the train
  • Trail Mix: Just in case you get late-night munchies, or need something when you wake up (the trains usually do have vending machines & a snack car though)
Have you ever taken an overnight train? What was your experience? If not, would you consider it?

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  1. I have yet to get on a train for actual travel from A to B, I've done scenic rides which is totally different. An overnight train ride sounds like a pretty efficient way to travel.

    1. I've really come to enjoy train travel! I'm also not a fan of long car rides, so that could be why. But you should definitely take a train if you ever get the chance! :)

  2. I absolutely love traveling by train! We've done it a few times from VA to FL. The sleeper car is amazing. :)

    1. Isn't it?? I was so surprised at how much & well I actually slept - even just being in a recliner seat! They've got something on planes, definitely!

  3. Those are all fabulous! That's the deodorant I use too... haha and Gone Girl was so good! Parlez-vous Francais?

  4. I've taken the train quite a few times with my two little ones and I've always wanted to get a sleeper car, though we always end up with just regular seats because they are so much cheaper. Our train would always leave at 5pm and we'd arrive at our destination at 2:30am, and I agree, the train is always FREEZING!!! Even in cold weather there is a constant stream of cold, air conditioned air blowing on you. I usually read for most of the trip :)

    1. Ahh yes, I know! They should really have better climate control on trains, it always ends up giving me a slightly stuffy nose & sore throat that I never have time for! Hahah

  5. Trains are big in Russia! In my childhood I'd take a train down south to see my grandparents - it was a 37h ride one way. It was hard and fun at the same time - we'd cross so much land, bridges, rivers, towns, stop at different stations, run out for ice creams and corn, meet lots of people in our carriage... I also used to take overnight trains to Saint-Petersburg, Kazan and other cities just to visit for the weekend. I like your essentials list!

    1. Oh wow, that is such a long ride! But it sounds so fun, visiting all those places along the way! You're definitely making me want to visit Russia as soon as possible..

  6. These look just like my plane essentials - I am all about traveling in comfort!!

  7. I took an overnight bus between Paris and London last year, and it was the most miserable two nights of sleep ever! So hot and stuffy, and also it's a bus...I can easily fall asleep on trains, but buses? Nope. I'll have to give that a go, though! And still willing to overnight bus it, because cheap... There's a NINE EURO overnight bus from Toulouse to Barcelona, for example. NINE. 9. NEUF. And Toulouse is on my line, so that's fairly cheap to get to, as well!

    P.S. I don't get the heels, either. I walked home in chunky heel boots from the Odéon area back to my friend's apartment on the Champ-du-Mars last weekend, and my feet were crying horribly. How do these French people do it all day?!

    Chloe | Wanderlust in the Midwest


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