Ever wondered if you could survive an overnight train trip? We did both – wondered and survived. In fact, not only did we survive but along the way we also picked up a few basic ideas that have served us in good stead each time we get the urge to travel and don’t get the urge to fly. It is possible to survive being on a train for 24 hours and with a little bit of planning you might actually find that you can enjoy it.
It is an understatement of the highest order to say that to survive an overnight train trip you need to plan. That point can’t be overdone. The first planning involves determining whether you want to pamper yourself and sign up for a sleeper or whether you are made of sterner stuff and plan to go by coach. The savings you will make by taking coach are considerable, for example as much as $300 on some Boston to Chicago trips. You just need to pack enough aids to get you through the night.
If you do choose the coach you need to prepare for more noise and more intermittent light than you will have to endure in a sleeper. One solution is to invest a few bucks on a sleeping mask, lone ranger style without the eye holes. Ear plugs aren’t a bad bargain either. Overnight trains still blow whistles and passengers come and go through the wee hours and the early hours. People will be moving around in the train heading for the bathroom or stretching,. And unless you plan to make use of a miracle you have been holding on to, there will be kids, possibly infants who will add their sounds to the ongoing drone of the snoring population. Blocking out as much noise and light as you can will give you a shot at catching a few hours.We try to stay awake until close to our normal bed time or even later to make sure we give ourselves the best chance to knock off for the night.
You can further enhance your chance for an okay night’s sleep if you pack a light blanket or throw, a small travel or scatter pillow and have come prepared for sleep in loose fitting clothing. We are partial to expandable waist sweat pants, tees and a seasonable appropriate jacket or sweatshirt. If sleep in general is an issue for you then make sure you have also packed up whatever normal sleep aids you use at home.
While sleep can be your primary concern when trying to survive an overnight train ride, try not to stress about it. The one thing you can pretty much count on is that you can continue your dozing throughout the following day for as long as you remain on board.
To help ride out those wide awake hours that can seem to drag on forever, bring what you know will entertain you, not some other imaginary person that you have seen on television. Don’t bring cards, a book, or a mini movie player if you hate playing cards, never read or find movies a bore. Bring things that you really enjoy or if you just like the scenery then don’t bother packing other things that are going to weigh you down.
One thing that most people agree can help you survive an overnight train trip is packing up some non-perishable food items that will energize you and put a smile back on your face as well as breaking up the seemingly endless hours. Grapes are our favorite because they are succulent but they also are almost odorless. The smell of bananas and oranges can really sicken some people so good etiquette indicates other fruits. Juice boxes, crackers, cookies, hard candy and gum are also good for the long haul and take up limited space in pockets of jackets or backpacks.
Finally to prepare to survive an overnight train trip don’t forget the essentials. If your life is based on your glasses and your pills then make sure you have them and have back up if possible. But also tuck away where you can easily reach them personal items that will add to your comfort level like tissues, wipes, toothbrush and paste, brush, bandages, and other personal items.
In addition to things you pack, we have learned after our experience with overnight train trips to Orlando. Birmingham and Chicago that the best way to survive an overnight train trip is to pack up patience, friendless and courtesy and keep them handy.