Tuesday, November 6, 2012

How to Survive a 20 Hour Train Ride

You all know what I'm talking about - those long, mercilessly boring journeys we all could do without. Today my friend Jackie from Jackie Travels is here to offer her insight on how to survive in that situation - she is witty and extremely informative, so I guarantee you'll want to read. What's great is that these principles can easily be transferred to long plane, car or bus rides as well. Thanks Jackie, for helping me hold down the fort while I'm up here in Denmark!

(I'm so grateful to Daryl for having me on here today! She and I only met recently, but she's already become one of my favorite bloggers to read everyday and I have developed a pretty massive crush on her. As all of you have too, I'm sure.)

 I pride myself on being that person who can always find a really good deal. That’s one reason I’ve been able to travel around so much – I do it as cheaply as I possibly can. I would say that about 95% of the time, I can deal with the “cheap” pretty well – the uncomfortable bed in the 20 person hostel dorm room; the lunches that consist solely of bread and a piece of cheese; the three bus connections to the airport when a taxi would have only taken 15 minutes. But then every once in a while my tendency for the cheap lands me in a seat that doesn't recline on a train ride that lasts for over 20 hours. 
Actually, the longest trip I've ever taken in a train seat lasted for about 48 hours, but we don’t talk about that. Now that I've taken six of these epic and extremely masochistic journeys , I've developed a few tips (or, more aptly, survival tactics) to help you pass the time.


  1. Bring props. None of the trains I've ridden have had WiFi  and I assume most of you reading this are bloggers like I am, and so anywhere that doesn’t have wifi is the enemy. However, the nice thing about not having any social media platforms around to distract you is that you can write five blog posts in two hours and then read 100 pages of your book in the two hours after that (just make sure the book isn't Crime and Punishment. Not the lightest train reading). I am so ridiculously productive on train rides.

 2. Bring socks. One of the trains I took recently was so freezing throughout the night that I was literally taking any item of clothing I could find and wrapping it around my body for warmth. I had a dress around my neck and face, two pairs of socks on my feet, I was considering putting a pair of socks on my hands, and my denim jacket was my pillow. I looked ridiculous. Some guy took a picture of me with his phone (well-played on his part though). Since then I make sure to be prepared for the coldest imaginable temperatures so that I can at least attempt to weather them like a normal person.

 3. Bring hand sanitizer. I think people steal the soap from the bathrooms. I’m not sure why – we can add this to the list of things I will never understand about humanity – because it smells so clinical and it’s not like it would make a good souvenir. But, without fail, the soap is always mysteriously missing.


 4. Remember that things are funny. It’s funny when people keep trying to talk to you when you’ve just gotten to the really good storyline in Cloud Atlas and also have headphones in. It’s funny when the really old guy sitting next to you keeps marveling at the reflection of the stars in the ceiling windows of the viewing car and you don’t have the heart to tell him that it’s the reflection of your computer screen. It’s funny when you convince yourself that you paralyzed part of your back when you were sleeping – well, “sleeping” – and actually research symptoms of paralysis on your phone for 30 minutes after that. It’s funny when the couple in the row behind you is going through one of the worst breakups you’ve ever heard at the two in the morning, to the point that you think it might turn violent and you hope no one is hoarding kitchen knives from dinner in their pockets. If you don’t believe these things are funny, the ride will seem much longer than 20 hours.

 5. Look out the window. There are a lot of reasons that people choose the train for traveling, and one of them is for the fun of actually seeing where you’re going. It’s difficult not to be conscious and appreciative of the journey when you’re able to follow along out the window the entire time. And then, once it gets dark outside, it always helps to have a movie downloaded on your computer in advance. I recommend Casablanca.

 To read more about my masochism and train adventures, you can check out my blog at Jackie Travels and find me on facebook, on twitter, on bloglovin, and tumblr. I'd love to meet some new fellow travelers, or even anyone who just daydreams about getting away!

5 comments:

ifs ands Butts said...

I love the funny tip. One of my favorite things on overnight trains is wine and iPad. We would play monopoly, taboom (knock of taboo), you name it on the train and it was always fun. Just make sure you're not in a silent car.

Jackie D said...

Yay thanks for having me! I'm sorry it took 394384 emails to make this possible :)

Kimberly Bonham said...

Love your blog! New follower!
Follow me back?

Rita Carvalho said...

These photos were taken in portuguese trains! And not the bad ones we have here...

Sara Louise said...

Warm socks, a good book, and hand sanitizer! Never travel without them :)

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