An Adventurers Guide to Sleeper Trains

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While jet-setting your way around the world sounds pretty glamorous, in reality it is exhausting, and let’s be honest – boring! Riding sleeper trains however is a much more relaxing way to get from A to B, and a far more adventurous experience. Here are our top tips and essential info for adventurers taking the scenic route.

Know Your Sleeping Options!

First and foremost, you need to know what you are booking. The choices are usually:

  • Recliner seat
  • Couchette
  • Sleeper compartments

Recliner seats are just that, a comfy spacious seat that reclines, but doesn’t go fully flat. Great for those on a super-tight budget, not great if you would like a proper night’s sleep! Couchettes are basically a bed in a bunkroom for 4 or 6 people. These spaces aren’t big on privacy – or space – so you’ll be kipping with your day-clothes on. Couchettes usually come with a blanket and pillow instead of proper bedding.  Top tip – Pack a small bag for your essentials as there’s no room to swing a suitcase to get stuff out. Finally – we have sleeper compartments – a veritable palace of comfort complete with bedding, washbasin and the rare luxury of privacy if you get a private compartment.

Food and Drink

  • Some night train tickets include breakfast.
  • Always take your own mug and tea bags/hot chocolate sachets etc. as hot water is freely available from the dining car.
  • If you are on a tight budget, pack lots of snacks, and even pot noodles to avoid having to pay to eat in the dining car. However, if you aren’t on a budget – make the most of the experience!

What to Pack for Travelling on a Night Train

  • Eye mask and ear plugs for a better night’s sleep.
  • Toilet roll and hand sanitizer just in case.
  • A silk sleeping bag liner or sheet for peace of mind even if the bedding looks clean.
  • Flip flops – because you never want to use the shared bathroom in bare feet.
  • Backup charger for your phone. Night trains are notoriously thin on power points, so you may not be able to charge your phone.
  • Pack of cards or travel game to pass the time with your fellow passengers if you are in a shared compartment.

Night trains are really popular, not only because the price of a bed beats paying for a hotel, but because travellers can maximise their destination time. Sleeping while you travel gives you extra days to enjoy the places you really want to see!

Safety

  • Always lock the door to your compartment.
  • Always keep your valuables hidden.
  • Always take your passport and money with you when you leave the compartment.
  • If your fellow compartment passengers make you feel threatened or unsafe tell your attendant and ask if you can be moved.

Night Train Attendants

  • Bribes and tips are part of the service! Tip at the beginning and you are likely to get preferential treatment. If you want to move or upgrade and your attendant isn’t being helpful, a 20 Euro “tip” can help enormously.
  • If your route crosses borders, the attendant will offer to keep hold of your passport so you don’t get woken by border control in the night. You don’t have to do this, but it is a free service well worth the good night’s sleep you’ll get for using it.
  • The attendant will wake you with plenty of time to get ready before you reach your destination. Don’t bother with an alarm just in case your train is running late and you have a chance to get some extra sleep!