9 Tips to Survive Long-haul and Overnight Train Trips

by | May 26, 2021 | Live Work Play Travel, Travelling | 0 comments

Train travel is a popular option and there are some amazing train trips to take as you travel the world. Take Europe for instance, get on the train at night in one country and arrive in another country the next morning. Sounds quite romantic doesn’t it. To ensure you have as enjoyable trip as possible there are some things you can do and items to take with you on board to help you enjoy the train trip and get some sleep. Here are my 9 tips to help you survive long-haul and overnight train trips.

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Tips To Sleep On A Train


I must admit, I think train travel is more comfortable than bus travel mainly because you have more options to move around a train. You can take a walk to the restaurant car for instance which you cannot do on a bus. Still, there are things you encounter when travelling by train that are part and parcel of train travel. There is the rocking of the train as it moves and as it stops. There are also regular noises such as the sliding doors opening as people move through the carriages. Add don’t forget the people noises of chatting, snoring, the opening of a packet of chips and crying kids to name a few. And on overnight trips, sometimes you just cannot sleep but hopefully you will with the following tips. 


1. Book a Recliner Seat or a Bed in a Sleeper Compartment


Beds In A Sleeper Compartment Of A Train.

Book a bed in a sleeper compartment to get some rest


Many long haul train journey’s can be overnight which means you will be sleeping during your journey. Travellers like to travel overnight because it means they can get on in one place and get off in a new place in the morning. Budget travellers enjoy doing this so they don’t have to pay for accommodation and can keep on travelling when they get off the train. This is great in theory, however, if you didn’t get enough sleep overnight you may not enjoy the next day.

When purchasing your ticket consider how long your train trip will be and whether you will be travelling overnight. If so, consider booking a specific type of seat, such as a reclining seat – if they have them – or a sleeper for your long haul train trip. Some sleeper compartments can be single occupancy while others will have 2, 4 or more beds in a compartment. Check out the options before you book as sharing a sleeper compartment can be a squeeze. If you choose to book a regular seat on your train trip there are a number of things you can do to help you be comfortable during your journey. Read on.


2. Book A Place In The Middle Of The Carriage


If you did not secure a bed in a sleeper compartment or a recliner seat, the next best thing is to try to get a seat in the middle of the carriage. This is because you will be far enough away from each entrance to not be bothered by the sliding doors opening. Or close to the bathroom which may exude some interesting smells!


3. Dress Comfortably


Layers, layers, layers is your best bet for long-haul and overnight train travel. Clothing made from cotton and eco-friendly fabrics that breathe are best. There is nothing worse that sitting on a hot train itching from inappropriate clothing or freezing because you didn’t pack enough warm clothes. Clothes that are loose and that stretch are ideal for your journey so forget those tight jeans. 


4. Bring a Blanket or Sleeping Bag


The climate on trains tends to be chily, and if you have a long-haul trip or an overnight trip a blanket may well come in handy. Being comfortable in your clothes is one thing but being comfortable in your seat or bed is another. A blanket over you can help your comfort during the trip and is one of our top 9 tips on how to sleep on a train. As well as offering warmth it can also block out the lights if you place it over your face – but ensure you can still breath! If you are travelling with a sleeping bag then you could easily sleep in this rather than take a blanket.


5. Bring An Inflatable Neck Pillow and a Sleep Mask


There is nothing worse than waking up with a stiff neck because you haven’t supported your head. Therefore, an inflatable neck pillow is a travelling essential for trains. There are many styles out there. Another travel essential is a sleep mask. These come in handy to block out any light, particularly those flashing lights that occur along the train line as the train passes or from the light of the person next to you who has decided to read a book the whole night. By wearing one you can remove any light distractions for a better night’s rest. Yes, these tiny things that don’t take up too much room in your luggage are a great item to help you survive long or overnight train journeys.


6. Go through your nightly routine


Yes, if possible try to keep up your nightly routine. It can be difficult, particularly on a packed train but if possible, do a couple of things like wash your face, clean your teeth and brush your hair. All these things can help your rest. And then in the morning, do your morning routine to help wake you up.


7. Take Noise Cancelling Headphones And Enjoy Some Music or Read a Book


Good, noise cancelling headphones or earphones are on most traveller’s essential item list. They are great for blocking out unwanted noise and allowing in noise you want like your favourite playlist of tunes. Music can be a great way to fall asleep on a train. As is reading. Many people love to read before they go to bed. Why not bring a magazine or book to help relax your mind so you can get some sleep on a train. 


8. Keep Your Belongings Safe


You need to keep your bags somewhere while on the train and that will usually be near the door in a luggage area. However, always have a small backpack or overnight bag for your journey where you can keep your things. Having all your important things in this bag is essential but more essential is to ensure you know where this bag is at all times. I would run out of fingers and toes if I tried to count how many times I used my bag as a pillow! But knowing where your essential stuff is like your passport, wallet, mobile, glasses, etc. are will help you to have a worry-free train journey. 


9. Take Snacks


There is nothing worse than having hunger pains that keep you awake at night. If you can, have a meal before you get onto the train as feeling full will help you relax. But if hunger does strike, have some snacks that will keep those hunger pains at bay.

These are my tips for helping you to sleep on a long-haul or overnight train journey. Now you are ready to enjoy some of the great train journeys of the world. I hope you find them useful and if you can add to the list please mention your tips in the comments following.


Great Train Journeys of the World


While a plane might get you wherever you are going fast, nothing beats the romance of staring out a train window watching the world go by. Here are some great train journeys of the world to consider.

Trans Siberian Railway, Russia
Eurail – well its a pass through Europe
Rocky Mountaineer, Canada
Glacier Express, Switzerland
TranzAlpine, New Zealand
West Highland Line, Glasgow to Mallaig, Scotland
The Ghan, Australia
The Indian Express, Australia
The Flam Railway, Norway
The Arctic Train, Norway
Rovos Rail’s Namibia Safari, South Africa
Belmond Hiram Bingham, Peru
Golden Eagle Danube Express, Central Europe and Transylvania
Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, Colorado, USA
White Pass and Yukon railroad, Canada and USA
Copper Canyon Railway, Mexico
St Kitts scenic railway, St Kitts and Nevis
Reunification Express, Vietnam
Marrakech Express, Morocco
Konkan Railway, India


Train Tracks. Looking Along Train Tracks That Will Take You On A Journey To Another Place.

Thanks for sharing!

Useful Travel Resources for Your Next Adventure!


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Car Rental: When I need to rent a car I turn to RentalCars.

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Bus Travel: Check out Busbud for bus tickets.

Pre-organised Tours: I’ve been on a few in my time with Contiki being my first and favourite. if you are 18-35 years of age you should check them out.

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Hi. Sharyn here. Savvy Australian female with a passion for travel and working abroad. I’m on a mission to provide you with my best tips, tricks and hacks to work abroad and travel the world. If I can do it, so can you!  Read more.


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