When it comes to traveling comfortably, most people will pick trains over planes. While planes can let you get to your destination faster, train cars offer more leg and elbow room than airplane cabins. Also, there are no seatbelts to keep you from getting and moving around, and the slower pace of travel makes time zone changes less taxing. Yet, being stuck in a train seat for hours and hours on end means long train rides can still be exhausting for the body and mind.
Here are some tips to help you get more comfortable on a long train trip:
1. Get an upgraded seat.
If availability and budgets allow, upgrading your seat is probably the best way to make a long train trip more comfortable. That means booking a sleeper cabin instead of a seat so you can lie down and sleep on overnight rides. You may also prefer booking a business- or first-class seat instead of a spot in coach so you can have more legroom, greater recline, and a footrest.
While we’re on it, it’s best if you sit on the window seats. The window gives you something to lean on, and you’ll also enjoy the sceneries out of the train window.
2. Pack things that will make you more comfortable.
If you can’t upgrade your seat, you can pack some props to make a standard train seat more comfortable. Bring a cozy travel pillow or a neck pillow and a microfiber blanket if you’re planning to sleep on your seat.
If you suffer from back problems, you can bring a lumbar support pillow to prevent lower back pain or a seat cushion to take pressure off your spine. If you have short legs or if you want something to put your feet up on, consider bringing an inflatable footrest. These things may add a little extra bulk to your luggage, but you can always use it as an added comfort also when spending the night at the destination you’re going to.
3. Wear comfy clothes.
When deciding on what to pack and wear for train travel, comfortable clothes must be at the top of your list. This is not the time to wear short skirts that you tend to keep pulling down, tight skinny jeans that suffocate your legs, or your highest heels. Instead, opt for clothes that have a relaxed fit and are made from soft and stretchy fabrics.
You can wear T-shirts, cotton dress shirts, ultra-stretch chinos, leggings, athleisure, or anything made of breathable fabrics like cotton, wool, and cashmere.
4. Wear comfortable shoes.
Invest in a comfortable and sturdy pair of walking shoes that will allow you to take leisurely tours at your destination. Wearing your most bulky shoes (and comfiest) makes sense than to pack them.
On a train, it’s always a good idea to bring a pair of rubber flip flops or slippers or open-toe sandals that you can easily slip on to wear in common areas and the bathroom. Anytime you feel like you’re going to the restroom, you can slip them on easily. However, make sure to bring a bag for it because you don’t want those tainted soles touching the rest of your luggage.
5. Bring versatile pieces you can layer.
Style also affects comfort. If you’re confident with your style, then you can be comfortable for long hours on the train.
Pack clothes that are versatile. They must look good enough on their own but also looks great if you spice it up with scarves or colorful accessories. If it’s made of the fabrics mentioned above, they would be easy to roll, won’t take up much space, and won’t need ironing to look presentable.
The outfit you wear must also look fantastic when worn on its own or when layered with a coat, jacket, or scarf if in case it gets chilly on the train.
6. Bring something that can keep you when sleeping.
Depending on your location, the air conditioning on trains can be overzealous. Night trains can get really chilly when the central air conditioning is left on. Bring an oversized scarf or a light cardigan to keep your arms and shoulders warm during summer nights.
But if you’re traveling in the winter, you will need proper gear. A comfy sweater and warm socks would be enough, as most trains have central heating.
7. Bring entertainment.
A long train ride may render you bored and out of your mind. A tablet stocked with movies, TV series, e-books, or music can be a lifesaver on long train rides. Most trains offer Wi-Fi, but it’s best to bring a mobile data plan for your cybersecurity. The challenge is to keep it charged. Some trans come with power ports on every seat, but make sure you have the right adapter for your charger if you’re traveling to another country. If your train doesn’t have power outlets, consider bringing a fully-charged power bank to keep your phone and other devices running longer.
You can consider bringing some low-tech forms of entertainment, like a book, a pack of cards, or travel games.
8. Pack eye masks and earplugs.
Trains can keep you up at night – or even when you need a nap. If you’re sleepy, you might be distracted by the sound of the wheels chugging on the tracks or by the lights beaming from an oncoming station. You can fend off all the noises and lights using earplugs and eye masks if you’re a light sleeper. Noise-canceling headphones are also a good option if you like falling asleep to music.
9. Choose the right bags.
Expect to hop off and lift your luggage around quite often on a train. Large suitcases that can’t fit on the overhead racks will be placed in the designated baggage areas at the end of the train cars, so make sure you have a carry-on bag that carries your valuables, toiletries, and snacks, such as a sling bag or a light backpack. Choose the perfect backpack for your needs.
You won’t find anyone to help you hoist your luggage on the racks, so make sure that you are comfortable carrying the luggage you use. Meanwhile, a rolling suitcase, duffel bags, and large backpacks are more convenient for stowing into the confined space like the overhead racks and between seats in the train.