On a recent family trip to Europe, we caught no less than six trains. The benefits of train travel are numerous, as my dad, David, is happy to point out. While I am not as avid a fan as him, I will agree that the lack of luggage weight restrictions alone is a major pro!
Somewhat of an expert bow on the topic, I offer my top five tips to make sure your train experience is one you wish to repeat, rather than send you screaming straight back to airports again.
1. The train waits for no one
I cannot stress this enough. All bar one of our trains left on the dot of their departure time and not a second later. Whatever you do, don’t leave yourself short on time or you’ll most likely be left standing on the platform watching as the train speeds off into the sunset.
2. Safety still comes first
While it’s significantly less than what you go through at airports, many train stations will still have some level of security screening you’re required to go through before boarding the train. Make sure you leave enough time to pass through security or you’ll be back at point one – without a train.
3. First on, best stored
Slightly similar to overhead locker space on a plane, luggage storage space is at an absolute premium on trains. With most carriages usually only having a few shelves at either end, it pays to be one of the first on board so you can bags a good spot! On this note, cheeky passengers who get on the train after you may try and move your bags; if you feel they’re being unreasonable and your bag isn’t taking up an unfair amount of space, stand your ground and politely point out you’d prefer if they didn’t. Another tip: if seats are back-to-back, there is often further storage in the gap between them on the floor.
If, like me, you have a tendency to get motion sickness, may I suggest planning ahead and having anti-nausea tablets at the ready – I find the bands are fantastic too. Some other helpful hints: I don’t recommend reading or working on a laptop, etc., as this exacerbates the problem. Grab an aisle seat if you can so you’re less aware of the scenery speeding past the window, and if you can, chuck on an eye mask and get some rest – you are (hopefully) on holiday after all!
Forget alcohol. There’s far more important items to BYO on your train journey: namely toilet paper or tissues! Take it from me – the toilets on most trains aren’t great to start with and end up even worse. Get in early and don’t expect there to be toilet paper. Having a back-up option will save you being left high and not so dry. Water, healthy snacks and hand sanitiser are also other good things to have at hand.
Have you travelled by train much? What other tips would you give to ensure the best experience possible?
SJ is a regular travel contributor to YourLifeChoices, and if she had one superpower, it would be teleportation – the ultimate cure for her fear of flying.