Are you looking for a unique vacation experience? Train (or rail) travel trips provide a wonderful way to sight-see parts of the rest of the country as well as meet interesting people. Make the most of your trip by planning ahead. Here are 10 tips to help make you comfortable, prepared, and entertained throughout your journey.
Consider booking a sleeper car if you’re traveling for more than a day. You’ll have access to a shower as well as meals and private space. If you’re traveling with children, then try getting a sleeper car at the end of the train so that disturbances to neighbors are kept to a minimum.
Bring snacks and bottled water along. Yes, you can bring your own food, so save yourself from purchasing expensive snacks on the train if you get hungry between meals and stops on the route. Save your money for the meals instead (unless you have a sleeper car, in which case your meals are already covered).
Take a carry-on bag with you. You won’t have easy access to your luggage on the train, so anything essential or that you need access to at all times or in case of an emergency needs to be close at hand. Keep your valuables, such as money or jewelry, in there as well as toothbrushes, toothpaste, medication, snacks, bottled water, small first aid kits, changes of clothing, and other essentials.
Bring enough cash to last you the whole way. With no ATM machines on board, a traveler’s check provides the only other way for you to get cash, unless you can find an ATM at a train stop.
Fully charge any electronic devices you plan on using before boarding. Trains have outlets but they may not be available at every seat, and observations cars may have only one outlet for all aboard. Cut down your chances of waiting in a long line by charging up before you leave the house.
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Bring plenty of entertainment, even more than you think you’ll need. Books, magazines, card games, and electronic devices like iPods help pass the time whenever you get tired of the scenery. Alternatively, you can get a closer look at the scenery with a pair of binoculars. Rubik cubes, word puzzles, and board games (as long as they don’t have too many small pieces that can get lost) are good too.
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Bring your own blanket (and maybe a small pillow). With air conditioning, it can get very cold on the train, even during the summer. Consider taking earplugs as well, if you decide to sleep in your seat instead of a private car. You never know if one of your neighbors snores loudly, and you can mute any other ambient noise too.
Carry wet wipes and your own toilet paper. Use the wet wipes to wash up. Have the toilet paper handy in case the train’s supply runs low or out, which can happen when the trip starts winding down.
Stay close to the train when you step off at a stop. Among other things, this is the time to buy snacks, get some fresh air, or take a smoke since the entire train is most likely off limits to smoking. However, if you wander too far for too long, the train won’t wait for you!
Finally, leave yourself plenty of time to get to an event off the train. The traveling schedule could be several hours behind, so don’t expect your train to be on time throughout the trip like clockwork. Give yourself several hours worth of a head start, just in case.
As with many other situations in life, knowledge and meticulous planning and preparation smooth the pathway to an enjoyable ride. By using the advice above, you’re sure to experience the joys of train vacation traveling, either by yourself or with the family. Good luck and have plenty of fun!