Travelling by train can be the ultimate cost-effective, comfortable and interesting way to travel. But if you’re stuck in the same carriage for the next several hours or more, what’s the best way to pass the time? Long distance train travel tends to come with less standard perks than long distance plane journeys, a necessary byproduct of the reduction in price. So, it’s best to be prepared before you board. With plenty of your own entertainment packed and ready to keep you occupied until you arrive at your destination, even 12 hours on a train will be a breeze.
It can be tempting to plug straight in to your phone, book or well-deserved nap upon first boarding a train, but I recommend you take at least a few minutes to absorb your surroundings. Train travel can be a truly surprising and delightful experience if you learn how to appreciate it. If you’re lucky enough to snag a window seat, you can sit and enjoy the view racing past outside and perhaps catch sight of local wildlife or landmarks. Chances are that on a long-distance journey the landscape will change dramatically as you travel, and it can be relaxing to watch it all pass by as you speed onwards.
As you settle in, you may find a couple of things useful in order to help you relax. A cosy fleece or hoody, comfortable travel pillow and your own snacks can work wonders making you feel at home in an unfamiliar environment. Putting a small amount of effort into making sure your journey is as easy and enjoyable as it can be will prove more than worth it.
Soothed by the gentle motion of the carriage and the speeding landscapes outside the window, you may find yourself drifting into a doze. Why not take this opportunity to catch up on your beauty sleep? In a busy world where early mornings and late nights can often be the norm, the little bubble of calm that is a train journey gives you the perfect excuse to catch a guilt-free forty winks.
If like me you have an active mind, you’ll want some engaging activities to keep you occupied once you’re done relaxing. I find that I can’t nap for long whilst travelling, so I need an activity to stimulate my brain and get my synapses firing with games like “focus maintain“ or ”spin fun“. There are now plenty of exciting games and apps readily accessible on any phone or device, and they happen to make the perfect train journey pastime. Whether you crave the instant gratification of easy, fast-paced games or something a little more challenging, there’s a wide variety available at just the tap of a screen.
You may even want to incorporate learning a new skill into your game-playing, with an app like DuoLingo or SoloLearn. Apps such as these use simple, rewarding on-screen tasks to teach you things like a new language or the basics of how to code. This can be especially useful if you’re travelling to a new country by train – imagine arriving at your destination already able to speak a few useful phrases in the local lingo!
Listen and Watch
Many of us like to spend our leisure time catching up with tv shows, watching that film we didn’t get around to seeing in the cinema, or listening to our favourite band’s new album. Train time can be your leisure time! Just because you’re actively travelling doesn’t mean that you can’t sit back and enjoy home comforts whilst on the move. Many train companies now provide online WiFi so you can stream music, tv shows and movies to your heart’s content.
The great thing about train travel is that you can relinquish all responsibility. Unless you have a lot of connections to make (in which case, plan wisely and stay alert!), you can leave everything up to the train driver and crew. So, get stuck in to a new Netflix series, watch a film on Amazon Prime, or plug in to the latest releases on Spotify. All you need is an internet equipped device, preferably a good-sized tablet or laptop, and a pair of headphones.
You could even take the opportunity to explore the varied world of podcasts. There really does seem to be something for everyone, from true crime stories, to agony aunts, to chats about important social issues. Browse through the many different categories and be transported through American history, into the world of sound, and beyond to the bizarre realm of podcast fiction.
Create and Learn
Whether you’re normally a creative person or not, using this free time to make something artistic can prove beneficial to your state of mind. Whether it’s journaling about your travel experiences so far, practicing your photography skills both inside the carriage and looking out of the window, or even making some sketches of your surroundings, the stability and comfort of a train provides the perfect environment to do so.
Whereas on planes you may be too cramped, or in a car the ride may be too bumpy, on a train you will experience a much smoother trip. This not only makes it easier to relax, but also easier to engage in activities more generally associated with home-life. If you’re carriage is a busy one, you could even collaborate with your fellow passengers to create a song or picture that will serve as a unique and personal snapshot of your journey.