Friday, September 21, 2012

What to Pack When You Travel by Train

Of all the modes of transportation, train travel is often the most confusing, when it comes to packing. Like plane trips, you are allowed 1 or 2 carry-on bags and heavier baggage, which should be checked in. You cannot access checked-in baggage, until you disembark. When it comes to carry-on baggage, which travel accessories are really necessary? The ironic thing about packing (especially last-minute packing), is that you realize what you should and shouldn't have packed, only when you have boarded the train. You can prevent such irony by packing right. In this article, learn what items should make it or be erased from your train travel packing list.

How to Pack for a Train Trip

Carry Your Own Entertainment

Train journeys can be a moving visual treat with scenic views and outdoor beauty, but after a while, the countryside seems to look the same. Come nighttime, and you won't be able to see anything outside; so, pack something that will amuse you on the journey or keep your brain cells whirring.

Bookworms should make the most of a train trip by indulging in some heavy-duty, uninterrupted reading. Pack a
or two (or even more) to sink into your seat and read. A book of puzzles or brain-teasers will also keep you on your mental toes. Grab some
for light reading. You can also pack a lightweight journal or diary and jot down notes. An
saves you the hassle of carrying heavy books, as it can store a whole library of literature in one small device. If you are traveling with company, then get a portable board game like a miniature
chess set
or a
deck of cards


If books are not your cup of tea, then get along a
portable DVD player
, a handheld
game console
or a
tablet PC
for your multimedia needs. A tablet PC is the most handy of all gadgets for a train trip; it is easy to carry around, use and store. Plus it allows you to do a variety of functions on a single device. Laptops fall into the same category. With Wi-Fi available on most train routes, you can surf the Web to keep yourself amused.

You could just pack an
and listen to music. Headphones are compulsory to avoid disturbing those around you. In all this talk of gadgets, your cell phone is a no-brainer. Another essential electronic accessory is the charger for a said gadget as electronic gadgets will run out of battery juice at some point or the other.

The amount and location of power outlets on a train, differ based on the type of seat (first-class has an outlet at every seat), so charge devices before making the train trip or get a lot of batteries, if you can't find a free power outlet. If you're traveling with kids, remember that they get very bored very easily and quickly. Pack some
small toys
or a board game or
coloring books and crayons
to keep them (and you) happy.

Make Your Journey Comfortable

Whether this is your first train trip or your fiftieth, two "comfort" items needed for long distance train trips are a
light blanket
and a
. It can get cold at night in the train, so get a lightweight small blanket or a pashmina that folds up easily to store in your bag; yet is snug enough to keep you warm. Instead of leaning your head on the window screen or struggling with the seat, get a travel pillow to lay your head on. A train attendant can provide a pillow if available but you may not feel that comfortable. A
compressible foam pillow
is ideal as it is conveniently portable. If you experience neck pain, get a neck pillow for added support.

Other comfort items that can be included in your train packing checklist are as given below.

basic toiletries or a toiletry kit
, which contains soap, floss, toothbrush and toothpaste.
Tissues or paper towels
are needed for wiping up a spill or to wipe hands clean. For washing your face sans water, pack some antibacterial wet wipes.
A small
face towel, skin moisturizer, deodorant and face wash
will keep you looking fresh throughout the trip.
In case of a long train journey, keeping yourself groomed can be a problem. Guys can pack an
electronic shaving kit
, so all they need is a power outlet. If not, they can pack a portable shaver and shaving cream.
Ladies can keep a portable
makeup kit
with bare essentials like eyeshadow, foundation and lipstick. A small comb or hair brush is a must-have for both sexes.
Eye care items such as
contact lens solution
should be carried. Get some
eye drops
to soothe dry eyes during the journey.
For a sound and uninterrupted sleep, get a pair of earplugs and an eye mask to block out noise and light.
Pack a spare
change of clothes
and an extra pair of socks in your carry-on bag. Try to pack wrinkle-resistant clothes.
Kids on board means, an extra set of clothes for each child, especially for infants. Pack an extra blanket or two.
handy with you as there are no ATMs on trains and you will be able to withdraw money only at the next station. Carry a reasonable amount and a little extra in case of an emergency.
The motion of the train, inactivity or too much disturbance can give you a headache, so remember to store a strip of Tylenol or
pain-relief medication
for any aches and pains.

Bare Necessities: Food and Water

Yes, you do get food and water on the train. Overnight journeys and long distance trips will give you a chance to enjoy a nice meal in the train's dining car. There is a snack bar from where you buy certain foods and beverages. But don't depend on the train's culinary facilities completely. Certain items you may be craving for at a particular moment, may not be available. The dining car and snack bar will be open at fixed timings. And snacking in a train can get expensive. So avoid such pitfalls, by carrying around your own set of culinary rations. This does not mean bringing the entire fridge. Some satisfying snacks to store with you for a train trip are:

Fruits like apples, oranges, pears, especially those that won't get crushed
Chewing gum, especially if you smoke to keep those nicotine pangs at bay (smoking on the train is not allowed!)
Crackers or chips
Granola and energy bars
Nuts and raisins
Wedges and nubs of cheese
Simple, spill-free sandwiches like peanut butter
Ready-to-eat meals with no cooking required
Flask of coffee or tea
Juice packs

A word of caution: Depending on how long your journey is, pack snacks accordingly; else, you may find yourself hogging. Do not pack any food items that require refrigeration or reheating, as there are no such facilities on the train. Drinking alcoholic beverages at your seat, is allowed only in the Sleeping Car. There is tap water on the train, but carry your own bottle of water, especially for a short trip.

Along with your travel items, remember to store the necessary train paperwork, such as your ticket or rail pass. Keep your ticket or pass at hand in your carry-on bag, as you will need to show it to train officials, while boarding the train or during your journey. While packing for train travel, remember that there's a limit to how much you can carry. Two carry-on bags are allowed and their individual weight should not exceed 50 pounds. There are limits prescribed to the physical size of the bags as well. Pack wisely and minimally; try to take items that serve multiple purposes and are compact.
By Rave Uno
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  1. Thanks for your post! While today we're used to traveling by plane, I still travel by train. Not many realize that when you travel by train, you do have to sometimes limit what you take. One of the best pieces of advice, though, is to find a suitcase that will fit all of your items and is sturdy and dependable. I use hardside luggage suitcases as they do just that.

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