Watch the world go by as you relax in your comfortable seat and enjoy the grand vistas that train travel can offer. There are many rail journeys to choose from, whether it be a short hop from town to town or an excursion lasting several days, one thing is for sure; there is no better way to see the country side than by rail. From the Rocky Mountains of North America to the great cities of Europe or the famous rail journeys through the Australian outback and Nullarbor Plain, no matter where your rail journey takes you, it is sure to be an experience like no other.
Rail journeys require a unique set of requirements but with a little forward planning, your scenic trip will be an exciting and memorable one. Here’s a brief rundown on some of the things you’ll want to take with you when riding the rails.
Let’s start with the essentials. These are items that can make or break your trip, so it’s best to be prepared.
Passport and Travel Documents – Depending on your route, you will want to make sure that your passport is packed. If it’s an overnight journey and you don’t have your own sleeper cabin be sure to keep your passport and documents in a safe place at all times. Of course don’t forget to reserve your seat or cabin in advance for longer journeys and be sure to bring all of your rail line documents and boarding passes.
Small, Soft Sided Baggage – Trains can be a comfortable way to travel but there’s not always a lot of extra space for your bags. Try to utilize soft sided bags that can more easily fit in tight storage areas. Pack using the smallest bag possible as often there are only narrow shelves for belongings. For convenience bring an additional small bag or backpack that you can place at your feet for any items that you want easy access to. If possible keep your bags locked for security, especially if you plan on sleeping.
Travel Size Toiletries – For those exclusive rail excursions when you will be occupying your own sleeper cabin, take smaller travel size containers as space is limited in the small private bathrooms. A hanging toiletry bag is perfect for storage as it can be hung easily from a bathroom hook where it’s handy but out of the way.
Now that the essentials have been covered and the contingencies have been planned for, what about the little ‘desirables’ that help to make that rail trip just that little bit more enjoyable? Here are some items that travellers may want to consider bringing with them.
Noise Cancelling Headphones – Whether you’re travelling in just a seat or in your own private cabin, noise cancelling headsets can minimize the ambient noise from the moving train and the tracks below. I find the clickety-clack sound of the rails hypnotic and enjoyable because it’s a unique aspect of train travel, but if you’re a light sleeper or need some quiet time then headphones could do the trick. They’ll also come in handy when it’s time to pull out your personal tablet or music device when you’re ready for a bit of entertainment.
Entertainment and Books – It’s always a good idea to keep a book or some form of entertainment with you, no matter what mode of transport you use. Load your tablet or smart phone with your favourite books, movies and shows for an easy distraction anytime.
Map and Guide Books – I always like to pinpoint my location on a map and want to know what part of the world I’m travelling in. Not only do maps provide an excellent overview of the route but they often detail what natural landmarks and other attractions are close by. Maps are a great tool for sightseeing and an excellent way to learn a bit more about the region you’re travelling in. If the train is making stops along the way, take a guide book and plan some short excursions and see the sites.
Binoculars – An excellent way to see close up the many beautiful sites along the way is with a pair of binoculars, especially on those longer trips that take you through beautiful stretches of countryside or within majestic mountain ranges. Some trains even offer scenic rail cars with large windows and glass tops for the ultimate viewing pleasure.