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How to Sleep Well and Stay Safe on a Night Train

How to Sleep Well and Stay Safe on a Night Train

Despite competition from low cost airlines, there are still a large number of night trains operating around the world, particularly in Europe — and for good reason! While it may take around 8 hours to travel overnight, taking a night train is a very time-efficient mode of transport. Why waste time travelling during the day when you can be whisked to your next destination while you sleep? In this post, we’ll discuss how to make the most of your trip by night train, while ensuring you stay safe in the process.

Always book a sleeper compartment or couchette, never a seat

Night train accommodations typically come in three variants: sleeper cabin, couchette, or a seat. A sleeper cabin is the best way to travel, giving you a private cabin to share with a friend — or a stranger if you’re going solo — plus a washbasin and the most personal space you can get on a sleeper train.

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Inside a sleeper compartment

    Moving down the ranks, the next best is a couchette, where you’ll find four to six bunks in each compartment. The bunks aren’t quite as good as the beds you get in a cabin, and there’s no washbasin. However, you will at least be able to lie down.

    That sounds like a downright luxury when compared to what you get in a standard seat. This is the most basic form of accommodation, and usually consists of a carriage with reclining seats. In the worst cases in certain European countries, this carriage may just be a standard daytime carriage, in which case you’d be lucky to get any sleep at all.

    The reclining seat option may save you some money, however it comes at a different type of cost. Do you really want to turn up in a new city feeling incredibly tired after an uncomfortable all-nighter? Because of this, it’s always best to opt for one of the slightly pricier options.

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    Secure your belongings

    Security should be your number one concern on a night train. While robberies are rare, you’re a prime target when you’re asleep, especially on routes with intermediate stops.

    If you have your own private cabin, security is tight, as your compartment can only be unlocked from the inside. Each carriage has its own attendant who will recommend you keep your door locked at all times, and this is well worth doing.

    If you’re sleeping with others in a cabin or couchette, then politely ask everyone to keep the door locked once everyone’s inside. However, it’s a good idea to take extra precautions if you’re travelling solo, as you won’t know how reliable your companions will be.

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    Your best bet is to grab a top bunk and keep your valuables on you in a money belt. Sleeping on top means you’ll be out of reach of any unwelcome visitors. If you’re in a reclining seat, keep your money belt below a layer or two of clothing so they’re safe.

    Next, think about where you put your backpack. Many night trains will have a shelf inside the compartments above the corridor. This is an ideal place to keep your luggage, as it is harder to get at and more noticeable if someone tries to remove your things. There’s also likely to be a bar to stop bags from falling down, which makes for a handy point to attach your bag to. If your backpack has a waist strap, attach this around the bar, making it harder for anyone to take the bag. You can even take it a step further by locking your bag to the bar.

    If you’ve chosen to travel in a reclining seat, then locking your bag to your chair or the luggage rack is a good idea, as it will be within easier reach of any thieves than if you were in a compartment or couchette car.

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    The Warsaw to Budapest night train approaches

      Prepare your bag for bedtime

      There’s nothing worse than having to unpack your entire bag in your cramped couchette cabin to get your toothbrush while everyone else is trying to get into their beds and go to sleep. Avoid annoying your companions and plan ahead. Put everything you need for the train in an outside pocket before you reach the station so you can access it with ease.

      Not only will you want to access your toothbrush and towel, it’s also a good idea to bring a sleeping mask and earplugs. These are really worthwhile if you’re in a carriage with strangers who may be leaving the train at an earlier stop or have a tendency to get up regularly to use the loo.

      Night trains are usually quiet as they speed through the night, however you can get woken up when your carriage is uncoupled, shunted around, and recouped to a different train to get you to your destination, as night trains tend to be split up as carriages are taken to different destinations. If you’re a light sleeper, this is likely to wake you up, so earplugs really do make a difference.

      Featured photo credit: Seb Atkinson via thetraveloid.com

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      Last Updated on March 13, 2019

      How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

      How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

      Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

      You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

      Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

      1. Work on the small tasks.

      When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

      Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

      2. Take a break from your work desk.

      Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

      Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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      3. Upgrade yourself

      Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

      The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

      4. Talk to a friend.

      Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

      Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

      5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

      If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

      Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

      Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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      6. Paint a vision to work towards.

      If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

      Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

      Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

      7. Read a book (or blog).

      The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

      Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

      Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

      8. Have a quick nap.

      If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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      9. Remember why you are doing this.

      Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

      What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

      10. Find some competition.

      Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

      Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

      11. Go exercise.

      Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

      Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

      As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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      Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

      12. Take a good break.

      Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

      Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

      Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

      Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

      More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

      Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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