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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 July 10, 2020

      How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

      How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

      We all have them—those hurtful, frustrating, offensive, manipulative people in our lives. No matter how hard we try to surround ourselves with positive and kind people, there will always be those who will disrespect, insult, berate, and misuse you if we allow them to.

      We may, for a variety of reasons, not be able to avoid them, but we can determine how we interact with them and how we allow them to interact with us.

      So, how to take control of your life and stop being pushed around?

      Learning to set clear firm boundaries with the people in our lives at work and in our personal lives is the best way to protect ourselves from the negative effects of this kind of behavior.

      What Boundaries Are (And What They’re Not)

      Boundaries are limits

      —they are not threats or ultimatums. Boundaries inform or teach. They are not a form of punishment.

      Boundaries are firm lines—determined by you—which cannot be crossed by those around you. They are guidelines for how you will allow others to treat you and what kind of behaviors you will expect.

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      Healthy personal boundaries help protect you from physical or emotional pain. You may also need to set firm boundaries at work to ensure you and your time are not disrespected. Don’t allow others to take advantage of your kindness and generosity.

      Clear boundaries communicate to others that you demand respect and consideration—that you are willing to stand up for yourself and that you will not be a doormat for anyone. They are a “no trespassing” sign that makes it very clear when a line has been crossed and that there will be consequences for doing so.

      Boundaries are not set with the intention of changing other people. They may change how people interact with you, but they are more about enforcing your needs than attempting to change the general behavior and attitude of others.

      How to Establish Boundaries and Take Control of Your Life

      Here are some ways that you can establish boundaries and take control of your life.

      1. Self-Awareness Comes First

      Before you can establish boundaries with others, you first need to understand what your needs are.

      You are entitled to respect. You have the right to protect yourself from inappropriate or offensive behavior. Setting boundaries is a way of honoring your needs.

      To set appropriate boundaries, you need to be clear about what healthy behaviors look like—what healthy relationships look like.

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      You first have to become more aware of your feelings and honest with yourself about your expectations and what you feel is appropriate behavior:

      • Where do you need to establish better boundaries?
      • When do you feel disrespected?
      • When do you feel violated, frustrated, or angered by the behavior of others?
      • In what situations do you feel you are being mistreated or taken advantage of?
      • When do you want to be alone?
      • How much space do you need?

      You need to honor your own needs and boundaries before you can expect others to honor them. This allows you to take control of your life.

      2. Clear Communication Is Essential

      Inform others clearly and directly what your expectations are. It is essential to have clear communication if you want others to respect your boundaries. Explain in an honest and respectful tone what you find offensive or unacceptable.

      Many people simply aren’t aware that they are behaving inappropriately. They may never have been taught proper manners or consideration for others.

      3. Be Specific but Don’t Blame

      Taking a blaming or punishing attitude automatically puts people on the defensive. People will not listen when they feel attacked. It’s part of human nature.

      That said, you do not need to overexplain or defend yourself. Boundaries are not open to compromise.

      Sample language:

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      • “You may not…yell or raise your voice to me…”
      • “I need…to be treated with respect…”
      • “It’s not okay when…you take things from my desk without asking…”
      • “I won’t…do your work…cover for you anymore…”
      • “It’s not acceptable when…you ridicule or insult me…”
      • “I am uncomfortable when…you use offensive language”
      • “I will no longer be able to…lend you money…”

      Being able to communicate these without sounding accusatory is essential if you want others to respect your boundaries so you can take control of your life.

      4. Consequences Are Often Necessary

      Determine what the appropriate consequences will be when boundaries are crossed. If it’s appropriate, be clear about those consequences upfront when communicating those boundaries to others.

      Follow through. People won’t respect your boundaries if you don’t enforce them.

      Standing our ground and forcing consequences doesn’t come easily to us. We want to be nice. We want people to like us, but we shouldn’t have to trade our self-respect to gain friends or to achieve success.

      We may be tempted to let minor disrespect slide to avoid conflict, but as the familiar saying goes, “if you give people an inch, they’ll take a mile.”

      It’s much easier to address offensive or inappropriate behavior now than to wait until that behavior has gotten completely out of hand.

      It’s also important to remember that positive reinforcement is even more powerful than negative consequences. When people do alter the way they treat you, acknowledge it. Let people know that you notice and appreciate their efforts.

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      Final Thoughts

      Respect is always a valid reason for setting a boundary. Don’t defend yourself or your needs. Boundaries are often necessary to protect your time, your space, and your feelings. And these are essential if you want to take control of your life.

      Start with the easiest boundaries first. Setting boundaries is a skill that needs to be practiced. Enlist support from others if necessary. Inform people immediately when they have crossed the line.

      Don’t wait. Communicate politely and directly. Be clear about the consequences and follow them through.

      The better you become at setting your own boundaries, the better you become at recognizing and respecting the boundaries of others.

      Remember that establishing boundaries is your right. You are entitled to respect. You can’t control how other people behave, but you do have control over the way you allow people to treat you.

      Learning to set boundaries is not always easy, but with time, it will become more comfortable. You may eventually find that boundaries become automatic and you no longer need to consciously set them.

      They will simply become a natural extension of your self-respect.

      Featured photo credit: Thomas Kelley via unsplash.com

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