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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 December 2, 2019

      10 Powerful Ways to Stop Worrying and Start Living Today

      10 Powerful Ways to Stop Worrying and Start Living Today

      Plato knew that the body and mind are intimately linked. And in the late 1800s, the Mayo brothers, famous physicians, estimated that over half of all hospital beds are filled with people suffering from frustration, anxiety, worry and despair. Causes of worry are everywhere, in our relationships and our jobs, so it’s key we find ways to take charge of the stress.

      In his classic book How to Stop Worrying and Start Living, Dale Carnegie offers tools to ditch excessive worrying that help you make a worry-free environment for your private and professional life.

      These are the top 10 tips to grab worry by the horns and wrestle it to the ground:

      1. Make Your Decision and Never Look Back

      Have you ever made a decision in life only to second-guess it afterwards? Of course you have! It’s hard not to wonder whether you’ve done the right thing and whether there might still be time to take another path.

      But keep this in mind: you’ve already made your decision, so act decisively on it and dismiss all your anxiety about it.

      Don’t stop to hesitate, to reconsider, or to retrace your steps. Once you’ve chosen a course of action, stick to it and never waver.

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      2. Live for Today, Package Things up in “Day-Tight Compartments”

      You know that feeling: tossing, turning and worrying over something that happened or something that might, well into the wee hours. To avoid this pointless worrying, you need “day-tight compartments”. Much as a ship has different watertight compartments, your own “day-tight” ones are a way to limit your attention to the present day.

      The rule is simple: whatever happened in the past or might happen in the future must not intrude upon today. Everything else has to wait its turn for tomorrow’s box or stay stuck in the past.

      3. Embrace the Worst-Case Scenario and Strategize to Offset It

      If you’re worried about something, ask yourself: “What’s the worst thing that could happen?” Could you lose your job? Be jailed? Get killed?

      Whatever the “worst” might be, it’s probably not so world-ending. You could probably even bounce back from it!

      If, for example, you lose your job, you could always find another. Once you accept the worst-case scenario and get thinking about contingency plans, you’ll feel calmer.

      4. Put a Lid on Your Worrying

      Sometimes we stress endlessly about negative experiences when just walking away from them would serve us far better.

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      To make squashing that worry easier, try this strategy, straight from stock traders: it’s called the “stop-loss” order, where shares are bought at a certain price, and then their price development is observed. If things go badly and the share price hits a certain point, they are sold off immediately. This stops the loss from increasing further.

      In the same manner, you can put a stop-loss order on things that cause you stress and grief.

      5. Fake It ‘Til You Make It – Happiness, That Is

      We can’t directly influence how we feel, but we can nudge ourselves to change through how we think and act.

      If you’re feeling sad or low, slap a big grin on your face and whistle a chipper tune. You’ll find it impossible to be blue when acting cheerful. But you don’t necessarily need to act outwardly happy; you can simply think happier thoughts instead.

      Marcus Aurelius summed it up aptly:

      “Our life is what our thoughts make it.”

      6. Give for the Joy of Giving

      When we perform acts of kindness, we often do so with the expectation of gratitude. But harboring such expectations will probably leave you disappointed.

      One person well aware of this fact was the lawyer Samuel Leibowitz. Over the course of his career, Leibowitz saved 78 people from going to the electric chair. Guess how many thanked him? None.

      So stop expecting gratitude when you’re kind to someone. Instead, take joy from the act yourself.

      7. Dump Envy – Enjoy Being Uniquely You

      Your genes are completely unique. Even if someone had the same parents as you, the likelihood of someone identical to you being born is just one in 300,000 billion.

      Despite this amazing fact, many of us long to be someone else, thinking the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. But living your life this way is pointless. Embrace your uniqueness and get comfortable with who you really are: How to Be True to Yourself and Live the Life You Want

      8. Haters Will Hate — It Just Means You’re Doing It Right

      When you’re criticized, it often means you’re accomplishing something noteworthy. In fact, let’s take it a step further and consider this: the more you’re criticized, the more influential and important a person you likely are.

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      So the next time somebody talks you down, don’t let it get to you. Take it as a compliment!

      9. Chill Out! Learn to Rest Before You Get Tired

      Scientists agree that emotions are the most common cause of fatigue. And it works the other way around, too: fatigue produces more worries and negative emotions.

      It should be clear, therefore, that you’ve got to relax regularly before you feel tired. Otherwise, worries and fatigue will accumulate on top of each other.

      It’s impossible to worry when you are relaxed, and regular rest helps you maintain your ability to work effectively.

      10. Get Organized and Enjoy Your Work

      There are few greater sources of misery in life than having to work, day in, day out, in a job you despise. It would make sense then that you shouldn’t pick a job you hate, or even just dislike doing.

      But say you already have a job. How can you make it more enjoyable and worry-free? One way is to stay organized: a desk full of unanswered mails and memos is sure to breed worries.

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      Better yet, rethink about the job you’re doing: What to Do When You Hate Your Job but Want a Successful Career

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      Featured photo credit: Tyler Nix via unsplash.com

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