When it comes to comfort, most travelers would pick trains over planes any day. Train cars usually offer more leg and elbow room than airplane cabins, there are no seatbelt signs to keep you from getting up and moving around, and the slower pace of travel makes time zone changes less taxing. And yet, being stuck in a seat for hours on end means long train rides can still be tough on the body and mind.
From seat recommendations to advice on what to pack for train travel, the following tips will help make your next long rail journey easier and more comfortable.
- Worth the Upgrade
If budget and availability allow, upgrading your seat is perhaps the most important thing you can do to make a long train ride more comfortable. That might mean booking a sleeper cabin instead of a seat so you can lie down on overnight rides, or a first- or business-class seat instead of a spot in coach to land yourself more legroom, a footrest, and greater recline.
- Choose the right seat
Window seats on planes are popular with travelers who like to enjoy the views and/or have something to lean on, and window seats on trains have the same appeal—if not more so since you’re even more likely to have scenery worth seeing out the windows of a train.
Many trains have both front- and rear-facing seats; if you’re prone to motion sickness, snag one of the former so you can see where you’re going.
- Pack props
Let’s face it: A standard train seat may be comfortable for some, but it won’t suit passengers of every size and height. Got short legs? Consider bringing an inflatable footrest so your feet aren’t dangling the whole journey. Suffer from lower back or tailbone problems? Pack an inflatable seat cushion to take pressure off your spine on long train rides, or a lumbar support pillow to prevent lower back pain after prolonged sitting.
- Bring Your Own Entertainment
A tablet stocked with books, movies, and music can be a lifesaver on long train rides, but you’ll need a plan for keeping it charged. Some trains have power ports at every seat; make sure you have the right adapter for your charger if you’re traveling in a foreign country. On trains without power outlets, consider bringing a portable charger to keep your devices running longer.
Consider bringing along some low-tech forms of entertainment, too, like travel games or even a simple pack of cards.
- Wear comfortable clothes
When deciding what to pack for train travel, comfy clothes should be at the top of your list. This is not the time to pack your tightest skinny jeans or your highest heels; instead, opt for clothes with a relaxed fit that is made with soft, stretchy fabrics. Options include ultra-stretch chinos for men, high-rise black leggings for women, and slippers for those late-night trips to the bathroom on an overnight train.
It’s always a good idea to wear layers in case the temperature on the train is too hot or cold for your taste.