Trippy Tips for Train Travellers

Here are my fabulous tips for those who take long haul train journeys. I'd consider an hour and a half the minimum for it to be called 'long haul'. That is based on my experiences travelling a myriad of miles from cities across Europe (and the increased level of whining by children per 15 minutes of travel). The longest direct train trip I've taken was 12 hours by day from Paris to Florence via Milan. I don't have any knowledge of night travel. No wait, I have travelled Melbourne to Sydney by night train...

Don't ever do that unless you want to end up rocking back and forth in a corner sobbing your eyes out and calling for your Mummy.

Teddy anyone?

Teddy anyone?

Tip 1. If you need to blow your nose OR clean out your ears OR pick your teeth, please kindly take your delightful self to the toilet to do so.

The other day I was eating my breakfast on the Eurostar - a cheesy tart of warm gooeyness with a cute sprig of green on it. Then the guy across the aisle decided to blow his nose. I ask you to now reread my meal description. Tell me you'd feel like eating that after hearing some guy empty what sounded like three years of Paris pollution out of his proboscis.

Tip 2. Go to the toilet before the train starts.

Unless you are desperate. In which case be prepared to have your dignity shattered when the train hits a bump and you go plonk onto the floor with your knickers around your ankles. However if you go to the toilet first thing, you'll have plenty of time to refresh, put your excess stuff (scarf, passport etc) in your suitcase and walk to your seat ready to settle in for a comfy ride. Which leads me to my pet gripe ...

Tip 3. Please remember that not all luggage is created equal.

I've seen people come on trains with a suitcase - plus forty other pieces of 'non luggage'. That oversized box of macarons, the bulky shopping bag from a high end clothing store... You name it, I've seen it oversized.  Take the clothes out of the shopping bag (you're not being paid to advertise the brand so don't be a wankerish show-off) and put them in your suitcase. As for your macarons - unless you're eating them on the train - take the tiny box of treats out of the oversized box and put them into that oversized suitcase you've already tried to kill everyone with at the train station. Oooh another pet gripe!...

Tip 4. There is no cargo hold carriage on trains.

You know how a train is a certain size and so are luggage spaces? Some naive train designer assumed all train travellers would understand these restrictions. Unfortunately, without fail, at least three people will get into a train carriage with one of those obnoxiously rock solid, enormous, ghastly pink or blue suitcases and try to shove it in the luggage space where it won't fit (mainly because it's not squishy but mostly because it's oversized). Then they give up and attempt to put it in the aisle and slink off to their seat hoping no-one notices. Hmmm. For a reason I'm yet to work out, wheelchair seating is next to luggage racks so of course I notice (and comment...)

"Would you like me to pee in my seat now that you've inconsiderately blocked access to the toilet?" 

Tip 5. The train aisle is not a playground for children.

I admit I probably don't like your children already but I accept that I must live in society and take train trips with the little horrors sweet things. However, letting them release their energy by allowing them to gallop up and down the aisle like unbridled horses is not on. Not to mention that they inevitably fall over resulting in a sound akin to a cat on a hot tin roof (in a confined space). This of course does not include French children. They wouldn't think of leaving their seat because of the threat of a French parent's 'talk' which is done in public, quietly and at their eye level and is a knee shaking thing to witness.

Tip 6. There's no need to create a queue at the door before the train stops.

You are not cows waiting to be milked. The train will not drive off to its next destination with you still on the train if you are the last off. You are only being a selfish nuffy blocking the exit in an emergency, you are not going to get out of the station any faster and god forbid you let the chick in the wheelchair get off first!

In closing my post of remarkably helpful tips I'd like to just add one more thing. I've got a sudden hankering for a cheese toastie. Melty deliciousness! This of course has nothing to do with the blog post but I thought I'd drive you crazy by mentioning it so that now you feel like one too.


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About Sandra E Brown

I withdrew from my Masters (Neuropsychology) to write a blog instead, and to teach English as a second language. Life is too short to be doing something you want to retire from at 65! I now live in Paris, France.
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