Where will the train tracks take you?
Train travel in Australia isn’t as popular as it is in some countries mainly because Australia doesn’t have the same kind of rail infrastructure. This is probably due to the huge distances between some capital cities and the fact that the searing heat can buckle the metal rails making a rail system expensive to maintain. But Australia still has some great train options to help you travel around Australia (see map following). Most of the routes are long and can take quite a few hours, days even, so grabbing some sleep while aboard is usually ‘the norm’ (normal thing to do) that will help you survive a long haul and overnight train trip. Here are some tips for long haul and overnight travel travel in Australia.
Tips To Sleep On A Train
I must admit, I think train travel is more comfortable than bus travel mainly because you have more options to move around a train. You can take a walk to the restaurant car for instance which you cannot do on a bus. Still, there are things you encounter when travelling by train that are part and parcel of train travel. There is the rocking of the train as it moves and as it stops. There are also regular noises such as the sliding doors opening as people move through the carriages. Add don’t forget the people noises of chatting, snoring, the opening of a packet of chips and crying kids to name a few. And on overnight trips, sometimes you just cannot sleep but hopefully you will get some rest with the following tips.
1. Book a Recliner Seat or a Bed in a Sleeper Compartment
The long haul train journey’s in Australia can take a couple of days so booking a recliner seat or a bed in a sleeper compartment will be ideal. Having a place to stretch out and get some rest is a must on these long trips. You want to be able to get off at your destination without having to take a day to recover from lack of sleep. If you choose to book a regular seat on your train trip there are a number of things you can do to help you be comfortable during your journey. Read on.
2. Book A Place In The Middle Of The Carriage
If you did not secure a bed in a sleeper compartment or a recliner seat, the next best thing is to try to get a seat in the middle of the carriage. This is because you will be far enough away from each entrance to not be bothered by the sliding doors opening. Or close to the bathroom which may exude some interesting smells!
3. Dress Comfortably
Layers, layers, layers is your best bet for long-haul and overnight train travel. Clothing made from cotton and eco-friendly fabrics that breathe are best. There is nothing worse that sitting on a hot train itching from inappropriate clothing or freezing because you didn’t pack enough warm clothes. Clothes that are loose and that stretch are ideal for your journey so forget those tight jeans.
4. Bring A Blanket
The climate on trains tends to be chily, and if you have a long-haul trip or an overnight trip a blanket may well come in handy. Being comfortable in your clothes is one thing but being comfortable in your seat or bed is another. A blanket over you can help your comfort during the trip and is one of our top 9 tips on how to sleep on a train. As well as offering warmth it can also block out the lights if you place it over your face – but ensure you can still breath! If you are travelling with a sleeping bag then you could easily sleep in this rather than take a blanket.
5. Bring An Inflatable Neck Pillow and a Sleep Mask
There is nothing worse than waking up with a stiff neck because you haven’t supported your head. Therefore, an inflatable neck pillow is a travelling essential for trains. There are many styles out there. Another travel essential is a sleep mask. These come in handy to block out any light, particularly those flashing lights that occur along the train line as the train passes or from the light of the person next to you who has decided to read a book the whole night. By wearing one you can remove any light distractions for a better night’s rest. Yes, these tiny things that don’t take up too much room in your luggage are a great item to help you survive long or overnight train journeys.
6. Go through your normal routines
Yes, if possible try to keep up your normal routines. It can be difficult, particularly on a packed train but if possible, do a couple of things like wash your face, clean your teeth and brush your hair. All these things can help your rest. And then in the morning, do your morning routine to help wake you up.
7. Take Noise Cancelling Headphones
Good noise cancelling headphones or earphones are on most traveller’s essential item list. They are great for blocking out unwanted noise and allowing in noise you want like your favourite playlist of tunes. Music can be a great way to help you fall asleep on a train. As is reading. Many people love to read before they go to bed. Why not bring a magazine or book to help relax your mind so you can get some sleep on a train.
8. Keep Your Belongings Safe
You need to keep your bags somewhere while on the train and that will usually be near the door in a luggage area. However, always have a small backpack or overnight bag for your journey where you can keep your things. Having all your important things in this bag is essential but more essential is to ensure you know where this bag is at all times. I would run out of fingers and toes if I tried to count how many times I used my bag as a pillow! But knowing where your essential stuff is like your passport, wallet, mobile, glasses, etc. are will help you to have a worry-free train journey.
9. Take snacks
There is nothing worse than having hunger pains that keep you awake at night. If you can, have a meal before you get onto the train as feeling full will help you relax. But if hunger does strike, have some snacks that will keep those hunger pains at bay.
Now you have the tips to get some rest on long-haul and overnight train trips, here are some great Australian train journeys.
Great Australian Train Journeys
While a plane might get you wherever you are going faster, nothing beats the romance of staring out a train window watching the Australian countryside go by. Here are some great train journeys in Australia to consider.
Map courtesy of Australia Rail Maps
The Ghan – Adelaide to Alice Springs and vice versa
Indian Express – Sydney to Perth and vice versa
The Overland – Adelaide to Melbourne and vice versa
Spirit of the Outback – Brisbane to Longreach
Spirit of Queensland – Brisbane to Cairns and vice versa
The Gulflander – Normanton to Croydon in Australia’s remote Gulf of Carpentaria
The Savannahlander – Cairns into the tropical far north to Forsayth and vice versa
The Great Southern – Adelaide to Brisbane
NSW Trainlink – Brisbane – Sydney – Melbourne and vice versa
Sharyn McCullum has travelled all of her life thanks to her dad who worked for an airline. She is the creator of Live Work and Play in Australia. She loves coffee, chocolate and parmas and currently calls Melbourne home. Read More.