Packing TipsTravel Tips

5 Essentials for Surviving an Overnight Train Journey

5 comments4883 views

Recently I took the overnight train from Ayutthaya to Chiang Mai- about a 15 hour journey through the night. It was only my second overnight ride so I’m still a bit of a rookie when it comes to ensuring I get the most amount of sleep. However there are a few things that you can bring with you that I’ve found have helped me.

1. Pacsafe Retractasafe Lock


One of the reasons you might keep waking up at any little sound is because you are worried about your belongings getting ransacked while you are sleeping. This retractable lock can take away that stress. I put it through the TSA approved lock on my backpack, through the lock on my daypack and then threaded it through the metal baggage rack. I put my most important belongings like my phone, camera, passport and laptop in my daypack and leave it at the end of the bed.

2. Eyemask


The train to Chiang Mai was a second class carriage- basically full of about 20 bunks that are concealed by curtains. Unlike private train compartments you don’t have control over the lighting and on our train the lights were left on all night. Without my eyemask I would have had no hope of getting some sleep- especially because I was on the top bunk and the big lights were shining right through my curtain.

3. Earplugs


This is something I definitely regretted not having with me. There is lots going on on a train- even an overnight one. Some people got off in the middle of the night- others got on and made heaps of noise. Then there is just the sound of the train itself. Comfortable earplugs will help this problem.

4. Fleece sleeping bag liner


sleeping bag

I have a fleece sleeping bag insert that is meant to provide extra warmth and keep your sleeping bag clean. I don’t actually travel with a sleeping bag but this blanket is just as snug. It’s great both for keeping you warm as the air conditioning on the train can be brutal, keeping you comfortable as the blankets provided on the train were basically towel texture and adding some piece of mind if the sheets on your bunk are looking a little dubious (the ones on our train were super clean).


5. Medication

Not something that I require but if you experience motion sickness you definitely want to be bringing some preventatives with you. Some people also benefit from sleeping pills although I don’t use them myself.


What are your essentials for surviving long journeys?

photo by:


  1. Awesome list!

    When I was travelling trains in Europe in the ’90s, I had those, except for the lock. I had a cotton sleepingbag liner, which I always took to be sure I could sleep cleanly in the Backpacker’s hostels. I enjoyed the compactness. I would’ve killed for fleece, but it didn’t exist yet. So I used my warm sweater and a warm legging to keep warm at night. I know what you mean about the airco’s being brutal in trains.

    To this day I don’t travel without earplugs and eye mask. If you’ve spent any time in Bapckpackers’ hostels, you know you need them.

    Keep enjoying!

  2. Love your use of a London Underground train for a blog on overnight train travel!! Did one one in Vietnam (Hanoi to Sapa) a couple of years back. Quite comfortable in a sleeper but noisy. Good headphones should be considered.

Leave a Response

CommentLuv badge