Train Travel Survival Guide

As I continue to chronicle my travels in Sweden, Paris (here and here) and Italy, I wanted to share something important: how to survive all those hours on the train! We took a flight from Sweden to Paris, but after that, we traveled on high speed and commuter trains from Paris all the way to Venice. The toughest parts? Juggling our luggage and knowing a few key differences between US and European train travel (for example, you usually have an assigned seat/cabin number; also, in Italy, you have to validate your ticket before you get on board). The best parts? Entertaining ourselves and watching the gorgeous(!) scenery whiz by. Here’s how we passed the time:

• Matt taught me how to play poker—and I cleaned up. We played for real money, and I kept winning! First, he taught me Texas Hold ‘Em, then he taught me the original game. It was such a fun way to relax and kick back. People around us in other seats kept tuning in to see who was ahead. 

• I used Day One, an awesome app that allows you to record details about your travels in real time. It’s like a digital journal, but it also records the weather and location for you, and allows you to plug in pics, too. Since we had 3-4 hours on the train every 3-4 days during our trip, I used this time to jot down all the things I wanted to remember about the cities we were in.

• I carried “The Vacationers” by Emma Straub. It’s a fun read about a family that travels together for a two-week vacation on the coast of Spain. It was nice and relaxing to read about someone else’s vacation while I was on vacation myself. :)

The rest of the time, I listened to a lot of Carla Bruni and took in the pretty views.

Do you have any tips for surviving lots of train travel? What do you pack to pass the time? 

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