What to Pack for a Trans-Siberian Railway Journey
Making travel dreams come true often has a practical element. For example, what do you bring when you take the plunge to travel on the Tran-Siberian Railway? It depends on what kind of train you’re riding: the luxurious Golden Eagle or Golden Eagle Danube Express private trains offer abundant amenities, while on other trains – the comfortable Tsar’s Gold and the local trains – you may need to take along a few more things.
Here are useful suggestions for a Trans-Siberian rail journey, regardless of what train you ride.
- Slippers. Wear them inside the cabin (cleaner, and cozier, than street shoes) as well as for walking in your car’s hallway.
- Flip-flops or water sandals. Good for the shower, good for a plunge in Lake Baikal.
- Swimsuit cover-up. Good for a dip in Lake Baikal, a visit to a banya, or for lounging in your cabin.
- Earplugs. A must. You may easily fall asleep to the clickety-clack of the train, but maybe not…
- Eye masks are useful for nighttime train station stops when lights might shine brightly – especially if you’ve left the curtains open staring at Siberian stars.
- Large insulated coffee mug, since beverages in your cabin often may be served in small teacups. Seriously, the cups are itsy-bitsy if you’re used to a 16-ounce mug for your java.
- Packets of tea and instant coffee for when you want to stay in your compartment and not bother the provodnik (cabin attendant) for these beverages.
- Pocketknife for bread and foods you might buy along the way.
- Pepto-Bismol, Imodium. Good for upset stomachs and diarrhea – just in case.
- Melatonin, Benadryl. Ask your pharmacist/doctor first. Often they’ll recommend Benadryl for major time-zone adjustment or long flights, and melatonin for minor sleep issues.
- Sturdy bag/daypack. Good for city touring; often you can leave it on the tour bus. Use it for your travel essentials such as a jacket, water bottle, and umbrella.
- A map of your Trans-Siberian route, and perhaps a city map. You won’t really need them for navigating about town since you’re with the tour group, but it’s useful for orienting yourself, geographically speaking, in the city you’re visiting.
- Hand sanitizer and/or baby wipes. You don’t want to get sick on your “adventure of a lifetime.”
- Voltage converter – just in case. Trains often have in-cabin dual voltage; you also might be able to borrow one from the cabin attendant.
- Hanging toiletries bag. Your toothbrush, deodorant, and such won’t fall as easily when the train starts rocking – and it will.
- Hair dryer. Some trains provide them, but they may not be powerful enough to dry the “frizz” out of your hair.
- Velcro clothesline. Velcro is easier to attach than a standard clothesline with hooks. Although it’s not uncommon for passengers to wash out their undies and socks, the train staff may frown on this, suggesting laundry service instead.
- Phrasebook or cheat-sheet of simple foreign phrases like “Thank you” or “My name is…”
- Thick book like War and Peace or travel books about the Trans-Siberian Railway. Downloading a selection of reading material on your tablet saves weight.
- Music’s a must. Get in the Slavic mood by bringing along songs like Mussorgsky’s stirring “Great Gate of Kiev,” “Theme From Dr. Zhivago” or even Russians’ beloved “Kalinka, Malinka.” (You’ll be singing that one in the bar, for sure!)
- Small gifts for train staff: postcards, candy, t-shirts.
- Photos of your family, your city, your favorite things to do. These are the icebreakers of travel. Don’t leave home without them.
It may sound trite, but along with this essential packing list it’s equally essential to pack a good travel attitude and spirit. After all, this is your dream – make it a good one!
PUBLISHED: January 6, 2015