It’s been raining in Falmouth for three days now, and the claustrophobia resulting from trying to stay inside all day has reminded me of the same cramped feeling I get when I’m on a train. Living in Cornwall is great most of the time, but getting home on occasions like reading week and Christmas is a long trip for those of us who don’t actually live in Cornwall.
Being from Yorkshire, my journey is significantly longer than most peoples…As the title suggests, it’s a whopping nine hours. I can either go from Penryn to Truro to London to Hull, or Penryn to Truro to Plymouth to Sheffield to Hull. It doesn”t make much difference, I still clock up nine hours or so. As a result, I feel i’m qualified to give some advice on how to retain your sanity should you ever have to undergo a long distance train journey.
Make sure you eat beforehand, and maybe dose up on caffeine.
There’s nothing worse than stomach grumbling your way through a journey, either being forced to make do with a rather unsatisfying cheese sandwich or paying the extortionate prices for train food. I always try to make sure I eat a big breakfast, complete with hash browns and spaghetti hoops. If you plan on making it a productive journey, start the day with a large cup of coffee – if you want to sleep however, it’s probably best to skip that part…
Have all your tickets and documents organised and within reach.
Let’s face it, it’s just really awkward when the ticket person comes round and you’re stuck fumbling around for your journey ticket, seat reservation AND student railcard. And, it’s even worse if you’ve forgotten one of them.
If you travel fairly regularly, invest in one of those cute card holders from Paperchase or somewhere just to keep them all together, then have it in your pocket or front section of a backpack. Basically, just make sure you know where everything is!
Reserve a seat near the luggage rack.
This one obviously only applies if you’re travelling with large luggage, but I think it’s a good one if, like me, you own a bog standard black suitcase and are constantly overwhelmed with the fear that it will accidentally be taken every time the train pulls in to a stop. Sitting near the luggage rack is a good way to satiate that paranoia, because you can check over your shoulder now and again to make sure it’s still there without seeming suspicious.
Wear comfy clothes.
Crack out the baggiest jumper you own, because comfort is key if you’re on stuffy, cramped trains all day. Even ugg boots are acceptable in this situation, fluffy socks and all. Take your big winter jacket along too, because not only will it save having to squeeze it into your suitcase, it also doubles up as a sort of blanket. The caffeine may stop you from actually sleeping, but you might as well be comfortable in the meantime.
Stare moodily out of the window for a while with your headphones on.
It takes me a long time to get settled in my seat, so listening to music for a bit whilst watching the world go by kind of sets the tone of the day for me. It’s a good way to get your thoughts in order if you’re feeling restless or unsure of how to best use your time. Just take a step back for half an hour or so and enjoy the view. (I’d recommend a bit of Kodaline, or generally just something with an acoustic vibe, but that’s just me!)
Catch up on the reading you were supposed to do during reading week…
I think most of us are guilty of using free time to relax rather than be productive and do University work. I knew I had a lot of people to meet up with and probably wouldn’t want to work when I went home for reading week, so I did the bulk of it during those two nine hour journeys to balance it out. You might as well get it out of the way whilst you can, because when else are you going to have the time to read the Cambridge Companion to Shakespeare in full?
Finally, check in advance whether free wifi is available!
Hands down, the worst thing that can happen on a train, second only to losing your ticket, is having to pay to use the internet aboard trains, particularly when you lose the signal for your own mobile data. Take your laptop or tablet with you and download programmes from the BBC IPlayer in advance, as you can watch these offline at any time and it will kill some of the journey time.
And if you’re willing to go nine hours without an internet connection, then high five to you. You’re a braver person than I am.