So, you have a long train journey ahead of you. And while a rail trip a priori can't be boring, it's better to have a few options on how to spice up your time onboard. Sure, all modern trains provide excellent amenities, such as power sockets, Wi-Fi, and some even boast multimedia systems at every seat (check out Rail.Ninja to read more about European trains and what they have to offer), but why not try something new this time? So, let's see what a traveler can do onboard apart from staring into a window and checking his watch every few minutes.
Download movies from your movie-list
In no particular order, our list starts off with the beloved by many activity of watching movies. Everyone has that movie list that they keep on adding their friend's suggestions to or films that you didn't have the time to finish. Time will pass as fast as the movies' run time, so put that list to good use and write up a compilation of the best train movies to watch! Not only will you get enjoyment from relaxing and crossing off movies from your list, but you can also use movies to bond with your train mates. Finding the right companion along the journey may appear as a confronting task. However, bonding over movies can last in long and interesting discussions with your companion and can even lead you on to a new adventure.
Pack your train ride games along for a journey
Just like movies, finding a game to play on a train that is not digital is an excellent and perhaps the oldest method to spend time during a train journey. Whereas movies can take upwards of 3 hours, and not all train rides last that long, a game of chess, checkers, or even blackjack can last just minutes, allowing you to set up a new board or deal out the cards again to start a new round. Bringing board games like Cluedo, Monopoly or Scrabble can just as well entertain you during your ride and help you with finding a companion along the way. As long as you don't bring Jenga along, any board game is a great choice!
Try out meditation
Meditation on a train may seem contradictory at first consideration. The train is in motion and shaky, all types of noise surrounding you, from the metal wheels sliding across the railway to the chatter in the corridor. In fact, all those distractions can be the best conditions under which a person can meditate! Taking time to separate yourself from all disturbances, feeling every slight movement at once and focusing on it, then shifting your mind to focus on surrounding sounds, helps you meditate and eventually hear your own thoughts. With meditation, time becomes relative and works in your favour to speed up a long and sometimes tedious train ride. And, of course, meditating can help you get your much-needed rest and calmly put you to sleep.
Occupy yourself with your surroundings
More often than not, railways are built away from populated places. Because of this, your travel route is likely to go through majestic landscapes that you can observe from the window. Seemingly endless fields of greenery, dense and luscious birch tree forests, gigantic snow-capped mountains peeking out from hills, and even uninterrupted animal life can be seen on your way to your destination. You can also take surprisingly detailed photos from your phone of the scenery that separates you and nature by just a few millimetres of the window to later show your travel-enthusiastic friends or for yourself to remember your trip by. Or you can take a more artistic approach and pack drawing equipment or even just a pencil to draw what you see outside the way you interpret it.
Indulge in a mobile (or desktop) game
The simplest way to kill time on a train is to entertain yourself with gaming. Be it a computer or a mobile game, as long as it works offline (most of the time, you won't get any reception on a train ride), you are good to go. However, to make things more interesting for you, find out what genres of games you haven't tried yet and give them a go. Download multiple games on your device to have a backup plan if you don't enjoy some of them and attempt to not open the game until you settle on the train; that way, you get to experience the excitement during the ride. Just like with board games, a game can be for two players on one device, so consider downloading games that you and your potential companion would want to play together!
Pack a book that you've been planning to read
All people enjoy the concept of reading but often find themselves getting distracted with daily routine tasks. On a train journey, there is little to be distracted by, hence it serves as one of all reader's favourite places to read. Alongside a movie and a game, bring a book along for a ride that is of a similar genre that you enjoy, or even a book that has a movie adaptation to find out more about the characters or, more importantly, the plot.
Use time to do activities that you couldn't find time for
One of the most common tips for long train rides that you might get is to occupy yourself with activities that you've been planning on doing. Making progress on your recent design project, learning how to knit, or even planning on where to go on your next journey are all things that can develop into an hours-long productive time that you certainly won't regret.
Play along with your kids
This entry is primarily useful only for parents, however, read on and see if this applies to you or your scenario. What do children enjoy the most during a plane or a train journey? The answer is toys. Bringing along a new toy and letting your child open it on the train will bring them so much excitement that they will lose themselves in the toy and spend the rest of the time figuring out new ways to play with it on a train. Moreover, try to get as excited about the new toy as your child and buy one for yourself to play alongside with your kid.
Prepare a meal in advance to feast on during your ride
Food. As simple as it is will help you skip some of the train travelling time whilst you enjoy every bite and sip of your meal. Despite train rides not requiring any physical effort from you, it is common that passengers find themselves exhausted once on their way to the destination. Such an unorthodox train activity is commented to bring the most enjoyment out of all the aforementioned ones! To spend even more time on food, make yourself a challenge and buy ingredients out of which you can make food on the train instead of preparing it at home or buying pre-made food. This is sure to keep you busy during your ride.
The train environment is one in which all passengers are separated from their comfort zone, and everyone tries to find ways to keep themselves busy. Instead of finding the best train movies to watch or games to play on the train, you can learn and find out much more from the stories of your roomette companion than in any TV-Series. Start a conversation over a board game or a book and develop it into a full-fledged dialogue about that one time you visited a foreign country, or listen to stories that others have to tell and find something useful for yourself. You never know what interesting people with unique backgrounds sit next to you until you start a conversation with them. But always keep in mind social distancing when deciding to engage in conversation!
What's your favourite way to pass the time on a long train journey?