I wouldn’t say I’m particularly high maintenance, however, I’m definitely fussy! I enjoy the nicer things in life, just like everybody else, but when I committed to travelling through South East Asia for 6 months, I knew I’d have to be open to accommodation and transport options that weren’t the norm, the dreaded sleeper trains, buses and boats!
Prior to this trip, the longest I’d been on a train was 6 hours and I thought that was a breeze. Seat reclined, had a TV, plug sockets my laptop etc. How different could this be?
Oh, let me tell you!
I love adventure and the stories to be told, inspiring others and opening their mind by showing them new things, but what I don’t like are smelly toilets and cockroaches, but still, I was excited.
I constantly wondered: How comfortable would the bed be? Who would I meet? Did I buy enough snacks?
Here’s how to survive your first sleeper train/bus/boat experience
Figure out exactly what you need during your journey and keep it in your daypack / an easily accessible compartment of your backpack! Here’s what I packed and would suggest:
You’ll want to keep all of your valuables in your daypack and somehow sleep on it. I saw our bus driver try and steal someone’s phone in the middle of the night, so trust me on this one.
1 Elephant pants
1 Long sleeve top
1 Head scarf
Make sure that you’re prepared for it to be both hot and/or cold. It’s impossible to tell before boarding but there’s nothing worse than being in a playsuit/shorts, it’s freezing and you have nothing to wrap up in on your 10-hour journey.
1 Tissue roll / pack
1 Hand sanitiser
1 Hand moisturiser
1 Lip balm
General items that you should be carrying around with you in Asia. If you don’t have them…
1 Face wash
1 Baby wipes
Backpackers already have a bad rep, please keep fresh 🙁
1 Water (1ltr)
3 Bottles of juice
4 Pork sticks
2 Packets of Lays
1 Packet of biscuits
Bring more than you need! Chances are, even when you’ve finished the sleeper part of your journey, you’ll still have further to go, plus, you can never have too many snacks, right?!
Unless you’re super tired and plan on sleeping from the jump, you’re gonna want to really plan ahead with this one. If you’re on the bottom bunk, you’ll have a window (on the train), watch the sunset/rise, take in the beautiful scenery, make friends, talk to people. You never know who you might meet!
It’s a bit mad when I think about it now but meet Jim, he was next to us on our first sleeper train. We were on our way to Chiang Mai with no plans other than to celebrate Songkran in about a week and had nowhere to stay. He offered a bedroom in his house (with his Thai wife – not pictured) in return for a small amount of money and we agreed. #YOLO right?