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Overnight Train Success

“You are taking the overnight train?!” Faces contorted, eyes widened and a few fellow travelers warned against it. I found myself wavering a few times, but I finally decided to take the plunge. After many European train journeys (and mishaps), I had never taken the overnight train and it seemed like a logical way to make the most out of our already limited time in Germany. Adamant on having an extra day in Munich as opposed to losing a day to train travel, the overnight train leaving Munich at 10pm and arriving in Berlin at 8am seemed like the perfect solution. I knew I wanted to book a private compartment so that we could sleep with peace of mind that our belongings were secure and arrive at our destination feeling refreshed, but it definitely costs a little extra for this “luxury.”

As it was my first overnight train, I had no idea what to expect and I was a little nervous that it was not going to go as smoothly as I was anticipating (anyone who has traveled via train in Europe has a train debacle story or two).  However, within 15 minutes of settling into our compartment, a most helpful train attendant came around to show us where to find everything and take our breakfast order (yes, breakfast is included). He promised a wakeup call at 7am in anticipation for our 8am arrival, eliminating my biggest fear of sleeping through Berlin and we settled in for our 10 hour journey.

How did we make out? Would I recommend it? Here is the pro/con list:

PROS

IMG_1696

  • The ability to sleep in the horizontal position (so much better for your back!)
  • The safety of your belongings while sleeping
  • Privacy
  • *No wasted time during the day (This is huge, especially for people who never think they have enough time in one place!)
  • The elimination of one night’s lodging cost
  • Breakfast, coffee and water are included
  • Peace and quiet while sleeping
  • A sink and a mirror (Note: you can upgrade to a deluxe compartment that has a toilet and a shower, but we did not feel like this was worth the extra money.)

CONS

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  • Lack of space with two people and two large suitcases, but this is also to be expected
  • Either showering down the hall or not having the ability to shower in the morning (this is negated if you have the deluxe compartment with an en-suite shower)
  • Often your hotel is not ready when you arrive this early in the morning, which exacerbates the above con (this was negated in our case due to a very accommodating hotel in Berlin, but you have to be prepared for it)
  • The cost for a sleeper compartment is obviously more expensive than a regular seat and is dependent on the country and class you select

As you can see, the pros outweighed the cons in our case, especially due to the fact that our hotel in Berlin allowed us to check-in upon arrival.  It ended up being a great decision to splurge a little for the sleeper compartment for that additional level of comfort and security.  And of course, this backed up my original argument for eliminating wasted travel time during the day and allowed for an extra day in Munich. Positives all around!

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8 Comments Post a comment
  1. Completely agree – time value is HUGE and I always go for the overnight trains/buses too!! Another pro is often the hilarious stories (and pictures like you have here) to recount to people after the trip!

    October 9, 2013
    • Yes, I could not agree more! Time value wins every time. And the stories are pretty good too!

      October 9, 2013
  2. I love the picture of you, Bridget! Not only was the overnight train a little adventure … it was time efficient. I’m recruiting you to do my itineraries!

    October 9, 2013
  3. We agree about savings and leaped at taking an overnight train in China. Well, it was not like our previous European experience. (See our blog for more on that.). Next up was an overnight train in Vietnam. The deluxe version was better than China but still fell far short of our European trip years ago. Tomorrow we’re on a regular overnight train and all we can say is, it’ll be an experience!

    November 3, 2013
    • Glad to hear that you agree on the overnight trains! It is interesting how different the trains can be from country to country. I’m looking forward to reading your blog about your overnight train in China. Hope the regular overnight train went well!

      November 10, 2013

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