So we’ve come up with some ‘need to know’ hints and tips for travelling for long periods on the Trans-Siberian railway…
1) Bring plenty of baby wipes; they’re super helpful for cleaning anything, not just your bodies! Mugs, cutlery, table-tops…
2) The toilets ‘flush’ straight onto the track and are locked before reaching major stations. Try to manage your pees in between stations as sometimes you can be waiting a long time.
3) Bring enough snacks to last you, you’ll start to crave fresh fruit and vegetables so bringing some tinned items is a good option – Florine brought tinned olives and they were amazing with our prosecco. Just make sure the tins have a ring pull.
4) There is a timetable in the corridor of the train with all the breaks listed, take a photo of it on your phone and you’ll know how long you have at each stop. The train line operates on Moscow time.
5) Bring plenty of drinks; alcoholic and non-alcoholic. The alcoholic ones help you sleep when adjusting to different time zones.
6) Close the door on your cabin when drinking alcohol. If it is in mugs you can open the door whilst drinking but shut it whilst pouring and be discreet with the bottle. Even the Russians abide by this rule.
7) Bring plenty of entertainment, you have a lot of spare time; card games, books, music, audio books, games/films for your iPad.
8) Don’t judge a book by its cover. People on the train might appear dodgy but they’re more than likely perfectly normal – and friendly – people. We found this with the hockey dads. This doesn’t man you should be relaxed about your valuables, take them with you whenever you leave your cabin if nobody else is staying in there.
9) Don’t judge the train on initial appearances – they’re so cosy! They are not five star carriages, they’re quirky and old but they are very clean. Your carriage attendant hoovers, mops and wipes all the cabins and the corridors every single day.
10) Bring pain killers or muscle relaxants. If you’re on the train for more than one night, your back will ache.
11) There can be a range of fragrances throughout your journey. Bringing febreeze or an air freshener for your cabin could come in handy. I wish I’d brought one.
12) It is not permitted to smoke on the train. People still do anyway, usually in between the carriages.
13) If you wake up the banging underneath the train when you’re stationary at a stop (in winter) it’s because they’re literally smashing the icicles off the various water outlets underneath the train. Including the toilet. We call those ones pissicles.
14) It is so hot, everywhere on the train. Especially at night. So, so hot. The doorways in between carriages is the only cold place as you cannot open the windows.