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What to take on the Trans-Siberian Rail trip…
What to take on the Trans-Siberian Rail trip…

Getting ready for a holiday is not an easy feat! Planning and packing takes time regardless of the duration of the holiday and for some miraculous reason, we always end up with the same size bag for a weekend trip to London and a one week holiday overseas… Imagine getting ready for a Trans-Siberian Rail adventure! But, actually, it’s not that bad! We’ve come up with a handy guide on what to take on you Trans-Siberian Holiday…

Luggage

The wrong luggage can make or break your holiday. A wheeled suitcase is great for a trip to Moscow, but would not do well on a trekking holiday! Travelling by train does not necessarily mean to get rid of the roller suitcase though; if you really prefer to travel with one, chose a smaller one…train corridors are narrow and you will need to do some lifting (unless you travel with a happy-to-help travel companion who will do it for you). Trans-Siberian Holiday however is more of an adventure though and a 40L backpack (with an obligatory sister rucksack carried at the front) seems to work best here…But, what’s amazing about the ever-changing world of travel, is that there’s always an innovative compromise! If you are looking for a hybrid luggage that would satisfy your wild side and (sorry) the aging part of you, try the amazingly convenient rolling backpack. Your body will come to appreciate lightening the load from time to time.

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You may also invest in a luggage lock, just for extra peace of mind. And if you really worry about safety, you can get a luggage security cable as well.

Train Uniform

Even if you chose to stop over during your Trans-Siberian trip, chances are you may spend 4 nights in a row on the train…the length of the trip from Moscow to Irkutsk in Siberia. A wise thing to do is to pack a light and comfortable clothing you can take a nap in, but not so messy to attract gasps in the dining car. Whatever the season, Russian train carriages tend to be quite warm. Loose cotton or linen trousers and a T-shirt as well as a light hoodie are perfect.

As part of your train uniform, we suggest to have a small backpack or a messenger bag to keep all those things you will need during your trip: camera, wash bag, travel vouchers, tickets, passport copies (ideally in a zipped folder to avoid any disaster during an accidental shampoo bottle explosion!) Maybe a picture of your family (and your pet 😊) …it comes in handy to start a conversation!

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Clothing

Stepping off the train to the platform can be a bit of a shock; depending on the time of year, the weather outside can vary from -30C to +30C. If you are travelling in winter, make sure to get a few layers of comfortable clothing, a fleece, leggings/trousers combo or padded trousers. You also ideally need one really warm jacket. And gloves! It is worth investing in ski gloves and separate glove liners for all avid photographers looking to get the best long exposure of the Lake Baikal covered in ice. Don’t forget a hat either 😉

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In summer, it’s good to get some layers as well, starting with light t-shirt. Better to avoid any clothing with overtly strong messages printed on them - they might be misunderstood in countries where English is not the first language.


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Thick socks are a good idea as evening outside the train can get chilly. And for those stopping at the Lake Baikal, the insect repellent is absolutely essential; it is fascinating to see the endemic creature from the Baikal region but a close encounter with the local mosquitos is not for the faint hearted.   


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When it comes to footwear, were you thinking of packing your fresh new hiking boots that you bought for the trip just yesterday? Please don’t ! The best choice is comfortable, broken-in hiking boots in winter and trail shoe with Gore-tex in Summer. On the train, do as the locals do and simply wear slippers or flip-flops. We can guarantee that the Train Dress code is always entirely casual and you will not need any formal evening attire.

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Food and Drink

If you just got on the train in Moscow and realised you packed a Greek yoghurt, cheese and a chocolate milkshake…make sure to eat it all by the time you reach Yaroslavl. With nowhere on the train to refrigerate the food, we suggest to stock on snacks, pots of noodles, cup-a-soup sachets and a good supply of tea and coffee. You’ll be able to prepare anything with the help of the samovar, the source of hot drinkable water, the beating heart of any train! Pack your favourite snacks from Amazon Fresh; if you are a Prime member already, you can try it for free!

Bring your own reusable cap with a fitted lid (a lifesaver when you try to navigate the train corridor back to you berth with a hot cup of tea!) and a spork. A pen knife is a good idea if you try to cut into an apple (or mend a broken luggage zip).


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If you have had enough of instant noodles, try the dining car (but beware! Some trains may not have one!). You can also hop off the train to buy some delicious local food right there on the platform. It is a big part of the Trans-Siberian experience and you would normally see the train becoming almost empty while the passengers are queuing on the platform to get some warm home-made Pirozhki. Many Babushkas living in the cities along the Trans-Siberian rail track prepare fresh food before the train’s arrival. It is a small business for them and even if you are not sure about trying the food (but really, it is delicious!) it is a great way to support them by buying a few things. Before you do though, make sure to check for how long the train is pausing as often it may be just 5 minutes and watching your train leave without you is a big price to pay.

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Gadgets

If you feel like 10hours of staring out the window is enough, these few items should help you survive the long trip.

A book or an e-reader: if you always wanted to read War and Peace, now is the time! However we do suggest to take a phrase book as well and try to master a bit of Russian language that you get to try then and there! If you are fed up reading, try listening! With Amazon Audible choose from 200,000-plus titles, including bestsellers, new releases, sci-fi, romances, mysteries, classics, and more. Try for free!

Headphones: if you are not a fun of Russian pop, do invest in good quality noise cancelling headphones. A godsend when you try to relax.


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A sleep kit (ear plugs and eye shade) is a good idea as well, especially if you travel in the 3rd class open carriage. Pack a torch as well; even if you booked a 1st class train journey and you stay in 5* hotels along the way…you may still want to find the toilet door handle during the night or read your book if the power to the carriage occasionally goes off.


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Wash bag is an absolute must; a small towel, toothbrush, soap and a spare toilet paper.

A small medical kit is essential. Pack all of the usual items, including rehydration and travel sickness treatments. Some drugs freely available in the UK may not be sold in pharmacies in Russia (anything with any codeine in it, for example). If you have any prescription items, put a copy of the prescription inside your kit with a Russian translation ideally (we can help with that).

Power! These days everyone travels with electronic equipment. You need a good multi-country socket adaptor and good quality cables for all your gadgets. A back up rechargeable battery  can save you on many occasions. 1st class compartments usually have a socket, but in 2nd class and lower you’ll be fighting with a fellow traveller over the single charging point in your carriage.

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Even if you are not a professional photographer, you will for sure be bringing a camera. A separate holder for your memory cards is a good idea. If you are planning some great Instagram shots, pack a small tripod and a selfie stick (it can be fun!).

Make Friends!

It is so easy these days to print business cards, you can print some specifically for your trip if you want to keep in touch with any of the new made friends. Also, it’s nice having some postcards and small gifts for the locals; they will for sure appreciate the small gesture, especially if you will also try to say a few words in Russian!

 

For more information about the Trans-Siberian Railway, check out are Frequently Asked Questions page.

Getting ready for a holiday is not an easy feat! Planning and packing takes time regardless of the duration of the holiday and for some miraculous reason, we always end up with the same size bag for a weekend trip to London and a one week holiday overseas… Imagine getting ready for a Trans-Siberian Rail adventure! But, actually, it’s not that bad! We’ve come up with a handy guide on what to take on you Trans-Siberian Holiday…

 

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Contact us by phone or email today with any queries, to book, or for excellent rates and service on add-ons to your trip.