Author Topic: Female Solo Travel - Taking Night Trains (Europe)  (Read 2166 times)

cazio

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Female Solo Travel - Taking Night Trains (Europe)
« on: September 25, 2019, 07:43:05 PM »
I'm traveling to Europe in a few weeks and the last 6 days of my three-week journey will be solo. Currently I have 3 night trains planned (in a row) and was feeling just fine about it until my roommate who studied abroad in Prague said not to, and said she would rather pay for a flight + hotel than take a night train. That's not going to be possible (well, I refuse to pay for that, I should say).

I feel like this is one of those things that people are scared of for no reason, so I wanted to see if anyone has had any experiences on night trains. Currently I plan to stay in 4-bed compartments, requesting women-only. I plan to sleep with a money belt on, secure my belongings etc (if you have any cool tips, I'd love to hear them).

My worst case scenario would be taking the hit and requesting a double or single compartment, but that would add almost $450 to my travel costs and send me way over my planned budget. But I will if I'm convinced to (and be very reluctant the whole time haha).

Also, I have yet to book my tickets. Is that something I should do as early as possible or are there advantages to waiting?

Thanks!

mozar

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Re: Female Solo Travel - Taking Night Trains (Europe)
« Reply #1 on: September 25, 2019, 08:22:13 PM »
It seems no different than staying in a hostel. I once took a night bus from Dublin to London and it was fine. What is your friend worried about happening? The vast majority of crime towards women is caused by men they know. I personally wouldn't want to sleep on a train because it would be uncomfortable. Use common sense and tell someone where you are.

cazio

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Re: Female Solo Travel - Taking Night Trains (Europe)
« Reply #2 on: September 25, 2019, 08:41:09 PM »
That's my thinking exactly. I've taken night buses across the US before but never alone, and I've always had good experiences at hostels. She seemed worried about sleeping near strangers, I imagine due to theft/sexual assault fears. But the compartments all have locks and I plan to secure my luggage/backpack and not be stupid so I don't see that being a big issue, and I don't think chances are any higher that a predator is going to attack me on a night train than they are breaking into my house and attacking me here in a big city.

Plus, seeing as I'm going off-season I'm not so sure the trains will be packed to begin with, but I don't really know if that's true.

former player

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Re: Female Solo Travel - Taking Night Trains (Europe)
« Reply #3 on: September 26, 2019, 03:35:58 AM »
A long time ago I spent two separate months interrailing around Europe, and slept on trains most nights, usually not even getting a berth.  It was fine, you will be fine: there will be people around to talk to and make friends with and the train companies want their customers to be and feel safe.

Crossing the Balkans shortly before war broke out was the only potentially interesting moment: the guard herded all travellers into 2 carriages on a long train for safety overnight: he said there was a risk of bandits.  It's a lot more peaceful now, although I would probably say that parts of the Balkans and the further reaches of eastern Europe might be the biggest risks: in central and western Europe you should be safe from anything other than pickpockets.

Have fun!

Anette

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Re: Female Solo Travel - Taking Night Trains (Europe)
« Reply #4 on: September 26, 2019, 03:43:40 AM »
👍 to the above mentioned

And to the cost: In France and in Germany there is definitely no advantage in booking late. The closer to the date the more expensive it gets and at least in Germany there is no cheap last minute rate ( the opposite is the case). That may be the same in other European countries.
Relax and have fun.

elliha

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Re: Female Solo Travel - Taking Night Trains (Europe)
« Reply #5 on: September 26, 2019, 04:04:13 AM »
In woman only compartments I would not even consider being afraid. I would find it a bit scary to sleep in a mixed compartment without a friend but I think I might do that too. I would keep money and important documents close to me but other than that not be too scared about being robbed. I have slept in mixed rooms in hostels both when I traveled alone and with a friend/my husband. I have never had any incident happen to me even in a very shady hostel where some of the guests used drugs (yeah, this place I would not have picked today but I was young and didn't have too much money and traveled with two friends so we saw some safety in numbers).

Gizm0

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Re: Female Solo Travel - Taking Night Trains (Europe)
« Reply #6 on: September 26, 2019, 05:09:14 AM »
Europe is not a country, so where are you going? But anyway, in my opinion it's safe enough anywhere in Europe. I've seen Women solo travelling in Central America and even they where fine. So no reason to worry...

Kris

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Re: Female Solo Travel - Taking Night Trains (Europe)
« Reply #7 on: September 26, 2019, 06:10:55 AM »
Youíll be fine. I was going to suggest sleeping with your money/passport belt on you, but youíve got that covered. Have a great trip!

Phillip

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Re: Female Solo Travel - Taking Night Trains (Europe)
« Reply #8 on: September 26, 2019, 06:27:43 AM »
"Also, I have yet to book my tickets. Is that something I should do as early as possible or are there advantages to waiting?"

For the bus or for the flight?

Either way, it's usually a bit of a toss-up. I've gotten REALLY good at finding cheap flights (like better than "Scott's Cheap Flights," good, which has become a little mainstream), and I've taken cheap buses all across Europe.

Do you have your tickets for the flight? If it's only a few weeks away, it's pretty close. You probably want to book at least three weeks in advance, unless you get really lucky. For the bus, it shouldn't change THAT much. Are you taking FlixBus?

Cranky

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Re: Female Solo Travel - Taking Night Trains (Europe)
« Reply #9 on: September 26, 2019, 07:12:12 AM »
I've taken night trains in the US by myself, and haven't really worried about it. For one thing, I don't sleep so deeply on a train that I wouldn't notice a problem.

PMG

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Re: Female Solo Travel - Taking Night Trains (Europe)
« Reply #10 on: September 26, 2019, 08:13:52 AM »
I took the night train alone from Paris to Milan in 2016.  Shared a compartment with 3 guys from Spain and a father and son from Argentina. The father spoke a little English and his presence with the preteen son really made me feel more comfortable. I was most uncomfortable because the conductor held everyone's passports over night and I did not expect that and worried that I wouldn't get it back. 

I've also taken night trains in several Eastern European countries, but that was with my spouse. 

In all those cases there were always people moving around. 

I actually find that I prefer upright seats to bunks.  I slept more, but still had the freedom to do something besides sleep. And in some way that upright seats feel safer as the cars are open and other people are always around.

Perhaps not helpful at all, but most people on that train are just trying to get from Point A to Point B.  Make wise choices, keep your valuables secure, stay alert, but don't worry too much.

cazio

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Re: Female Solo Travel - Taking Night Trains (Europe)
« Reply #11 on: September 26, 2019, 09:34:39 AM »
Thank you everyone! Glad to hear my thinking was in the right place.

@Phillip - I do have my flights booked! I realize that may have sounded confusing. I booked only yesterday, but I still only spent about $900 round trip. Could have been cheaper but I would have had to do self-transfers on my outbound flight and decided it wouldn't be worth the $200 in savings if I was delayed and missed my connection, especially going international. Though I would love to hear any tips on getting cheap international flights in the future - I used Skyscanner this time around. Just taking trains this time, not buses! I did look into it but the travel time was significantly longer so it wasn't worth the price difference for me.


Thanks @former player @Cranky and @Kris ! Makes me feel much better about the whole thing.

@Annette for your insight & reassurance! I think I'll go ahead and book today, finally got ahold of my friend in Italy and there's going to be one date switchup that will affect one train, but even if all goes to shit I'm fully confident I can get where I need to be. in time to get home, which is the important part!

@elliha Thank you! I was feeling the same way. I've slept in co-ed hostels in the US before with no issues and had a great time. I also work in the film industry so if for some reason I didn't get any sleep at all on any of the night trains and just "rested my eyes" I know I can function for at least two days before I start really losing it! :)

@Gizm0 I figured as much! I'm doing night trains rom Venice to Salzburg, Salzburg to Milan, then Milan to Paris!

Perhaps not helpful at all, but most people on that train are just trying to get from Point A to Point B.  Make wise choices, keep your valuables secure, stay alert, but don't worry too much.

That's actually very helpful! And that was my thought: other people are just traveling too! Thank you for sharing your experience!

sparkytheop

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Re: Female Solo Travel - Taking Night Trains (Europe)
« Reply #12 on: September 26, 2019, 02:42:51 PM »
Take them without fear!

I had my son with me when we did night trains, but still not an issue (he was 17).

We did a mixed compartment on our first night-train trip and shared it with two young women (looked like they were traveling together, but if they spoke English, they didn't let on).  That one was Rodez to Paris.

We also did "somewhere" (Vienna?  Can't remember) to Krakow, Krakow to Prague, I think Prague to Nuremberg, and Nuremberg to Amsterdam.  The Krakow to Prague train was cheap enough that I splurged to get us each our own single compartment.  The others were two-bed compartments with just the two of us.

Some trains do sleep better than others, but that mostly came down to the timing of the stops and if they were moving cars around.  Don't expect to show up in a new place completely refreshed and rested, but you should be fine to explore until you can check into your next room.

Just this spring, I did an overnight ferry from Stockholm to Turku.  I saved money by doing a female-only shared room (up to 4 women).  The first night I shared the room with a lady in her 70s, headed home to see her family.  She was an absolute delight.  On the way back, I lucked out and scored a room all to myself, so was able to take a shower in the morning and do everything without disturbing anyone.  I know that's not a train, but that's the "completely solo" experience I've had in an overnight transportation vessel.

I hope you have an amazing time!


Phillip

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Re: Female Solo Travel - Taking Night Trains (Europe)
« Reply #13 on: September 26, 2019, 07:02:52 PM »
Thank you everyone! Glad to hear my thinking was in the right place.

@Phillip - I do have my flights booked! I realize that may have sounded confusing. I booked only yesterday, but I still only spent about $900 round trip. Could have been cheaper but I would have had to do self-transfers on my outbound flight and decided it wouldn't be worth the $200 in savings if I was delayed and missed my connection, especially going international. Though I would love to hear any tips on getting cheap international flights in the future - I used Skyscanner this time around. Just taking trains this time, not buses! I did look into it but the travel time was significantly longer so it wasn't worth the price difference for me.

Ahh, okay. I'm here to help if you ever need any tips.

If you get travel insurance through Travelex (World Nomads is HUGELY overrated -- only $750 worth of dental coverage on a $300+ plan...), you'd be covered in case you missed those self-transfers. It should cost like $50 and you'd have emergency medical and evac coverage too, but I get it. I got stuck in Switzerland once with no way to get back home to the US and it was pretty nerve-wracking. Especially because it costs like $12 for a gallon of milk over there LMAO.

Gizm0

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Re: Female Solo Travel - Taking Night Trains (Europe)
« Reply #14 on: September 27, 2019, 02:03:09 AM »
@Gizm0 I figured as much! I'm doing night trains rom Venice to Salzburg, Salzburg to Milan, then Milan to Paris!
Then don't worry anyway, these places are fine. Of course there can always be pickpockets.

By the way: https://www.nationmaster.com/country-info/compare/European-Union/United-States/Crime
« Last Edit: September 27, 2019, 03:01:28 AM by Gizm0 »

Gizm0

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Re: Female Solo Travel - Taking Night Trains (Europe)
« Reply #15 on: September 27, 2019, 02:05:55 AM »
I got stuck in Switzerland once with no way to get back home to the US and it was pretty nerve-wracking. Especially because it costs like $12 for a gallon of milk over there LMAO.
Where did you find that milk?

Moonwaves

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Re: Female Solo Travel - Taking Night Trains (Europe)
« Reply #16 on: September 27, 2019, 02:38:07 AM »
I actually find that I prefer upright seats to bunks. 
Me, too. And there's the added bonus that the smell from anyone with smelly feet who takes their shoes off is less strong when it's drifting throughout a whole carriage than just a small-ish cabin. :)

JoJo

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Re: Female Solo Travel - Taking Night Trains (Europe)
« Reply #17 on: September 27, 2019, 11:20:59 AM »
The main thing I'd be concerned with is having things stolen.  I would sleep by "hugging" my backpack with the zippers towards my body, and a small blanket on top of that.  And passport, money, and cards in a money belt or on your body. 

I have read many stories about people having things stolen in the night on trains in Europe & elsewhere.

ysette9

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Re: Female Solo Travel - Taking Night Trains (Europe)
« Reply #18 on: September 27, 2019, 11:46:34 AM »
I took an extra slow train from the south of france to Paris as an exchange student as a way to save money. I had a reclining seat, not a berth or private room or anything. It didnít even occur to me to be concerned. It was just what you do when you are 18 and broke and want to travel across france for fun. The biggest issue for me was waking up due to it being uncomfortable.

parkerk

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Re: Female Solo Travel - Taking Night Trains (Europe)
« Reply #19 on: September 27, 2019, 03:47:02 PM »
I did exactly this (woman travelling alone in sleeper cars on night trains) in western Europe and the only problem I had was other peoples' snoring.  I had a small sleeping bag with me and I would sleep with my backpack stuffed in the bottom of it.  It's certainly no more dangerous than staying in a hostel.  As well, I had an unlimited rail pass so it was a great way to save on the cost of accommodations for a night.  Enjoy your trip!

Phillip

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Re: Female Solo Travel - Taking Night Trains (Europe)
« Reply #20 on: September 27, 2019, 07:04:37 PM »
I got stuck in Switzerland once with no way to get back home to the US and it was pretty nerve-wracking. Especially because it costs like $12 for a gallon of milk over there LMAO.
Where did you find that milk?

It's hyperbole, of course.

I was staying in Egg, so getting into Zurich cost $11 each way. Luckily I landed during Zuri Fascht, so I got to have a lot of fun without paying for much more than a few Heinekens...

:)

Bee21

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Re: Female Solo Travel - Taking Night Trains (Europe)
« Reply #21 on: September 27, 2019, 09:55:27 PM »
We travelled on the night trains in the past 3 years and we loved it. It saves quite a bit on accomodation and you are not wasting the day travelling or waiting at the airports. I have to mention though, that the conductor warned us in each case to keep the cabin locked and our valuables close. I presume they had a good reason for warning us. Travel light and sleep with your money belt on if you can. Have some food and  a waterbottle. The worst part is the morning, when you have to wait until everybody is up before you can turn the beds into seats. If you are worried about safety, choose the top bunk, if you have a carry on or a small backpack, you can even keep it with you there.

The 6bed cabins are claustrophobic,  the 4 pp are great. I never had the privilege of sleeping in a 2 seater,  so I can't tell you about them.

jpdx

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Re: Female Solo Travel - Taking Night Trains (Europe)
« Reply #22 on: September 29, 2019, 12:49:40 AM »
Funny story: my wife and I traveled around Europe for our honeymoon, and we took one sleeper train. When we booked the tickets over the phone, we were told we couldn't book beds in the same compartment because men and women were required to be segregated. Yet when we arrived in the train, my compartment had three middle-aged women and hers had a family of three. So my wife was essentially a female solo traveler for the night. My cabin mates shared their bottle of wine with me, and yes, everyone felt safe.

chouchouu

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Re: Female Solo Travel - Taking Night Trains (Europe)
« Reply #23 on: September 29, 2019, 04:21:36 AM »
I have taken sleeper trains through SE Asia and Europe including the sleeper from Milan to Paris earlier this year. I have never had issues apart from fellow passengers over packing and cramming our carriage. They're perfectly safe and a delightful way to travel, including with my young kids.

cazio

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Re: Female Solo Travel - Taking Night Trains (Europe)
« Reply #24 on: November 20, 2019, 03:50:28 PM »
Just to update everyone on the adventure in case someone stumbles along this topic in he future: night trains were awesome!

My first night train was less than fun because it was a 6 person cabin and 5 other women were already in there and had taken up all the luggage space. I think they also took my sheets and blankets because there were none. Not a good sleep. Also arrived almost 3 hours late.

Second night train I lucked out with a solo cabin (booked as a triple) and it's SO worth it. Exactly what I needed after some stressful traveling. Did arrive an hour late though (I didn't mind).

My final night train was with 3 older men an da train car full of French tweens. Definitely exciting. The cabin was hot af and things were a bit disorganized but I think the men felt more uncomfortable with me than I was with them! :)

All in all I had an amazing trip, and plan to take night trains again! My only word of caution is not to have anything scheduled very close to your planned arrival time. Obviously it's just my experience, but every night train I took was at least 30 minutes late.

aloevera

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Re: Female Solo Travel - Taking Night Trains (Europe)
« Reply #25 on: November 20, 2019, 04:01:51 PM »
I've taken several in SE Asia. Thailand, mainly. Second class sleepers are mixed and all beds (upper and lower bunks) are open with a passage for walking in between. Other than keeping my valuables near me, no worries. And I met cool people so wasn't alone for long :)

Glad you had a good trip!
« Last Edit: November 20, 2019, 04:06:23 PM by aloevera »