Once you train, you’ll never go plane.
Sleeper trains aren’t new, they’ve been a long-haul means of getting around for centuries, though not necessarily number one in the modern ages. Ever since commercial airlines flew onto the scene, they’ve led in cross-nation-transportation preference. But that’s changing. Plush new sleeper trains are expanding their network, and simultaneously, in comfort and efficiency. Europe is particularly seeing a surge in travelers by sleeper, and it makes sense in a compact continent packed with tourist draws extensively linked by track. Vogue lies flat aboard the Caledonian Sleeper to see what the fuss is all about.
Sleeper trains are inclusive
Most of us only think of two ends of the spectrum when we think of sleeper trains. At one end, Japan’s opulent suites on Seven Stars Kyushu, and at the other, bargain bunk bed sleepers on Thailand’s local SRT. There isn’t a ton in between. European sleeper trains, however, are more inclusive to the working and middle masses. Travelers who would happily pay for air travel, but choose rail for reasons beyond just price comparison. The classes of service mean that a single sleeper in Europe appeals across a wider budget spectrum.
Overall, they are almost always more cost-effective
Even in ‘first class’ travelers make savings. The Caledonian Double En Suite is like a mini hotel room with Glencraft mattresses that have been used by four generations of the British Royal family, not to mention a host of five-star hotels. Breakfast and lounge access are included, and when you factor in the price of travel itself, this all works out more cost-effectively than staying two nights in an equivalent hotel with a stand-alone journey. Remember, that’s just on top-tier boarding. Those willing to spend the night on a seated coach make even bigger savings.
Rail travel is more eco-friendly than air
We’ve always known the damaging effect of jumbo jets on the environment, but short-haul flights are especially harmful to our fragile planet. That’s because the greenhouse gases emitted are significantly higher per kilometer. Trains emit between 65 to 80 percent less carbon than planes, making them a much more eco-friendly alternative for country hopping. In addition, we’re going straight from city to city so there’s no rideshare to an airport, and no airport altogether. Train stations need a lot less space.
You’ll save a ton of time
Time is precious, so why waste it waiting hours airside, waiting for checked baggage, or worse, losing said baggage? With a sleeper train guests board with their bags (ours allowed three items of personal luggage free of charge) which can be kept under each bed or in lockers. And there’s no need to pour all your potions into containers under 100ml, full-sized liquids are permitted.
The location is just right
Generally, sleeper trains arrive and depart right in town, where most tourists actually want to be, with no lengthy middle-of-nowhere airport transfers on either end. Our Caledonian Sleeper, for example, departed from London Euston and pulled us into Inverness Station, minutes from attractions, shopping, dining, and entertainment. This means travelers can get down to exploring right after disembarkment.
The cabins are clever and comfy
On any moving accommodation, space is limited, but sleeper trains make the most of every inch. The club twin room featured wall-to-wall bunk beds with Glencraft mattresses for optimum comfort, and within them, there are multiple charging points, handy slip-in compartments, and bedside tech at the touch of a button. The en-suite bathroom has a toilet that neatly folds over to become a full-sized, standing shower. This is a lot more comfortable than most overnight flights.
The pink noise soothes your snooze
You’d think that clickily-clack would be a distraction, but many travelers find that repetitive sounds of trains actually aid sleep. Pink noise is a random assortment of audibles that blur out other random sounds. You’ll be surprised at how well you’ll actually snooze on the move. Unlike on a flight, passengers can also follow normal bedtime routines before shut-eye, whether it’s just brushing their teeth in a private space or a full shower and pampering. This signals the body to prepare for a REM cycle.
Your country count will swell
Oodles of time saved, stops in the heart of each city, not to mention money saved. That country count will skyrocket when you city-hop on a sleeper. Whilst on this particular journey we ticked off two, you can easily check off a country per day in compact Europe. Borders are more spread out in Asia, but big countries like China offer similar sleeper trains to traverse its bounty of famed cities.
Finally, countryside views always have more to offer than clouds
There’s a reason airplanes have tunnels of in-seat entertainment: the skies are dull. You’ll never stare out your window for ten hours, but on a sleeper, the treats are endless, meaning less idle screen time. And when screen time is desired it can be productive. Wi-Fi on land is a lot better than in the sky. Take it from us: this article was written on it.