When you’re a non-stop-adventuring, explore-until-you-drop backpacking machine, sitting still for a long train ride can feel like an eternity. Get productive with your train time, however, and you’ll get important things out of the way, leaving you more time for exploring when you get to your destination.
Write it Now, Send it Later
Now’s the time to compose missives home to loved ones eagerly awaiting word from their favorite adventurer. Write up chatty e-mails detailing your shenanigans, save them as drafts or word documents, and stash them for later. Or, do it the old school way and put pen to paper (or postcard) and send them off at the next possible snail mail opportunity.
If, like many backpackers, you’re keeping a blog of your travels, write up a few entries to post next time you get Wi-Fi. That way you won’t get bogged down feeling like you have to stop and create compelling entries every time you get Internet access – just post and go. Blogging will be a lot more fun when you write during time you wouldn’t be spending doing something more exciting.
Take Some Processing Time
Use your travel time to process, document, and absorb all you’ve experienced. For many people, that means pulling out a journal and taking time to write down your thoughts and experiences. You don’t have to write a novel, just put your thoughts to paper in a way that resonates with you. Write a poem. Make a list. Draw a picture. Whatever you do, just do it. It’s not just about documenting your journey (though later you’ll be glad for that too); it’s about spending some time with your thoughts. Seeing the world changes you – but only if you take the time to let your whirlwind adventures sink in and take root. Train rides provide a perfect break for a little reflection.
Dream Up The Next Adventure
Pull out your guidebook and get inspired. Take some time to learn all you can about your next destination so you’re excited to explore when you get off the train. Read up on background information about your next stop- history, culture, mythology, spirituality, famous residents, anything you can find. The more you know about the city you’re about to enter, the fuller your experience there will be.
Finally, since backpacker itineraries are often fairly unplanned, long train rides are a good time to start plotting your course. This doesn’t mean you have to carve anything in stone. But using down time to look down the road at where you might want to go next isn’t a bad idea. It will save you time later, and help you make informed decisions rather than hurried ones when you do finalize. Plus, it saves you from getting stuck. You know that guy who’s been in the hostel for two weeks, a month, a year? While some of those guys (and gals) are there on purpose, some just got stuck – chances are they didn’t take time to look into what exciting things there might be to move on to.
Backpackers tend to have an “I can sleep when I’m dead”- attitude about life, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. With so much to see and so many people to meet, sleep can seem like a waste of valuable memory-making time. Train rides, however, are great opportunity to catch up on much-needed shut-eye. Make sure your (locked) bag is somewhere you’ll wake up if anyone were to approach it, put your headphones in, close your eyes, and have some very sweet dreams. You’ll wake up refreshed and ready to explore.