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Passengers sat on public transport

What kind of passenger are you?

By | Feature, Rail, Road, Transport | No Comments

Travelling can be a stressful experience – doubly so when you’re sharing your transport with multiple strangers. Over time, cultures develop their own form of travel etiquette. Sadly, not everyone seems to have got the memo, and a rogue passenger can make a stressful journey that much more trying. So we’ve come up with a comprehensive list of the different kinds of passenger you’ll encounter, and the best ways to deal with them. Of course, if we’ve missed any, feel free to let us know in the comments!

The spreader

Otherwise known as ‘man-spreading’, the passenger will – either deliberately or not – put as much distance between their knees as possible, thus crowding in whichever unlucky soul happens to be sat next to them. It’s not just men that are guilty of over-spreading their boundaries, but it does seem to be a 

When you’re packed into a seat on busy public transport, any incursion on your limited space can feel like a personal attack but remember, often people just don’t realise they’re taking up more space than they’re entitled to. Next time you witness someone extending a limb beyond their own boundaries, try asking them to give you a little space. You’d be surprised how many people respond with courtesy when asked nicely, and it’s a far better option than getting into a passive-aggressive battle for that little bit extra legroom.

Manspreading passenger on public transport

The ‘occasional bather’

One of the greatest things about public transport is the diverse variety of people you meet. While this brings endless opportunity to meet fascinating individuals, it also runs the risk of coming into contact with people with a less than satisfactory approach to personal hygiene.

If you’re unlucky enough to be sat next to one of these people, you’ll likely spend your journey practising the art of breathing only through your mouth, praying they’ll disembark before your lungs collapse and you’re forced to inhale their noisome scent.

Oftentimes, it’s not the passenger themselves but the food they’ve decided to consume in-transit that causes a problem. While most people understand it’s bad etiquette to stuff your face in a confined shared space, it seems some just can’t help themselves.

There’s not much you can do about malodorous co-commuters but, if you’re really desperate, consider bringing a nasal inhaler with you. It won’t totally combat the foul-smelling co-passenger, but it can go some way to offsetting the unpleasant feeling of being sat next to a human dumpster.

Crowded bus at sunset silhouettes

Photo by Ashley Gerlach on Unsplash

The sharer

Thanks to the proliferation of the smartphone, people can conduct conversations in public without ever making a sound. Most journeys today consist of people staring at their tiny screen, utterly absorbed in their personal bubble.

But there are those who don’t want to stay in their own bubble – in fact, they feel like their personal lives are so interesting, everyone else in the surrounding area should share in it. Even when their conversation is about not much of anything, these people are determined to let everyone in on the details.

The only way to deal with these people is to fight fire with fire. Whip out your phone, pretend to make a call and proceed to complain about the blabbering loudmouth you’ve been forced to share space with. They might take the hint and end the call but beware – talk too loudly and you run the risk of becoming the very thing you detest.

Passengers on their smartphones

The seat hoarder

You know the type. They’re usually accompanied by twenty bags of shopping or the entire contents of their home in various containers. But it doesn’t matter if they had one bag or twenty, they would still believe that the volume of their positions entitled them to additional seating.

The seat hoarder will typically have a permanent scowl attached to their face, eyes glued to their phone to avoid catching the disapproving gaze of their fellow passengers.

It’s difficult to say how best to deal with seat-hoarders. The worst offenders are so wrapped up in their entitlement, any effort to procure your own space would probably be futile. Instead, try to sit as close as possible to them and, if you have a pen and paper handy, slip a note into their shopping bags. The note doesn’t have to be mean or threatening, but perhaps a gentle reminder that they’re not the only one in need of a seat on transport. You never know, perhaps all they need is a nudge in the right direction.

Passenger hoarding seats on public transport with bags

The human boombox

So, you’re sat there, just enjoying your journey. Perhaps you’re watching a film, or browsing the internet quietly minding your own business. Then you hear them. Somewhere, the sound of crashing percussion, violent screaming, pounding bass, or a combination of all three, rattles around the carriage, and it’s coming closer.

When they sit down, you see it is not actually some slack-jawed oaf playing their music through the speaker on their phone (although these people deserve to be dragged behind the bus). Instead, it’s someone playing music through earphones at what must sound to them like an explosion in a fireworks factory. Still, it’s a remarkable testament to the sheer durability of the human eardrum.

Dealing with a human boombox can be tricky. For one, they’ll be completely oblivious to any audible attempt to engage with them. Instead, try signing to them to remove their earphones. When they do, mouth words to convince them they’ve given themselves permanent hearing damage.

Man optimising journey looking down aisle of plane

Of course, the passengers detailed here are exceptions to the norm; most people just want to ride their transport without upsetting their fellow passengers. But there are endless varieties of twerps dedicated to upsetting your journey; so who have we missed? Let us know in the comments below.

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Exploring a country by rail

5 reasons to explore a new country by rail

By | Feature, Holiday, Rail, Travel | One Comment

As short haul flights get cheaper and countries become more urbanised, you could be forgiven for thinking that the once great train journey is a relic of a bygone era. With airlines working to cram more people on flights and road trips becoming more motorway-centric, we’re becoming increasingly detached from the idea of travel as an adventure.

But while some countries have seemingly outgrown their rail network, there are still plenty of nations that rely on trains as their central transport system, and with good reason. Not only are trains usually cheaper and easier to access than most flights, they’re more energy efficient too. If you’re planning to explore a new country but want to keep your feet firmly on the ground, travelling by train could re-ignite your wanderlust and give you a unique perspective on this underrated transport.

1. See a country from ground level

Most tourists, when visiting a country with a large land mass like the United States, will opt to jump between locations by flying – but this isn’t necessarily the best way to see a new country. Watching all the different sights of new country zip past your window allows you to study the landscape in a way that’s impossible with flying, and is infinitely more comfortable than driving yourself. Riding by train allows you to enjoy your surroundings without the worry of reaching locations on time or getting lost, meaning you can focus on getting to know a country from the ground up.
Top choice: Riding the Trans-Siberian railway probably features on the bucket list of every dedicated traveller, and with good reason. The longest rail line in the world, it stretches almost 10,000 km across several countries and takes in a diverse range of stunning landscapes. Without a doubt the most renowned railway journey, the TSR is still growing and offers a memorable trip where the journey is just as important as the destination.

View of countryside on train journey

2. Cover travel and accommodation in one

Although now a rare sight in western countries, sleeper trains are still a popular mode of transport around the world. For the discerning traveller, sleeper trains also come with some real advantages over other means of travel. With stop-offs in individual towns, these long-distance locomotives offer a unique opportunity to pull into town and explore from the get-go. 

On top of this, with your sleeper travelling between destinations at night, you can settle down at sunset and wake up in a new city without the rigmarole of driving/flying/trekking. There aren’t many other kinds of travel that can act as both hotel and transport.

Top choice: Although there’s any number of great sleeper train trips around the world, the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express wins out thanks to it’s timeless, traditional feel, not to mention the stunning alpine landscapes. Setting off from London, the lovingly restored 1920s style train takes you through Paris and the Swiss Alps before making its stop in Venice. For those who enjoy getting there in style, this is your ideal journey.

Luxury Orient Express train accommodation for rail holiday

3. Get off the beaten track

For the seasoned traveller, one of the biggest attractions to using trains lies in discovering the unusual, the exotic and most tantalising of all, the unexplored. Of course, the accessibility of these hidden wonders depends on the history of a country’s rail infrastructure, but most nation’s rail network will cover areas you had never considered visiting.

Countries originally built their railroads around their industrial requirements – bringing materials, machinery and workers to plantations and factories while ferrying products back to the major cities and shipping hubs. Many of these industrial towns still exist and can provide a fascinating insight into the real spirit of a country.

Top choice:  Despite its small size, Britain boasts some of the finest hidden rail routes in the world, and none is more rewarding to the inquisitive traveller than the Glasgow to Mallaig line. Twisting up the west coast of the Scottish highlands with lochs, waterfalls, ruined castles, the base of Ben Nevis (Britain’s highest mountain) and a historic viaduct best known for its appearances in the Harry Potter films, this is the only way to see the Highlands.

Train on viaduct explore Scotland on a train holiday

4. Travel for less

For those travelling on a budget, particularly younger travellers looking to explore on a shoestring, using rail networks can free up the budget for other activities. With low fares, you can cover a huge expanse at little cost. In fact, many rail companies in European countries offer tickets that allow you to jump on and off trains at no extra cost. This gives you the freedom to adapt your travel plans without incurring additional charges, or having to change your tickets altogether. As if that wasn’t enough, because services are generally more flexible on times than flying, you don’t have to plan your day around your train.

Top choice:  For a truly authentic taste of India, nothing comes close to taking one of the many long-distance train journeys across the country’s diverse landscape. For sheer variety in the landscape, you could do worse than the Nizamuddin Duronto Express, a 20-hour expedition from Pune to Delhi. Taking in everything from desolate deserts to breathtaking mountains, scenic rivers to bustling cities, the NDE gives you every reason for visiting India in one adventure, and at just under £30, it won’t break the travel bank either.

Train passing by sea during a rail holiday in Europe

5. Jump between cities at will

Train stations, unlike airports, tend to be built in close reach of a city. This means easy access for travellers arriving by rail, with no arduous check-in process or invasive searches on the way. Arriving in the heart of a city makes for easier exploration and gives you a central point around which to orient yourself.

Uncomfortable with flying? Jumping between destinations on the rails offers a calmer and more meditative approach. Gone are the intrusive searches, the endless lines at the check-in desk and those pesky limits on liquids. Best of all, there’s rarely a luggage allowance and you can arrive two minutes prior to a train leaving the station and jump onboard without complication.

Top choice: For those with a taste for new experiences, few places on earth can offer such a wide array of different cultures within such easy reach of each other as eastern Europe. The close proximity of capitals within this area of the continent allows you to jump not just between cities but also countries at will. With Vienna, Bratislava, Prague, Ljubljana and Budapest all within a few hours train journey of each other, you can take in the diverse beauty of several countries – in the same day – without ever boarding a flight.

Multiple train platforms in city centre for rail holiday

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