BY SARAH BAXTER
If you have a long way to go, don’t unthinkingly jump on a plane. An overnight train ride is a far more fun, immersive and eco-friendly way to travel – better for you and for the planet.
There’s something romantic about train travel: the slow pace, the gentle rhythm, and the views. This is especially true of sleeper trains, where you can bed down in one country and rise in another.
Train travel is also better for the planet: it releases the least greenhouse gases of all transportation forms. Plus you can watch as cities become suburbs, which become farms, hills or deserts.
From luxe journeys to overcrowded overnighters, you might not get a lot of actual sleep on your sleeper, but you’ll get a dream of a ride on these 5 trains.
Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Nicknamed the Reunification Express after the Vietnam War, this route runs the length of the country, so you can see historic towns, busy suburbs, rice paddies, emerald hills and more.
How: Choose from hard seat (cheapest) or soft, hard berth (six-bed compartment), soft berth (four-bed) or VIP cabin (two beds; book in advance). Can be booked online. Duration: About 35 hours.
Chicago to San Francisco, USA
On its epic 2400-mile (3900km) route, the California Zephyr crosses gorges, deserts, mountains and lots of tunnels and switchbacks. In 1869, these tracks were first to cross the Continental Divide.
How: The Zephyr leaves Chicago at 2pm daily. Book early for the lowest fares and best availability; can be booked almost a year ahead. Duration: The journey to San Francisco takes 52 hours non-stop.
Kapiri Mposhi to Dar es Salaam, Zambia and Tanzania
Sleeper train or rolling safari? The Tazara Railway crosses rivers, gorges and more while passing through Selous Game Reserve, Tanzania. You might spot elephants, rhinos or lions from your window.
How: tickets can’t be bought online; buy them at stations in Dar es Salaam or Kapiri Mposhi or via a local travel agency. Duration: About 44 hours.
Brisbane to Longreach, Australia
The Spirit of the Outback is just over a day-long jaunt that flirts with the coast before the train turns inland to reveal a changing landscape as it heads into the outback.
How: The tickets can be booked online. The train departs Tuesdays at 6.10pm and Saturday at 1.55pm. Duration: About 26 hours.
Rome to Syracuse, Italy
To get from Rome to the Sicilian city of Syracuse, this overnight train boards a boat. Having traced the Calabrian coast, it boards a ferry to cross the Straits of Messina, before continuing.
How: Two sleeper trains leave Rome nightly at around 9.05pm and 11pm. Tickets can be ordered online. Duration: About 12 hours, including 30 minutes at sea.
Get prepping for more train journeys by hitting the link below.