Traveling on Trains: The Sleeper Coach

Happy spring, everyone! Have you ever traveled by train and slept in a sleeper coach? It is a real adventure. At least it was for us.

We planned a road trip to visit family who all live in the eastern part of the United States. As you know, gas prices are incredible here in the States. So my husband tried to think how we could cut down on some of the driving.

“I know,” he said one evening while planning the trip. “We’ll connect with the auto train in Virginia. This way we don’t need to pay for a hotel. It’s a sleeper train, Vic. By next morning, we’ll be in Florida.”

“Sleeper train? You know I can’t sleep sitting up,” I told him.

“We’ll reserve a cabin with bunks.”

Problem solved. For him. I worried about my ability to sleep on a “bunk.” Are there speed bumps on train tracks? When the whistle blows, would I jump up and hit my head on the ceiling of the cabin? Would there be a potty in the cabin for late night tinkles?

The first thing we didn’t realize was that “masks must be worn” any time you left your cabin—even when you left to use the bathroom.

Oh and that cabin? It was more “cubbyhole” than “cabin.

At least we had a window!

Because of Covid, we weren’t permitted to walk about the train or eat in the dining car. We had to stay in the itsy-bitsy, teeny-weeny cabin, with our suitcase, coats, computer bag, and snacks.

And we thought our camper was tiny!

A little pull-down table, like they use in airplanes, was our dinner table. The porter took our orders and brought the dinner. The two small train seats were our chairs. Dinner was delicious, if not too hot. We even enjoyed wine and dessert!

The window helped me not feel too closed in. We watched as the train passed streams and lakes. I tried to discern when the trees started to bud in our journey south.

Dusk finally fell. And still, I wondered where these “bunks” that we were to sleep on were.

When the porter came to set up the bunks, we needed to stand out in the skinny hallway, with our masks on, so he could fit inside our cabin to lay out the bunks.

I stared at the slim bunk hinged maybe 18 inches from the ceiling of the cabin.

“How do you get up there,” I asked the porter.

“Oh, you just climb up the steps,” he said.

“Steps, what steps?” I asked.

He shoved our suitcase and coats onto the bottom bunk. “Right here.”

Great, I thought. So where do I put the suitcase and coats?

Since I was smaller, I took the slim bunk attached to the ceiling.

As the night wore on, I tossed and turned on my little shelf of marble. The pillow was hard. The shelf was hard. I had no window to look for stars. And those late-night tinkles? I needed to climb down from my perch, feel around for my bathrobe and slippers and ever-present mask, for we weren’t permitted to leave the cabin without them, and figure out how to unlatch the cabin door. All in total darkness.

Try as I might not to wake my husband, he always woke up. True, I needed to tuck myself into his bunk to put on my robe and slippers and invariably sat on one of his legs. At least he could unlatch the cabin door for me without getting out of the bunk.

By dawn, I was sharing his bunk, lying on my side to fit against the window, just so I could watch the sun come up.

When the porter came to fold up the bunks, I was dressed and sitting hunched over inside the bottom bunk.

We had lots of delicious food on the train, but Covid kinda cramped our train experienced.

Once we were free of our tiny cubbyhole and in the train station, we awaited our car to be unloaded from the train. Yep! Our car was one of the last to be unloaded. Figures!

Stay tuned for more adventures on this road trip!

8 thoughts on “Traveling on Trains: The Sleeper Coach”

  1. It was definitely an adventure on the train, Natalie. Unfortunately, I had a little trouble relaxing the first few days of our vacation. Eventually, I did gain some rest. Thanks for asking.

    And thank you so much for visiting Camping with Five Kids, Natalie. It’s truly appreciated. Happy Sunday!

    • Yes, maybe next time we can leave the tiny room. That certainly would have helped. The tiny bunk was hard as a rock and narrow as a book shelf, Alex.

      Thanks so much for your comment here at Camping with Five Kids. It’s truly appreciated. All best to you, sir!

    • Absolutely, Bill! It was much less stressful without all that driving.

      Thank you so much for visiting Camping with Five Kids. Have a beautiful week! All best to you!

  2. I sounds like your trip was equal amount fun and not fun. I don’t know if Joe could take being so closed in like that. I’d like to try though. Thank you for this.

    • I think you’re right, Dawn. Yes, riding in a sleeper train is definitely close company. But it got us down to Florida without driving too much.

      Thank you so much for visiting Camping with Five Kids. Your comment is truly appreciated. Have a beautiful week!


Leave a Comment