How to survive in a Russian reserved seat

How to survive in a Russian reserved seat

Due to the pandemic, travel to most foreign destinations has been postponed indefinitely. And now is the time to try to travel around Russia. One of the most budget travel options is reserved seat carriages.

Yes, this is not the most comfortable transport. In this article, we have collected life hacks on how to reduce discomfort in reserved seats. Let’s go!

Selecting a location

How to survive in a Russian reserved seat

Travel in a reserved seat begins with choosing a seat. A reserved seat car is a space that you share with others, and in this roulette you are not always lucky. It is impossible to predict who your travel companion will be – a small child or a polite neighbor. But you can avoid uncomfortable places.

You should not take side shelves and places near the toilet. If the carriage is an old type and the toilets are located at the end of each carriage, it is better to take seats in the middle. This way you will be disturbed less.

Upper shelves are cheaper. It is better to choose them when traveling on a night flight. This way your neighbors won’t sit in your place. If you have a day flight, it is better to take the lower one – you can change the position and use the table when it is convenient for you. When traveling as a couple, it is optimal to book the upper and lower shelves – this way you will have your own space.

If you are a girl and traveling alone, sometimes it’s better  ride in a reserved seat, and not in a compartment, where you may find yourself locked in with unknown fellow travelers. Or, when booking, use the option that allows you to immediately select a seat in the women’s compartment. Men can also consider a men’s compartment so as not to end up in female company.

We recommend taking a reserved seat only for short flights (up to 10 hours). If you fall asleep easily on the train,  It is more convenient to choose a night trip. If you have trouble sleeping, it’s better to spend a day on the trip.

Purchase a ticket

The earlier you buy a ticket, the cheaper it is. When returning a ticket, the rule is the same: the sooner you decide to adjust your plans and return your train ticket, the more money you can get back. 

So, the tickets have been purchased. What to take on the road?


How to survive in a Russian reserved seat

It is better to take simple homemade food in a plastic container, after which you will feel normal. Cutlery, instant coffee, tea, sweets – all this on the train costs several times more. The main thing is not to take more food than you need so that you don’t have to throw it away.

First Aid Kit

In your reserved seat you need to take the entire usual set of medications that you use in life, as well as pills for blood pressure, headaches (your head can hurt from the stuffiness), antidiarrhea and pain relievers. If you have trouble sleeping on the road, you can take calming herbal teas.


In addition to the standard hygiene kit, be sure to take not only dry, but also wet wipes, sanitizers, toilet paper, a medical mask, gloves, and perfume. There is often no toilet paper in the carriages; conductors are reluctant to distribute it. And the sanitary conditions leave much to be desired. Wet wipes will save you from dust, a sanitizer and a mask will protect you from infections, and regular napkins will be needed during meals.

Sometimes the carriages smell unpleasant. To save yourself from this, you can slightly perfume your collar, medical mask or the edge of the hood. And don’t forget to get out for air at stops.

If the carriage is old, there is no dry toilet and there are long sanitary zones, you can go to the next carriage and look for a dry closet there.


How to survive in a Russian reserved seat

The longer the road, the more entertainment there should be: books, films, games on phones, and so on. Be sure to bring well-functioning headphones to avoid noise distractions. If you’re not traveling alone, take games for two with you.


The most difficult thing in reserved seat carriages is sleep. The trains start and stop abruptly, people talk around them, and the track workers knock on the wheels. Therefore, earplugs are a must! You can buy them at any pharmacy. If you have never used earplugs and are afraid that they will not suit you, it is better to test them in advance. Also don’t forget your sleep mask.

For the train you need to take slippers and home clothes that you don’t mind. If you are traveling in cold weather, take light, comfortable clothes for the day and something warm to sleep comfortably at night. In winter, the reserved seats are very hot, but the carriage cools down overnight.  

Fellow travelers and safety

How to survive in a Russian reserved seat

If you are not ready to communicate with strangers, try to immediately politely and firmly set boundaries and avoid conversations. A dialogue started out of politeness can be difficult to interrupt, since there is nowhere to escape from the carriage. If you are not ready for dating, do not talk about yourself. Avoid conflicts: quarreling with fellow travelers at the beginning of the journey can ruin the entire trip.

If someone disturbs your sleep or behaves aggressively, feel free to contact the head of the train – the conductor knows where he is. Don’t try to solve the problem yourself. In special situations, the conductor and the head of the train decide to unload the aggressive passenger at the nearest station. We do not recommend  enter into conflict, otherwise they might drop you off too.

If, upon entering the carriage, you see aggressive passengers and understand that the trip can be dangerous for you, look for a way out – negotiate with the conductor about moving to a compartment for an additional fee. Do not demonstrate your dissatisfaction with your fellow travelers, do not provoke aggression, behave politely. If you feel in danger, go to the train manager. Worst case scenario, cancel the trip.

Keep valuables in a safe place – in a bag under your pillow. If you have a bottom bunk and a closed luggage compartment underneath, you can do so there. Do not show expensive equipment or money. When getting off at stations, take everything valuable with you. It is convenient to take a belt bag on the train. And when you want to charge your gadget, always ask those around you if there is a queue.


How to survive in a Russian reserved seat

Conductors in reserved seat carriages are little gods. They control the titanium with boiling water, the temperature in the carriage, open the windows and lock the toilets. Therefore, try to be polite with them. The conductors may persistently offer to buy a lottery ticket or some product. Try to treat them with understanding – they have a difficult job for little money. If you manage to maintain good relations with the conductors, they can be useful to you – they will open the toilet if necessary, let you change clothes in your compartment, and so on.


Transport police officers are patrolling the train. They can be either in uniform or in civilian clothes. The police have the right to check your documents and inspect your belongings. Always politely ask to see identification, remember the employee’s title and full name. If the police insist on a search, ask for witnesses (usually a conductor) and a search report. Communicate politely, but confidently and positively. If you are searched, they will most likely force you to open all your luggage. Don’t argue with the police, that’s their job.

What not to do in a reserved seat

How to survive in a Russian reserved seat

In order not to ruin the lives of other passengers and yourself, you should not do the following things:

  • talk on the phone for a long time and loudly;
  • intrusive conversations with fellow travelers;
  • disturb the sleep of other passengers, watch movies and listen to music without headphones;
  • occupy the toilet for a long time, especially in the morning; 
  • do not give up the bottom shelf and table for eating to your neighbors above;
  • do not take care of personal hygiene.

A reserved seat is not necessarily terrible!

A reserved seat is not the most comfortable transport, but it has advantages: low cost, opportunity to make interesting acquaintances. And of course, these are impressions that will stay with you for life!

Text author: Konstantin Potapov

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