If you’ve been hanging out with me on Rise & Brine, or in person, you’ll also know that I LOVE travel ..and clothes ..and shoes and ..packing and ..capsule wardrobes. So when I had the chance to pack for my trans-siberian railroad adventure, I basically couldn’t stop smiling and packing and re-packing for months. But after living through it, I learned that the trans-siberian railroad is the ultimate exercise in building a versatile fashion capsule wardrobe …because you only wear one outfit the whole time. Here is my short list of what to wear on the trans-siberian railroad.
This list does NOT include what you may need for your stops along the way. Depending where you are getting on and off the train, the time of year, and types of activities you’ll be doing, your packing choices may differ significantly. This list is simply what you should plan to wear while you’re on the trans-siberian train. I was on the train in early-mid April, and so the weather outside was generally in the low-40’s (F). The train cars are somewhat climate controlled (by the car-attendant’s choice), and so these packing lists could work for pretty much any season.
What to wear on the trans-siberian railroad
When it comes to what to wear on the trans-siberian railroad, just know that it is possibly the least fashion-conscious place on earth. 90% of your train wardrobe is based on comfort and convenience. The other 10% is trying to make sure you’re dressed conservatively and simply. You can totally wear jeans and a t-shirt and not stand out, but you’ll probably be uncomfortable trying to sleep in that outfit. You could wear pajamas the whole time, but you’ll definitely stand out as a tourist.
I’ll be totally honest here: You’re going to wear the same clothes for MULTIPLE DAYS AND NIGHTS while on the trans-siberian railroad. You will most likely not be changing your clothes at all — especially if you are in 2nd or 3rd class (meaning you have roommates and no privacy). You also probably do not want to change in the bathroom because the floor is metal, cold, and soaking wet all the time. There is no place to safely/cleanly put your clothes down or hang them while changing in the bathroom. I’m not sure how people miss the sink so badly when washing their hands and get water EVERYWHERE, but wow… just, wow. I tried to spend as little time in the bathroom as possible while on the train.
Since you’ll be wearing these clothes for multiple days on end, you’ll want something you’re comfortable sleeping in, AND something that doesn’t look like you’re wearing your pajamas during the day when you’re hanging out in the train car, making new friends, or walking to the dining car.
When deciding what to wear on the trans-siberian railroad, your outfit will also need to work in warm and cool temperatures – it tends to get chilly at night and into the morning, and will get hotter during the day when the sun is beating down on the train car. You will also want fabrics that ward off smells – no one wants to be the smelly kid on the train with no showers. Wicking and anti-oder fabric, like athletic wear and merino wool work great in this situation.
The lists below are clickable, so you can get more details on each item and where to find it.
FEMALE TRANS-SIBERIAN TRAIN OUTFIT
- Tan/Gray Loose T-shirt Made of Wicking Fabric
- Black Merino-blend Leggings
- Black Lightly-padded Sports Bra (non-racerback straps)
- Black Long Merino-blend cardigan/wrap (no buttons)
- Smartwool Socks
- Crocs Sandals – Because pulling your boots on and off every time you need to walk to the bathroom/dining car is a pain.
MALE TRANS-SIBERIAN TRAIN OUTFIT
- Brown Prana Brion Pants
- Black Uniqlo Airism Tshirt
- Wicking Boxer-briefs
- Green/Brown Quarter-zip Athletic pullover
- Hotel Slippers – Most hotel rooms in Russia and Asia come with disposable slippers, which Donald used as his train slippers
Even though Donald and I got on and off the train twice before we reached Beijing (in Irkutsk and in Ulaanbataar), I still wore this outfit every time we got on the train, and didn’t take it off until we reached the next hostel or hotel. These outfits are hassle free, comfortable and look “normal” (ie: not like pajamas).
We could easily throw on our shoes and a jacket to step off the train during the longer station-stops and not be too cold. The layers made it easy to stay comfortable, and the stretchy wicking fabrics kept us feeling and smelling relatively fresh.
Of course, we also packed our 46L carry-on backpacks with all the essentials for the rest of our RTW trip.
What to pack for the trans-siberian railroad
In addition to knowing what to wear on the trans-siberian railroad you also need to know what to pack to make the ride go smoothly. The train-life presents some unique challenges that you might not have encountered before. You wont have any cell phone service and so probably will not be using your phone as much as usual. You’ll need to entertain yourself with analogue activities, and most of your sustenance will spout from the samovar in your train car (hot water dispenser). This might be as close as you’ll come to feeling like an astronaut, as you barrel through some of the most remote places on the planet.
Here are a few more things you should bring along to make the train ride a little smoother:
- Metal Mug – for making instant food and beverages
- Utensils for eating food
- Deck of Cards – and learn a couple games before you leave.
- Good Books – This is a great time for those classics that you’ve been meaning to read.
- USB Battery Charger (TSA approved) – Not all train cars have a working power outlet.
- Downloaded Podcasts
- Ear buds
- Trans-siberian tour book – this gives an overview of the major stops along the route and has maps so you can follow along, even without cell service or GPS.
- Google Translate App – often your best option for communication
- Cyrillic Keyboard downloaded on your phone – to use with your new friends + Google Translate
- Food – Instant Noodles, Oatmeal, Instant potatoes, Instant barley, etc. / Hot Sauce / Fruit / Canned Fish + Crackers / Candy + Chocolate Bars / Bottled Water / Instant Coffee + Tea + Hot Chocolate / Vitamins
- Candy + Chocolate as Gifts – Buy this in Russia, they have the BEST chocolate!
- Wipes – all-purpose wipes have infinite uses on the train .. you can even use them to “shower”!
- Anti-bacterial Gel – If you really dislike icky things, this will be your best friend, as the bathrooms sometime do not have soap.
- Toilet paper – We only needed this on the Chinese train, but I hear you might need it on some of the other trains from time to time. We just snagged an extra roll from our hotel before getting on the train.
- Eye Mask + Ear Plugs – in case your roommates don’t go to bed until after midnight and have the light on.
- Scarf – to make a tent over your train bunk for added privacy in second of third class. There are shelves you can tuck it into on the top + bottom bunks. Also helps to block out noise and light from roommates.
- Packable daypack or duffel – to keep your things/food accessible while your bigger pack is stashed away on the train, either under the bottom bunk or above the door.
- Travel Insurance – It helps to shop around. World Nomads and RoamRight travel insurance are good options to check out.
Have you spent time on the trans-siberian railroad? Let me know if I forgot anything in the comments below! I’m happy to answer any other questions about the train, Russia, Mongolia, or specific questions about what to wear on the trans-siberian railroad. 🙂 Just drop me a line in the comments.
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