In Transit: How To Make Train Journeys Less Dull

By Parisa Hashempour | Thursday 18th May, 2017

The scenario is always the same – bouts of staring out the window, followed by bouts of crying with boredom followed by bouts of screaming at your phone because the signal in this godforsaken green, cow-littered part of the country is about as good quality as a pair of jeggings from Topshop. Yes, you’re on a train.

But don’t fret. I’ve come up with ten ways you can make your train journey more productive – by the time you get there you’ll be a new you.

Make A Friend

You might think I sound mad – especially you London folk, you boring buggers, you. But making friends on public transport isn’t as crazy as you think. Okay, you get the odd weirdo but there are some surprisingly interesting lessons to be learned from strangers. I once sat next to a photographer who told me in depth stories about his time travelling South America. By the end of the journey I not only felt inspired to travel to the places he’d talked about but I’d also learned how to survive a crocodile attack (try and tell me that won’t come in handy some day). Anyway who knows, if you strike lucky you might be sat by a hottie and this could be the start of a burning romance. And if not, well now isn’t the time to be choo-choo-sy (sorry, I couldn’t help it).

Learn A Language

Duolingo, podcasts or even go old school and use a language learning book – there are more than a few ways to swot up on your language skills on your next train journey. Not only will you be a huge hit with the locals next time you go on your jollies but according to a study from Nizam’s Institute of Medical Sciences in India, learning a language can delay age-related illness such as dementia by up to 4.5 years (and after all that drinking uni has got you doing, when it comes to health you could use all the help you can get).


Feeling stressed about life? Uni? North Korea? That’s totally okay. Meditation can teach you to accept your feelings and in the process can leave you feeling pretty chilled out. Apps like Headspace are amazing for guided meditative practice that you can easily do on public transport. So next time you feel yourself going stir crazy staring out of the train window, get your zen on and meditate.


Okay this might sound like an obvious one but getting a few hours of kip can make all the difference – you don’t want to turn up to your parents house cranky and sleep-deprived. If you’re lucky enough to have a seat free next to you, spread yourself out. If you’re sat at a table seat, plop that head down and get snoozing. Dribble in your sleep? No problem. Shout in your sleep? Don’t worry about it. If you followed my first suggestion the people of the train are all your buddies now anyway.

Get Creative

Train journeys are like showers, swimming and lying in bed at night – there is plenty of time in your own head. This is when the creative ideas hit you and you want to be prepared for them. Get your notes out on your phone or keep a notepad and pen handy and let your creative juices flow. Always wanted to write a book? Now is the time to get thinking of that plot. Fancy yourself as an entrepreneur? Start making that business plan. It’s rare that we ever have time to sit still and really think about our ideas so take this moment and use it to your full advantage.

(One for the Ladies) Train Your Pelvic Floor

This is one important muscle that does not get enough attention. You can work all day to make your bum and legs look amazing but if those muscular legs of yours spend hours running to and from the loo in later life – you’ll regret not training your pelvic floor as hard as you did those quads and hamstrings. And contrary to popular belief you don’t need a fancy machine to help you do it. A quick Google will teach you the technique – so give your lady area some love and turn that commute into a workout.

Read the Hours Away

I’m not one of those people that can sit and read a book on a train – I get super motion sick which sucks for me. But if you are one of those lucky people, there’s no better way to make time disappear. Make like Belle and get stuck into some reading. Delve into a non-fiction and learn enough about a new topic to impress everyone when you arrive or simply lose yourself in a fiction novel – check out an e-reading app if you don’t have space for a book in your bag.

Listen To A Podcast

Whether it’s comedy, history or a debate among leading scientists on the direction of artificial intelligence, a podcast is a super productive way to speed up your train journey. Apps like Podbean are great for this and you can download your podcast to your phone so that you don’t have to worry about your signal disappearing in the countryside. Broaden your mind or just have a little giggle – you’ll be wishing your train journey was that little bit longer so you can finish the next podcast.

Learn Lyrics

Figure it would be really cool if you could rap all the words to the new Kendrick Lamar song next time it comes on when you’re with friends? You’ve got nothing better to do – play that song on repeat and get those words down to a t.


I know your mum told you not to do it but if all else fails, why not just listen in on other people’s conversations. You never know if a conversation has the potential to further your life’s education until you listen, so get listening. It might just inspire you for that story you’re writing or if they happen to be speaking the foreign language you’re trying to perfect it could help you brush up on your skills.

One thing you can do on your journey, is download Loot here. The app lets you budget, put money aside and you can use the contactless card abroad for free without additional fees!