Our Experience Taking the Overnight Sleeper Train in Ukraine with Kids

trainTraveling for a month with a family can be pricey. The Michael W Travels family uses miles and points to help bring down the costs. However, this doesn’t cover all of the expenses.

During our month long Summer 2018 Trip, we needed to get from Kiev to Odessa, Ukraine.

Our options were limited to a very long bus ride (no thanks), a short but pricey flight or an overnight sleeper train.

Kim and I decided that it would be an interesting experience to take an overnight train since we’ve never done this before. Also, our kids (6 year-old Lucas and Theo– almost 2 years-old) love trains.

This was bound to be an adventure and worse- case, this would be a learning experience which would also save us some money.

The overnight train cost us $85.71 for four bunks. If we took a flight, the cost would’ve been around $300 total plus we also would’ve needed a hotel room for that night.

Clearly, taking the overnight train was a big savings… But was it worth it?

We arrived at the train station around an hour before the train was set to depart. After standing around for a while, our track number was finally listed.

We headed over to our train to get our things organized but boy was it hot on the train. a person sitting in a bunk bedLucas was very excited to sleep on a train and didn’t have much of a problem getting comfortable.a luggage in a storage boxI then tried to figure out where we would store our things. (We had one extra bunk but we didn’t want to put a lot of our belongings on top.) The cabin has some hooks and a shelf by the top bunks, but they really weren’t of much use.

I then wondered if the beds/ seats lifted up on the lower bunks and we were happy to find out that they did! We were able to store a few bags and Theo’s stroller inside which was a huge help.

By the time I was done organizing our luggage, I was dripping in sweat. The main issue was that the windows in the cabins don’t open nor was there an air conditioning! Windows in the narrow corridor were left open so if you stay out in that area, you’d catch a nice breeze.
a man and child sitting on a bedTheo and I relaxed a bit and had a snack. After a while, I’ll say that sitting on the bed was not the most comfortable.
a bathroom with a sink and toiletAs for facilities, (I’m pretty sure) each train car has one bathroom. You can see, that the bathroom is very basic. While this one appeared to be relatively clean, another bathroom we checked out was smaller and smelled pretty awful!a person lying in bed with a tabletLucas had no issue getting comfortable and sleeping on the train. Theo also slept very well. Kim shared a bed with Theo, which was definitely a tight squeeze.

I found it hard to get comfortable sleeping on the train. The beds are very narrow and I tend to turn a bit when I sleep. This isn’t an easy task in a tight space.

Overall, I’m glad that we gave an overnight sleeper train a try. This was a great experience which the kids seemed to enjoy much more than the adults!

I wouldn’t rule out traveling this way again, but I wouldn’t recommend this kind of ride with a toddler.

In closing, Kim and I both felt that the overnight sleeper train was a great option to save money if you’re willing to give up comfort. (Going forward, we’re not at the moment.)

We’d like to give a more modern sleeper train a try in the future? Have any suggestions?

4 thoughts on “Our Experience Taking the Overnight Sleeper Train in Ukraine with Kids

  1. lenin1991- AC sure would’ve been nice! What I want to know is, what is the protocol with luggage for people on the top bunk? There isn’t much option in that case!

    Kyle- I’d definitely like to try a more modern sleeper in the future! I’ve heard that Amtrak has some amazing routes. From what I recall, they’re not so cheap though.

    1. Re luggage for the top bunk: yeah, when my wife & I traveled on Russian trains, we usually booked a top+bottom bunk so we had complete control. But there seems to be a pretty good social contract of folding up the top bunk & putting away bedding during the day, everyone sitting on the bottom, and accessing bags as reasonable.

      Otherwise, there was a bit of storage above the door.

  2. Haven’t done one myself, but I really want to try the Coast Starlight by Amtrak. There’s a bunch in Japan I wouldn’t mind trying too.

  3. I’ve taken lots of overnight trains in Russia that look similar. Austria’s OBB Nightjet service dominates central Europe and while more modern, they stack 6 people per cabin! So I prefer the eastern models. But higher quality trains with air conditioning is crucial in summer months.

    Bags going under the bed is an excellent feature for security, no worry about anything walking off.

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