Big trips often require big planning, yet it’s bound to be worth it, right? In the case of the Transsiberian and Transmongolian railway journey, I can vouch that it will be the trip of a lifetime, one you read in the books about with almost too many experiences to take in. Preparing for it is a big task and it can seem daunting. From figuring out where you want to get off, to booking the train and knowing what you’ll need onboard, this trip’s packing list is different from your usual travel checklist. Why? Because you’ll be visiting three countries (probably) with different climates and sleeping on a train for a couple of days needs its own agenda.

So, after having done the trip, we are letting you in on all of the essentials you’ll need whilst on the Transsiberian-Transmongolian. Save it, screenshot it, guard this post like it’s your travel bible.

1. Toilet paper

There’s a reason this is number one on the list and it’s because it’s a must. Yes, the train does have its own but it might run out or you may want to take your own for extra care of your hygiene. It might also come in handy in the cabin as chances are you’ll want to wipe your hands or clear the table. The most vital moment of the trip where toilet paper will be your best friend is if you stay with a nomad family in Mongolia (and we 100% recommend you should). The bathroom experience there will certainly be…unique and cleanliness isn’t its best feature so be sure to take lots of it. If you’re flying light, buy some on arrival, it will probably be cheaper that way too.

2. Wet wipes

Equally as important as toilet paper, wet wipes will offer that slight and temporary sense of freshness when nothing else is around. Trust us, after days on the train and living it up with Mongolian nomads being shower-free, wet wipes are the secret ingredient. You’ll discover a new meaning of the term ‘showering’ as you wipe your body with them on the train, in desperation to feel a little bit more fresh. Besides cleaning your body, you’ll come into contact with dozens of items, environments and people on the trip. Have a pack in your bag to disinfect your hands.

Pro tip: Buy the baby-proof wetties so your sensitive areas are safe too.

3. Eye mask

On the train, you might share your cabin with strangers and as you change many timezones, everyone’s biological clock will be on different spectrums. People might be waking up or going to bed at a different time than you or boarding and leaving the train early morning or late evening. To avoid waking up when this happens or letting the sunlight affect you, take an eye mask to enjoy a better night’s sleep. Block out the world and dream away.

4. Something to keep you busy

If you choose not to have any stops and go from Moscow straight to Beijing – the final stop – that’s 7 days on the train. Yes, a whole week on board so you’ll want something to keep you entertained and busy. Sure the landscapes you pass will be striking and talking with fellow travelers is thrilling and you should do lots of that, yet you should still take items to pass the time. Books and films on a tablet are two very useful methods. Cards are another great way to idle away time and to make friends. UNO and a lot of other card games are universal, use them to meet people, whether you speak the same language or not.

5. Cash

The only place you’ll need money on the train will be at the restaurant cart or if you buy something from the kiosks at one of the stations. Not all will accept card so it’s best to have the local currency with you. The only country you shouldn’t exchange a lot of money at is Mongolia. Very few countries accept Mongolian money or are willing to exchange it so it’s best to have a little and use your card once there, wherever you can. On the train, ask them to give you change in Russian or Chinese money.

6. Comfortable clothes

The longest I spent on the train during this trip is roughly 80 hours, that’s three days and I certainly enjoyed lounging around in my yoga pants and sweatpants. Comfort is key on the train. You’re trapped on a moving vehicle for long hours, sleeping, eating and everything in between, you want nothing clinging on tightly. Let your body have room to breathe and feel free. Besides, you’ll be in between laying, sitting and standing all day long so choose outfits that are comfortable and versatile. Baggy t-shirts, loose dresses, boho pants and so on. Tried and tested ya’ll.

7. Flip Flops

Whenever you travel, wherever you go, flip flops should be in your suitcase. If you’re using shared showers like in a hostel, you’ll need flip flops. If you want to comfortable walk around your hotel, you’ll need flip flops. Staying in an AirBnB, take flip flops. Same goes for the Transsiberian. Nearly everyone I met was wearing flip flops or some kind of open sandals. With socks or without, you’ll be moving from beds to chairs and tables, taking your shoes on and off constantly. Flip flops are the best way to move around.

8. Snacks

The restaurant cart offers some meals and breakfast yet it’s not open 24/7 and in some places, the cart might get detached depending on the country you’re entering. To save money and make sure you have food to eat, take nibbles with you. You know, the all-time favourite pot noodles, instant oatmeal, fruit, bread and other snacks that can last a few days. The same goes for tea and coffee. Each train wagon has a samovar with hot water, simply fill up your mug and make your own hot beverage.

9. Passport & visas

This is an obvious one but have photocopies of your official documents just in case, border control needs them. Along with them have a file of your hotel bookings with its addresses and invitation letters as chances are, officials will have to check them out. All countries will give you an immigration card upon entry, guard it with your life as you’ll be asked to hand it in when leaving.

10. A medicine box

One of the worse things to happen while on the road is to fall ill. Take a small medicine box with all of the essentials for you, perhaps an aspirin, band-aids, mosquito repellant or allergy pills, whatever applies to you so you don’t run around lost in translation while there.

11. Face towel

It’s very probable that your train bed will come with sheets, pillows and a small face towel but not everyone on my train got one, even in first class. So, to make sure you can wash your face or if you want to be in control of what kind of towel you’re using, take your own. Make sure it’s a small one that can be packed lightly in your carry-on.

12. Adaptors and chargers

We live in a technology-dependent world, you hardly need reminding to pack your phone or tablet charger but just in case there’s too much on your mind, here it is. Remember to take adaptors as well as you’ll find different plugs in each country.

13. Camera

Please, please, please, take your camera and its charger. Even if you’re not into photography, you’ll pass by such stunning scenery, people and ways of life, have a good method of documenting it. Take as many or as little photos and videos you like, but take some, you’ll be grateful to look back on them. After all, it’s a source that keeps memories and stories alive.