11 Foods You Should Never Eat On A Train

For business or for pleasure, trains are a nifty way of getting from point A to point B. But, whether you're hopping on the subway for a couple of stops or hunkering down on the Amtrak for a few hours, there are some basic, unspoken rules you've got to follow. Keep your feet off the seats, don't play music so loud that your neighbor is also being serenaded by Taylor Swift from your headphones, and, if hunger strikes, there are certain foods that you should definitely not be eating. 

Just what are these culinary culprits? These are the snacks that will either do your fellow passengers, or yourself, a serious disservice. After all, a pungent smell or irritating noises are not something that Mr. Jones in seat 12B signed up to share his train car with. And a misjudged mouthful that leaves you with a stomach ache? That's a recipe for an uncomfortable trip, both for yourself and perhaps those around you. So, whether it's your regular commute to work or a one-off journey, choose your train treats wisely. Here are the foods you should never eat on a train.

1. Egg salad

Don't get us wrong, we love a good egg salad sandwich as much as the next person. But it is no secret that egg salad is a stink bomb of a lunch to unwrap on a train. The reason that egg salad can smell so strange is because of a reaction when eggs are boiled for your delicious sandwich. The cooking process (especially if you overdo things) causes the release of hydrogen sulfide in the egg whites that react with iron sulfide in the yolks, resulting in that characteristic eggy smell that many other passengers may find to be unpleasant.

So, pulling out your odorous egg salad sandwich may not make you a popular traveler. It may be better if you stick to eating egg salad in more ventilated outdoor locations, and not in the more enclosed environment of a train carriage. However, if an egg salad-style sandwich is calling your name, try out this herby chickpea salad sandwich instead. It'll give you that a similar creamy texture without the whiff of eggy sulfur.

2. Soup

When embarking on the adventure of traveling, it's natural for many of us to opt for homestyle comforts. And what could be more comforting than a warm bowl of tomato soup? But soup on a train is a bad idea for two reasons. The first is the fact that it's liquid. If you've been on a train and tried to deal with hot liquid, especially in an open container like a soup bowl, then you'll know that those train tracks can be pretty far from being smooth. Don't end up like this poor TikToker, who ended up spilling her lunch all over her white sleeve while taking a trip on Amtrak. No one wants to turn up to their final destination with a soupy stain on their clothes, after all.

The second reason to avoid soup takes into account your fellow passengers. Is there anything more off putting than being stuck listening to slurping  while you're just trying to travel in peace? For some unfortunate passengers, that issue could be the result of misophonia, known as an intense aversion to certain sounds. However, even those without misophonia may deeply dislike the noise of someone consuming soup. Who'd have thought that an innocent bowl of soup might just turn a calm journey into an ordeal? Best to stay firmly away from a liquid lunch.

3. Noodles

On the subject of slurping, let's talk about noodles. Specifically, instant ramen noodles. We can see why you might be tempted to pick up a packet of these to enjoy on a train. All you need to do is ask the refreshment server for some hot water and you've got yourself a warm, salty snack. But, here's another reality check: instant ramen noodles should never be eaten on a train. Aside from sharing the same noisy, potentially messy issues as soup, instant noodles are bad for you, too, oftentimes bringing sky-high levels of salt to a meal.

In fact, the high sodium content in regular instant noodles (up to 88% of an adults daily intake for some brands) make them especially bad for travel. If you must, be sure to bring a bottle of water with you, because not only will they make you incredibly thirsty, but when you're sitting and stationary for a long period of time, it's best to avoid high sodium foods. Lots of sodium leads to fluid retention which is why you might feel a bit puffy around the edges after a salty meal. It's your body hanging on to water after a heavy dose of salt ... like what you'd get from a meal of instant noodles. So, though ramen noodles might be a nifty meal to tuck into, we recommend avoiding those instant noodles unless you want to potentially disembark your train feeling puffy and sluggish.

4. Sushi

Upon first consideration, sushi may seem like a great train meal. It's typically pre-portioned into bite-sized nibbles, it's pretty healthy, and a box of the stuff is small enough to throw into a bag on your way to catch your train. But there are some serious potential issues with sushi that mean that this handy dandy snack probably shouldn't be eaten on a train. 

First, depending on which kind of sushi you get, it can turn kind of nasty, pretty quickly. If it contains raw or cooked fish, sushi should be left out of the refrigerator for no longer than two hours before it becomes a risk of foodborne illnesses. That's tricky if you're going on a longer train ride and don't have space for a mini fridge in your hand luggage.

The even worse thing about this possible situation is that it's not just you that will suffer. In a worst-case scenario, the stench of raw fish gone bad in an enclosed train carriage certainly won't go undetected by other passengers. If you simply must have your sushi fix then why not keep it strictly plant-based and get some vegan sushi that even omnivores will want to eat? It'll surely be less risky on a longer train journey.

5. Canned fish

Canned fish is a food that should never be eaten on a train for some pretty clear reasons. First, it can be a pretty messy operation if you're assembling your meal straight from the can. Just because some influencers make a canned mackerel and cracker combination snack that is simple enough to assemble on the hoof, it doesn't mean you should in the swaying environment of a moving train car. Consider that, once you've peeled back the lid, you'll then have to dig the fish out of the oil, water, or brine that it's in and transfer it to your vessel of choice. And while you may have decided that sardines will pack the protein punch your avocado toast is craving, good luck assembling that on a moving train without any nasty spillages.

Secondly, it's not a secret that canned fish smells pretty, well, fishy. Canned fish are one of the top foods that can make your breath smell bad, largely because of the trimethylamine that the food contains, which is a key component of that notorious odor. So even if you do get away with bringing forth the initial pungent aroma that cracking a can of fish will omit, you might start noticing passengers who slowly inch away from you. We can't say we'd blame them.

6. Brussels sprouts

Brussels sprouts are really having a moment, aren't they? These little cruciferous numbers have been granted a new lease on life as more and more people are stepping away from blandly boiling them. Instead, many are making them exciting by roasting or pan frying them. But Brussels sprouts come with a warning: they can smell a bit strange.

Much like eggs, Brussels sprouts release sulfur and raffinose which both are pungent gasses. You can reduce that pungency by cooking the sprouts quickly (we're talking in under five minutes), but that doesn't bode well if you are planning on taking a container of your leftover roasted parmesan-crusted Brussels sprouts on your next train journey. Though they may be delicious, those veggies take a turn in the oven for 35 minutes, which is way beyond that five minute smell threshold. So, don't be surprised if you get some funny looks when you crack open that Tupperware to tuck into your sprouts. 

A better idea would be to go for an uncooked Brussels sprout recipe like this sweet kale salad which calls for raw, shredded sprouts. No cooking means no smell (at least, until those sprouts get further into your digestive system and start potentially causing gas). For a short rain ride, anyway, this means you'll be much more popular on the journey.

7. Fast food

Picture it. You've arrived at the station 15 minutes before your departure. It's lunch time but you just don't have the space in your schedule for a sit down meal and the deli counter sandwiches are looking questionable. Suddenly, you get a whiff of the deep fryer and think "Problem solved!" You pick up a burger and fries to tuck into when you're on the train. 

Yet, this could be a bad idea. That paper bag of chips is messier than it looks and contains grease that could transfer onto your clothes. Where to put the ketchup? Do you rip the bag and zig zag it all over, or do you squeeze a pile in a torn corner? Either way, we hope you've packed a wet wipe.

That same whiff of fried foods that drew you to fast food in the first place may not make you popular in the carriage. Grease is a particularly hard smell to get rid of because the molecules within the grease easily stick to the fibers in clothes. Who wants second-hand burger smell on their clothes after a long journey? Lastly, it doesn't take that long for fast food burgers to go bad. In some cases, as little as 15 minutes will alter the profile of your food enough for it to not taste as good. So by the time you've made it to your seat and taken a bite, it's may not be that delicious anyway.

8. Chips

Though a bag of chips might seem like a convenient option to curb hunger pangs on a journey, they're actually not a food you should be eating in the enclosed space of a train carriage. Why? They're so darn crunchy! On a thread all about eating heavily scented foods on a train, one Redditor said "Never had much of a sense of smell and it's even weaker after covid so eat sardines for all I care. But lord knows when every f****r opens a bag of crisps I have to wrestle with my fight or flight response to the incessant crunching noises."

As it turns out, some brands of chips are crunchier than others and will make even more noise to disturb your seat mates. They might be delicious on a biological level (there's actually a scientific reason behind why we love crunchy foods) but, however much you might like them, they can be a real faux pas if you find yourself next to a sound sensitive passenger. Then, of course, there may also be messy crumbs to contend with. So, despite what you previously thought, the next time you head for the train station, you'll likely want to leave the bag of chips at home.

9. Guacamole

To many, the look of a food is just as important as its taste. This is exactly why you shouldn't be eating guacamole on a train. Why? The main ingredient of guacamole is avocado. The oxygen in the air with cause a process called enzymatic browning to occur, making your once appealingly green avocado look a little questionable (though it's still safe to eat). \

Though there are some techniques that will help to prevent your guacamole turning brown, like covering it in a layer of olive oil or dousing it in citrus, ultimately guacamole is best enjoyed fresh and likely won't fare well on a train journey. And aside from all of that? Well, dunking a chip into a pot of guacamole has got to be one of the best ways to enjoy the dip. Yet, as we've just discussed, loud, crumbly chips aren't a train friendly food. So a crunchy chip and a pot of browned guacamole that could drip everywhere? That's a big train journey no-no.

10. Really spicy food

Maybe you've got some leftover chicken tikka masala that you want to tuck into, or it could be that you've decided to try out something spicy from the menu at a fast food joint. But hold the fire, because we'd recommend keeping your train snacks mild. It's mainly your own comfort we are thinking about here. It's no secret that spicy food can cause some adverse effects for sensitive diners, be it heartburn, stomach ache and even the dreaded diarrhea. None of these sound like a lot of fun when you're trapped in the confines of a train carriage with what could be disastrously limited bathroom facilities.

Interestingly, the real reason you're craving spicy food might be because of the endorphin boost it can give you. So if you're finding yourself reaching for a packet of hot sauce to douse on your snack while next taking the train, then we'd suggest finding some other comfort food that'll give you a good feeling, and not a bad stomach, instead.

11. Leafy salads

If you're planning on packing a nice, healthy, leafy green salad with you on your next train journey, then first off, congratulations on being the health conscious person we are all striving to be. But secondly, we believe you should think twice about your choice of train snack. The issue is that the bright and beautiful salad that you carefully assembled at home can get soggy all too quickly. One of the mistakes you can make when crafting a salad is to add the dressing too early, which will start to break down the leafy vegetables and leave you with a limp, sad salad at meal time. Dressing is best added at the last minute for the most crunchy results, but that's a tough ask if you're making your salad ahead of time and taking it to go for your train ride. 

So, while a deliciously leafy Cobb salad might be appealing, it's better if you wait until you can enjoy it fresh. For an alternative that's still relatively healthy, consider something that omits leaves all together, like this corn salad or a healthy Moroccan carrot salad, which should stay crunchier and fresher much longer than a leafy salad ever could.