Five Essential Packing List Items for Your Train Trip

Every travel packing list should begin with your essentials (keys, wallet, mobile phone, a tattered loyalty card for a restaurant that closed 8 years ago that you haven’t made the time to process the loss of yet, etc.) and weather-appropriate garb for your destination, but how do you make the most of your suitcase and carry-on space for the unique experience of train travel? Whether it’s a day trip or an overnight adventure, there are a few train travel essentials to consider bringing.

1. Entertainment

The awe-inspiring views from the train are a leading cause of “falling in love with train travel,” but it’s also one of the most relaxing settings imaginable for finally cracking open a new book, playing a board game, or catching up on that backlog of This American Life episodes. If you’re bringing an electronic device (or three) for your onboard entertainment, we definitely recommend downloading ahead of time.

2. Headphones & Earplugs

While the train’s unique ASMR-like sounds are so sought after that it’s an extraordinarily popular YouTube niche, we don’t fault anyone for needing a little variety — or silence — in their aural experience. Especially if you’re not on the Quiet Car or in a private room, tailoring the noise to your preference by bringing headphones and/or earplugs is a great way to tune out distractions and personalize your train travel experience.

3. Camera

You’re probably thinking “my phone has a camera and that was definitely not something I was leaving home without,” and that’s very valid. Nevertheless, we could hardly emphasize how much more photographic your train trip will be compared to other travel options. This is a reminder to keep your camera close at hand and gorgeous photo opportunities top of mind. Go on and make your friends jealous.

4. Chargers & Adapters

With two outlets at every seat pair, you’ll want to make the most of that outlet if you’ve brought multiple devices that need to stay powered; a travel adapter with multiple USB ports is a great space-saving device for your train trip. This will support your goals of staying entertained and connected. If you’re in an aisle seat with a stranger next to you, just remember to ask before reaching over them.

5. Snacks & Drinks

There is no shortage of dining options aboard any given Amtrak train, but you might be traveling solo and want to avoid leaving your items unattended or you may have dietary restrictions or preferences not covered by the menu. Make space in your luggage or carry-on to have the food and beverages of your choice — unlike on a plane, no one is treating your preferred consumables as a national security threat.

There is so much space to enjoy yourself, especially in a private room; here’s some inspiration for packing extra fun for your next Amtrak train trip.