What to Bring on an Overnight Train Ride

You’re the proud owner of an Amtrak long-distance train ticket, and adventure awaits! But before you leave home, here’s what you need to pack for an overnight train ride. Most importantly, bring a photo ID, the rest is all extra!

Wear comfortable clothes
We’re not talking full-on pajamas, but breathable, stretchy clothing will make your ride more enjoyable. If you choose to have dinner in our awesome dining car, the dress code is still casual. Feel free to wear jeans and a T-shirt or take it old school and wear a dinner jacket. The most important thing is to wear a smile!

Bring headphonesPacking for a Train
Whether they’re earbuds or Dre Beats, your headphones are essential for long train trips. You can use them to listen to your favorite tunes as the scenery rolls by or watch your favorite movie after dinner. Even though our sleeper accommodations have a high degree of privacy with their own locking doors, headphones are a nice consideration for your neighbors in nearby rooms.

Skip the towels and sheets
If you have a sleeper car reservation, there are linens provided for you. Just like a hotel! Facial, hand and body towels are all included, and your train attendant will make your bed for you at night and put it away for you in the morning whenever you want. We also provide pillows, but you’re free to bring additional ones. Just remember space is at a premium in our room!

Plan for comfortable shoes
Passengers are required to wear shoes at all times while moving around the train, so plan to bring a comfortable pair that you don’t mind wearing all day in the Observation Car. These usually include flat, flexible shoes like tennis shoes or Chucks. The train is a casual place, so give your stilettos a break!

Pack your charger
Silver Meteor RoometteEach sleeper car has its own outlets, so be sure to bring your phone and camera charger. You’re going to be snapping lots of pics and playing on your phone a lot. This is no time for a dead battery. To graduate to Expert Traveler status, include an power strip in your bag. That will ensure you never go without full access to your allllllllll of gadgets at once.

Bring Special Toiletries
Just like a hotel, we provide shampoo, soap and bottled water in all of our rooms. If your beauty regimen requires something special (hey, the train is a judge-free place), please be sure to bring it. That includes, toothpaste, mouthwash, body lotion, hair conditioner, hair spray/gel, hairdryers and shower caps. The best part about traveling by train? No liquids restrictions!

Smart Luggage
There’s special storage space in all of our sleeper car rooms, including limited hanging space. If you tend to overpack for trips, take advantage of our two free checked bags. Then pack your train essentials in a separate smaller bag to bring onboard with you. That should include your toiletries, gadgets, comfortable shoes, pajamas, clothes for your days on the train and reading material.

We won’t get too corny, but the  majesty of the great American landscape will captivate you. We’re sure of it. If you want additional entertainment while you ride our long-distance trains try downloading some audio books or movies before you leave, backing your special traveling journal or upgrading your camera in preparation of those amazing views.

What other tips do you have for passengers taking an overnight trip? Tell us in the comments below!


I ride coach, mainly out of Chicago.  Have been to California and back on the Southwest Chief once this year, and to NY City on the Lakeshore Limited half a dozen times. This is what I've learned to pack:  A pillow and a sheet (or stadium blanket) to make sleep less uncomfortable in coach, a laptop computer loaded with a lot of podcasts for soethig to listen to in either direction. Wi-fi doesn't exist much west of Chicago, and is often quite slow (but good enough for e-mail) East of Chicago. Either way, having the podcasts and a set of headphones makes it very easy to sleep sitting up. 

The trip up or down the Hudson, from Albany to NYC, is priceless.  Don't allow ANYTHING to distract you from enjoying it. 


Where can I see the rest of her trip ?


Took Amtrak from Seattle to New Youk many years ago. Had a sleeper car for the four day four night trip. I loved every minute of it. would do it again in a heart beat. 


Riding in a sleeper car is really a night and day difference between riding in coach. Riding from New Orleans to Chicago in coach was like riding on a roller coaster when the train was at top speed. Barely noticeable when laying down in the sleeper car. In fact, the movement of the train will actually lull you to sleep if you let it. It is nice to be able to go to the dining car and enjoy meals and make new friends. The only downside from riding in coach was that in the sleeper car, there was only one outlet and it was located on the outside of the closet. In coach, there were numerous outlets located at arms length. I personally can't wait to visit the west and possibly the rest of the states from the comfort of my bed.


Why do we need a photo ID to ride the train?


Go online to http://www.amtrak.com/onboard-the-train-meals-dining and download the dining car menu and the Cafe/Lounge car menu. (2 separate .pdfs)

You'll get an idea of what's offered for regular dining or for just snacks.

I WILL tell you that the flatiron steak is WONDERFUL! A little pricey, but hey, it's almost like room service!

Plus if you get a roomette or sleeper, your meals are at no cost.

Dining in the Amtrak dining car at dusk for dinner is one of those 'bucket list' things that people want to do!

Also breakfast in the dining car at sunrise.

It's magical.