I bought a Nook ereader just for train trips, so I don't have to carry half a dozen print books with me.
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!
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
Each 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!
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!
A map or gps app so you know where you are. Something to read - ereader or print, and if it's somehow related to the trip, all the better! (I reread Edward Abbey's Desert Solitaire on the Zephyr before and after passing the north end of Arches National Park - perfect.)
Some kind of slipper for walking around the train at night. It is not only a good idea but it a new rule which makes a lot of sense.
I would vote against heels on the train not just because the train is "a casual place", but also because they're simply unsafe. The train rocks, jolts, and rolls quite a bit, and it would be so easy to twist an ankle. It's also safer to have flat soles when moving between cars, as a sway can cause you to lose your footing if one foot is still on one car while the other foot is ahead on the other car. (Always hold onto the candy canes!)
You forgot a computer or pad of paper and writing pen for the writers! That's the first thing I pack. I travel for the sake of new experiences and places to write about. I like to take what is happening around me, throw it in a big pot, stir, and scopop out a ladle full of inspiration! Pad of paper, fountain pen, and/or computer! Then meds, clothes, deodorant...You do serve brandy, right?
Three additions I can think of... 1) an medications you take at bedtime or morning (and also things like Advil, melatonin, etc.) 2) a few granola bars. The snacks are plentiful on the train, but they do tend toward sugars and carbs, so if you will need a little protein fix it's BYO. 3) a sleep mask. Even though the lights are dimmed, the glare of fellow passengers electronic devices can make it hard to sleep.
It's a pretty good list. I'd only add 2 small, Dollar Store items for carry-on bags/people utilizing the AWESOME sleeper options onboard. The first is a small, LED penlight that can clip onto your bag. The other would be a 4-6 outlet power strip if you're bringing a phone, a laptop, etc. and have more than one person traveling.
If you're not traveling in a sleeper, bring a blanket. It will make you feel more comfortable and warm when trying to sleep.
@DanielLilly These are great suggestions. We always bring a tiny flashlight and a power strip. I also bring some binder clips just in case the velcro on the curtains isn't quite enough (or isn't fastening correctly). Oh, and earplugs. I'm a light sleeper.