7 essential things to pack for your Amtrak trip

Be prepared, as the Boy Scouts would say. And definitely planning ahead for your Amtrak trip can make or break your comfort level. Here are the items we highly recommend packing for your journey.

1. Food

Even if meals are included with your ticket, bringing food on the train is recommended, especially if you want to eat healthy. You can bring a smaller cooler or insulated lunch bag with you on the train to include refrigerated foods, or consider buying a meal at or near your starting station to eat while on board.

If you’re planning to pack food at home before your trip, here are some idea:

  • Salty snacks like nuts, chips, crackers, pretzels
  • Cereal (especially the kind that is easy to eat without milk like Chex or Cheerios)
  • Protein: Cheese sticks, jerky, beef or turkey snack sticks or bites, peanut butter, hummus, edamame
  • Fruit: Apples, bananas, oranges or tangerines, applesauce pouches, avocado
  • Veggies: Carrots, celery, cucumber, sliced bell pepper
  • Sweets: Chocolate, candy, cookies

2. Warm Layer or Blanket

Many riders have had uncomfortable rail journeys due to being cold on the trains, even in summer. Be sure to pack a sweatshirt, fleece jacket, sweater or small blanket. Some people recommend a hooded sweatshirt as it can also provide some privacy and padding if you’re trying to sleep in coach.

3. Motion Sickness Medicine

Especially on cross-country train tips, motion sickness medicine can be a life saver. Trains often sway on the tracks and it’s no fun to be queasy.  If you are prone to motion sickness in general, it might be a good idea to pop a pill before the train departs on a long route.

4. Cleaning Wipes

Cleaning wipes can disinfect your seating area and the shared bathrooms, especially during the coronavirus pandemic.

5. Non-Tech Entertainment

Especially on long trips or in case of delays, books, magazines, crafts, coloring books, playing cards, toys and other games can keep you entertained. Most of the long-distance routes do not have WiFi, and parts of some routes have poor cell phone reception, so it is always good to have some tech-free things to do.

6. Tech Accessories

Headphones are key for listening to music, playing video games or watching movies, especially if you plan to enjoy your tech in a coach seat, in the cafe or in the sightseer lounge. Additionally, don’t forget to bring your phone charger and any other charging cord with you in a carry-on bag vs a checked or stored suitcase. Power outlets are available on Amtrak trains in sleeping accommodations, cafe cars and at most coach seats.

7. Cash

Don’t forget to bring cash so you can tip employees. Red cap attendants can help you board/find seats if you’re in a large group or need extra help with luggage. Minimum $10 tip is suggested. Also, for those traveling in a sleeper car, don’t forget to tip your car attendant, especially for a quality experience. The typical range is $5 to $10 per night, and some people tip higher than that for excellent service.

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