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 you pack for your journey.

1. Food

Even if meals are included with your ticket, bringing on board your own provisions can add some substance, snacks or pop of freshness to a long train ride or to supplement a train that doesn’t have a dining car. Some recommendations include:

  • General snacks like nuts, energy bars, crackers, pretzels
  • Fresh fruit and greens (meals can be carb heavy on trains)
  • Sweet tooth? Don’t forget chocolate, candy or other treat
  • An entire meal or two if you are sitting in coach or just lack a dining car (cafe choices can be limited). Large rail stations like Penn in New York, and the union stations in Chicago and D.C. all have food courts, so you can get a salad or sandwich to go before you board the train.

Tip: Don’t forget that you are allowed two carry on items, which could include a small cooler.

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

Mixed reviews are out there on the cleanliness of some of the trains. It doesn’t hurt to pack your own cleaning wipes for quick wipe down of your seating area or the shared bathrooms. A clean train is a happy train!

5. Entertainment

Just to state the obvious, especially on long trips or in case of delays, books, magazines, crafts, coloring books, playing cards and other games can keep you entertained.

6. Duct Tape

Yeah, duck tape might sound odd, but rattling windows and parts can be disruptive to a good night’s rest. So come prepared with a tape roll and small scissors to silence any annoyances.

7. Mobile Hotspot/Personal WiFi

Not all Amtrak trains have WiFi, so bring a mobile hotspot device or other WiFi tool you might have. Some of the more isolated and mountainous train routes also have limited cell phone service in case you decide to tether your phone. Don’t forget to enjoy the scenery though if you are on a more scenic route!

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