Riding on Amtrak is our favorite thing to do! Over the years we’ve compiled a list of must have items to make your Amtrak trip more enjoyable. If you are looking to take better photos or just have an easier trip to the bathroom in the night, these suggestions will help!
Packing For Amtrak
Update: Rob’s backpack is the older version of this one. The one you see in our videos is the older version of this backpack.
This backpack serves several purposes for us. First of all it is waterproof, so it holds our most valuable gear, including cameras, drones, and computers. Secondly, it has a hard shell on the top and the back, so there is added protection if it gets bumped or falls. The hard shell also doubles as a drone launch and landing pad if you carry one! Most importantly though, this backpack is large. If you are riding in coach you’ll want to keep all of your valuables with you when you leave your seat, and this backpack will fit everything you need and more.
Rob carries this backpack and loves the comfort and durability it has shown so far.
Allie carries this smaller camera bag for her GoPro and Sony A6600 Camera. Even though we both carry a GoPro, we use the one she carries for almost all of the filming we do, since it is easily accessible. This bag has proven to be a valuable addition to our luggage. She loves just taking this bag down to the observation car or even the dining car to take take some pictures and videos.
Update: We now use the 23 inch version, but the 21 will work fine too.
When we first started riding Amtrak we both were using the large 26 inch suitcases, and they were just too big for every situation. If you are checking your bags or are going to leave them in the storage compartment on the lower level of a Superliner Sleeper Car, those will work, but they can be difficult to get up the steps on Amtrak trains.
Instead we now use the 21 inch suitcase and it is much easier. In general these bags are much easier to manage than our older, larger bags. If you are doing a long trip, each person should have one, but for a trip of just a few days, you could get away with just one.
Our snack bag! When in coach we put a 6 pack of soda and quite a few snacks in this bag. In a sleeper car, we leave the soda out since it is included. We choose this bag because frankly, it looks terrible. But, it is also not the type of bag others would think something nice is in, so we are confident to just leave it at our seat when we walk around the train. We only keep food in our “leave at our seat bag” anyway, so if somebody wants some, it wouldn’t bother us if they took anything!
You really don’t want to be leaving your Vera Bradley bag on your seat in coach while you go to the observation car.
Sleeping On The Train
Allie doesn’t like hearing the train through the night while she is sleeping so she wears these Sleep Buds all night. They are noise canceling headphones that eliminate most of the train noise. Since she started wearing these at night, her sleep on the train has improved dramatically. If you purchase these, get the version II, they are way better than the version I.
We both use a neck pillow on the train. They are useful during the day for a nap or at night to sleep. One like this snaps easily to the upper loop on our backpack, so we conserve space by carrying it that way.
Life On The Train
Since there are limited power outlets on the train, this is really a must have accessory. This charger will charge your phone like a normal charger, but it has an internal battery and can charge your phone or any USB-C device even when not plugged in!
Ok, so you bring a lot of electronics with you on the train. We do too! We also carry a larger charger that will charge two USB-C devices at once. Great for a tablet, phone or computer.
We bought these for Rob to use on the train. They are perfect. Easy to slip on at night when he crawls out of the top bunk to go down the hallway to the bathroom, but also stylish enough to wear during the day. You’ll definitely want a nice pair of flip flops to take to the shower and bathroom, but why not get ones you can wear out too.
Some of the fresh air breaks are quick, and you don’t want to waste 2-3 minutes of the 7 minute break to find and put on socks and shoes. This is a big deal when your next stop isn’t for another 4 hours!
Allie gets cold on the train, and brings this to the dining car and observation car to use as needed. It is also great to throw on quickly when stepping off the train at a quick fresh air break.
If you think you might have a problem with motion sickness on the train, these could help. Allie uses them and says they do help to settle her stomach if she is experiencing any type of motion sickness.
Update: We now use this wall charger.
This box will charge 4 regular USB devices at once. Unlike the two charges listed above, it does need to be plugged in to work. But, it charges the most devices and is the cheapest. We carry both types because this one is good when you have an outlet and the others are good when you don’t.
We just went ahead an ordered a large pack of these. On the train it is easier to just have a bunch of them and get a fresh one whenever you want.
There isn’t much counter space in the bathrooms on Amtrak and if there is counter space, it could be wet. That water is hard to control on a moving train. For that reason we suggest a hanging toiletries bag. There is usually a hook to hang it up on the back of the door.
There are so many uses for these, especially if you are in a Viewliner I Roomette (with toilet). Just plan to bring some and you’ll be glad to have them if you need them.
Electronics on the Train
We carry an extensive amount of Cameras and accessories on the train. If you’d like to see all of our photo and video equipment, and how we use it, see our Amtrak photography post.
The best way to capture video on the train is with a GoPro. The newest version out as of this writing is the Hero 10 Black. We use the Hero 9 Black and love it. You might be able to get that one a little cheaper, and there is very little difference between them.
Allie loves to read on a train as she enjoys the passing scenery. She’s tried most of the Kindle’s and this one is her favorite. It is easy to hold and easy on the eyes.
Snacks are important if you stay up late, as dinner and the cafe will close long before you go to sleep. Bring enough snacks to make it through your trip as the snacks in the cafe are expensive and only available until around 10pm.
This is Rob’s go to snack on the train. It tastes great and provides enough protein to feel like a meal. We’ve only seen the Orange Smoothie flavor at one local store in New York, so we just order them now. They are not messy, so they can be easily eaten on the top berth overnight.
Our favorite candy to have on the train. For some reason we both love them, so it is an easy choice!
We both like Key Lime Pie and granola, so this bag is great in the afternoon if you’ve scheduled a late dinner. Depending on how full the train is, you might not always get the time you want. This bag is helpful for those moments.