AmtrakAmtrak Tips

9 Essential Items You Need On Your First Amtrak Vacation

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We took our first Amtrak Vacation this year and loved it so much that we took 3 more in the months that followed. Along the way we realized there were some things that were essential to having a great experience on an Amtrak Vacation.

Amtrak Vacation Baggage Allowances
You Can Bring A Generous Amount of Bags On Your Amtrak Vacation

Flip Flops

You’ll want these anytime you go to the bathroom in the night on an Amtrak train. If you are asleep with you shoes off, you won’t want to spend the time putting on shoes. It isn’t a good idea to venture to the bathroom in bare feet in the middle of the night!

We bought comfortable flip flops and put them right by the door in our roomette. These are the flip flops Rob uses on the train.

Last update on 2023-10-07 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

USB Power Pack

Power outlets are limited in the roomette’s, at only one per room so charging electronics overnight can be tricky. With one of these adapters, you’ll be able to charge you camera, phone and tablets overnight while you sleep. There are additional outlets in the observation car if you need to charge a bunch of things quickly.

INIU Portable Charger, 22.5W 20000mAh USB C in & Out Power Bank Fast Charging, PD 3.0+QC 4.0 LED Display Phone Battery Pack Compatible with iPhone 14 13 12 Pro Samsung S21 Google LG iPad Tablet, etc.
  • ✅【From INIU–the SAFE Fast Charge Pro】Experience the safest charging with over 38 million global users. At INIU, we use only the highest-grade materials, so we do have the confidence to provide an industry-leading 3 years warranty.

Last update on 2023-04-12 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Travel Adapter

The most important thing you can bring is a travel adapter with multiple USB ports. This adapter has 3 USB and 2 USB type C ports as well as the original outlet.

Universal Travel Adapter, TESSAN International Plug Adapter, 5.6A 3 USB C 2 USB A Ports, All-in-one Travel Charger Outlet Converter for Europe UK EU AUS (Type C/G/A/I)
  • International travel Adapter for Travel: Our all-in-one adapter has 4 different plugs built in which covers over 150 countries: Type C Plug: Most of Europe, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Iceland, Greece, Israel; Type G Plug: UK, Ireland, London, England, Scotland, Dubai; Type I Plug: China, Australia, New Zealand; Type A Plug: USA, Japan, Canada; so this travel essentials is suitable for your worldwide travel

Last update on 2023-10-07 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


You are allowed to bring food on the train and you should really consider doing it. Even if you are in a roomette with free meals, the dining service isn’t open late and may not be open when you are hungry. On one of our trains the cafe was closed most of the day because of a cash register malfunction. The food is generally very good and reliable, but it can turn into a big deal if there is ever a problem.

Our go to snack on the train is Nugo Protein Bars!

NuGo Protein Bar, Orange Smoothie, 11g Protein, 170 Calories, Gluten Free, 15 Count
  • Families love NuGo Protein bars! Keep your whole family healthy and strong with NuGo Bars. Packed with delicious gluten free ingredients, vitamins and minerals and the taste of real milk chocolate or delicious yogurt, this snack bar will have you and your family hooked and energized to take on the day.

Last update on 2023-04-13 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Good Toiletries Bag

You’ll be venturing to the bathroom often on your trip and sometimes the best bathroom may be on another level or in another car. You don’t want to carry everything you need by hand and there isn’t counter space in the bathroom to set everything down. A hook on the back of the door is provided to help you in this process.

SaleBestseller No. 1
BAGSMART Large Toiletry Bag Travel Bag with Hanging Hook, Water-resistant Makeup Cosmetic Bag Travel Organizer for Accessories, Shampoo, Full Sized Container, Toiletries
  • Large Capacity – 12.6 x 9.1 x 4.3 inch (rolled); 12.6 x 33.5 inch(open) 4 separate compartments with zip and back open pocket for great organization. Suitable for your family trip to pack all men, women and kids toiletries.
SaleBestseller No. 2
Relavel Travel Hanging Toiletry Bag for Men Women Travel Kit Shaving Bag Waterproof Large Makeup Bag Wash Bag Makeup Organizer Cosmetic Case for Bathroom Shower Black
  • Waterproof Material: This travel toiletry bag is made of attractive Nylon material, water resistant and durable. The interior of the bag is securely lined with a special material that can handle accidental toiletry spills and can be easily cleaned.
SaleBestseller No. 3
Narwey Hanging Travel Toiletry Bag Cosmetic Make up Organizer for Women and Men (Medium, Orange Leopard)
  • ✅ PRACTICAL 25cm TALL – The main compartment has a practical height of 25cm (9.12″) which could easily fit travel-size shampoo & conditioner, lotion, face wash, toothpaste, toothbrushes, hair brush and daily makeups. Medium size is suitable for overnight or short trips.

Last update on 2023-04-09 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


If you are in coach you’ll have people getting on and off the train most of the night so you’ll want something to block out the sound. If you are sleeping in a roomette it is less of an issue unless you just want to drown out the sound of the train.

We generally travel with wireless headphones so our phones can be tucked away safely while we are sleeping. Allie uses these Bose Sleepbuds II on the train and loves them! She doesn’t hear a thing while sleeping.

UPDATE: The Bose Sleepbuds II have been discontinued and now Allie is using the much cheaper Loop Headphones

Loop Quiet Ear Plugs for Noise Reduction – Super Soft, Reusable Hearing Protection in Flexible Silicone for Sleep, Noise Sensitivity – 8 Ear Tips in XS/S/M/L – 26dB & NRR 14 Noise Cancelling – Black
  • NOISE REDUCTION – Loop Quiet earplugs are reusable and durable hearing protection, made from soft silicone. They reduce most noise and help you to get in your bubble. They have a noise reduction rating (SNR) of 26 decibels, NRR of 14 and come in 6 stylish colors.

Last update on 2023-10-07 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Handheld Fan

We bring a handheld fan with us just in case it gets to warm for someone in party.

Gaiatop Mini Portable Fan, Dual Motors Powerful Handheld Fan, Cute Design 3 Speed Personal Small Desk Fan with Base, Lightweight Makeup USB Rechargeable Fan for Stylish Girl Women Men Indoor Outdoor
  • Great Summer Gift: Super cute fairy wand fan, overall design is very linear, has graceful curves, and high-quality texture, making it look valuable. An ideal gift for stylish girls, boys, men, women, and children.

Last update on 2023-10-07 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Downloaded Entertainment

Many Amtrak trains don’t have Wifi and on some of them you’ll be in remote parts of the country away from the highway and cell service. It’s a good idea to download any movies or shows and music you want to listen to before you start the trip. We were surprised at how much of the trip we had no service at all.


Cash may not be accepted on the train to buy food, as of this writing it isn’t, but it is still accepted by the staff for a tip. You may want to tip the room steward, dining car steward or cafe attendant if they are helpful to you. Cash is the only way you’ll be able to tip them. Tips are not mandatory like on a cruise ship, but from what we saw about half of the people in the roomettes tipped.


Depending on your train and the time of year it can get cold on an Amtrak train, think Empire Builder in December! A small blanket would be great to bring with you to the observation car or curl up with in your seat as you watch the world pass by.

Do you have any other items that you find essential on an Amtrak Vacation? Let us know in the comments what you need each time you board the train.

If you are having trouble deciding between coach and a roomette you may find our Amtrak Sunset Limited coach review helpful.

If it is your first time riding Amtrak you should also check out our Amtrak beginners guide.

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Robert Marmion
Rob is married to Allie and together they have been traveling the world for the past 5 years. Rob is one of the most published photographers in the world, having published over 1 million images in the last 20 years. He enjoys doing landscape and astrophotography while on the road.