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Complete Guide To Packing For An Amtrak Trip

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One of the first things you need when preparing for an Amtrak journey is a complete Guide to packing for an Amtrak trip. We’ll share our best practices and tips for a better journey. These tips are for sleeper car passengers but can be used for packing for any Amtrak trip in general. This list will prepare for your journey.

complete guide to packing for an amtrak trip
Ready for a ride on the Acela

Amtrak Baggage Policy

One of the great things about a train journey is the baggage policy, unlike air travel, which is very restricted, Amtrak allows two checked bags per passenger with each ticket. Each checked bag much be under 50 lbs as they are handled by Amtrak staff. Keep in mind that there is no over weight fee, you will have to remove items or the bag can not be checked. You are also allowed two carry on bags with your journey. Amtrak has a good baggage allowance but you don’t want to bring that many bags with you unless you really have to.

Amtrak Baggage Policy

What To Do Before Your Trip

There are a few things to plan out before you embark on your journey. You will want to consider your entertainment for the trip. If you plan to watch movies, listen to music or read books, you need to be sure you have downloaded these items. Although most trains on the East Coast will have WiFi available or cell service you will not have it all the time and the signal may not be as good as when you are at home. Downloading your digital media will make your journey a better one.

Keeping Track Of Valuables

Keeping track of your valuables on the train should be at the top of your list of things to prepare for your Amtrak trip. We each carry a backpack with our valuables. Rob carries a bigger backpack that has a spot for his camera. Allie carries a smaller bag to carry her valuables as well as a shoulder bag as a purse.

One question you may have is if the sleeper car rooms can be locked from the outside or secured somehow. We have seen a number of ways passengers have tried to secure their rooms when they leave. One thing we have seen is duct tape on the outside of the door. The doors may slide open when you are out of the room. To keep it from sliding open when you are not in the room simply place some duct tape on the door. We have noticed Amtrak staff using this method.

Another way you secure your sleeper car room is with a lock. Not all rooms or train cars have the capacity for a lock. We suggest bringing a small one to bring in case you can use it. While in your room, you have the ability to lock your door from the inside. You can rest easy at night.

If your sleeper car room has a place for a lock it will look like this.

What To Pack In Your Overnight Bag/Complete Guide To Packing For An Amtrak Trip

One thing we strongly suggest to sleeper car passengers is to bring an overnight bag on board with you. We like this bag for two reasons, it’s packable and it’s unattractive. You don’t want to draw attention to your bag and this one fits the bill as well as being easy to fold up and store in your luggage later. Let’s go over what you should have in this bag. There are several parts of your trip to consider when packing your overnight bag. You will want to pack for sleeping, life on the train, electronics and snacks.

Night Time On The Train

If you have any trouble sleeping or getting to sleep we suggest getting ear plugs or noise cancelling ear buds. This will help to filter out the noise and allow you to sleep with ease. I highly recommend the Bose Sleep Buds or you can purchase regular ear plugs. You also need to consider what to wear to bed. Will you wear pajamas or comfortable clothes you can sleep in? Allie wears athleisure pants and top while Rob wears workout shorts and shirt to sleep in. It may be uncomfortable to sleep in pajamas as you may need to leave the room at night. You will also need slippers or sandals to walk in at night.

It can be difficult to try to put on shoes in the middle of the night. Sandals or slippers will be ideal for a bathroom visit at night or to wear in your room for comfort. If you tend to get cold, you will want to bring an extra blanket. Allie packs a sweatshirt to keep her warm. Pillows can be a challenge if you have certain comfort needs so plan accordingly. You can either bring your own pillow on board or purchase a travel pillow to supplement the Amtrak pillow.

Day Time On The Train

When we are not watching America go by through the window, we like to spend time reading. The Kindle Oasis is by far my favorite reading device. It is easy to download books and the ability to adjust the light is perfect for reading at night. A charger is another great item you should have with you. We like this one because we can charge 4 USB items at once. This is very convenient with only one outlet in most sleeper car rooms.

You will also need to bring a change of clothes for your trip. We usually bring one change of shirt for each overnight on the train. You will also need a change of undergarments. Showers are available for use, towels and bar soap are provided. We bring our own hanging toiletries bag for use in the shower and in the bathroom. The shower and bathrooms are small and don’t provide much sink space to put your things. A hanging toiletries bag is ideal for these situations. Don’t forget to pack any medication you may need with your toiletries.

Electronic Needs

There are several electronics to consider when packing for your Amtrak trip. You will likely want to pack a portable charger with you. There is usually only one outlet in a room and it may be in an uncomfortable place. A portable charger is ideal for charging your electronics when you are not near an outlet. It’s also nice for train stations. If you want a smaller portable charger, this one is perfect too.

If you like to take pictures or videos from the train you will want a camera with you. We use the GoPro Hero 10 Black as well as the Joby Suction Mount to have a hands free setup.

Snacks And Other Needs

The great thing about sleeper car accommodations is that your meals are included with your fare. Depending on your route, you will get breakfast, lunch and dinner, whatever corresponds with your journey. You also get unlimited water, juice and soft drinks as well as one alcoholic beverage per ride per person (not per day). You may want a snack at times, we like to keep protein bars on hand. These are our favorites, they travel well and taste great.

A few other things to pack in your overnight bag are cleaning wipes, masks, a shawl and something for motion sickness should you have any issues. Allie has struggled with motion sickness a couple times on the train but these ginger chews really help settle her stomach.

This complete guide to packing for an Amtrak trip will really get your trip started off right. After so many Amtrak trips, we have narrowed down the list of things you need to the above. You will be all set for an amazing journey with these items in your overnight bag.

Allie Marmion
Allie is married to Rob and has been traveling with him across the world for the last two years. She is an accomplished personal trainer, speaker and author.