In early 2020, before all of the COVID craziness began, we took a train from Iowa to California. It was a fantastic experience and I loved nearly every part of it. You can click here, to read the original blog post.
I wanted to share some tips that helped us stay comfortable on board, especially since we were on the train for a grand total of four days and four nights. We had our own roomette, so I can’t give advice for traveling with coach tickets, which is a slightly different experience.
According to Amtrak’s website, each passenger is allowed to bring:
-2 Personal items (14x11x7” and 25lbs).
-2 Carry-on items (28x22x14” and 50lbs).
You are also required to have an identification tag with your name and address on your bags.
I would definitely suggest bringing a pillow as one of your personal items. Although they provide pillows on the train they are very small, and they won’t be as comfortable as bringing a full-size one from home.
For my second personal item, I put my purse in a tote bag that had some snacks, my cosmetics bag, my sunglasses, and a card game or two in it. My two carry-ons were a Duffle bag that I used for the trip, and a rolling suitcase for the destination. Since space in a roomette is limited, living out of a smaller Duffel bag during the trip was invaluable. It was so much easier than having to maneuver an actual upright suitcase every day.
You can also check bags, but they are kept in a separate luggage car, and there are a few more rules and steps to take, and I didn’t want to bother with it. I had a lock on my rolling suitcase (that was kept downstairs in the sleeper car with everyone else’s) and I never felt worried about it. Of course, it’s a good idea to keep valuables and anything you can’t live without in the cabin with you, just in case.
Here are some things that came in helpful and I’m glad we packed:
-Bath towel (they have towels by the showers, but like a pillow, your own is better)
-Shower shoes that dry quickly
-Small battery-operated fan
-Card games and travel board games
-Pen and paper or notebook
-Cell phone charger (of course)
-Shoes that can easily go on and off
It also came in handy to have some cash. Since all of your meals are included with a roomette ticket we used this for tipping the staff, buying treats in the snack car, or purchasing souvenirs at a pop-up street market on the platform in Albuquerque.
The temperature for us was very cozy, but if you are cold-blooded you might want to bring a blanket. For me, the hardest part of sleeping was the constant movement. I haven’t figured out how to conquer that yet, but when I do, I will be sure to post it.
One of the best things I did before we left was download the Amtrak mobile app. This was a great way to keep tabs on our departure and arrival times, and it provided a backup record of our tickets, just in case the paper version I printed out didn’t work or got lost.
I hope this article was helpful. If you have any more suggestions be sure to leave a comment below. Bon voyage!