14 Must-Pack Items For Your Train Trip

Considering how affordable and quick plane rides are, many adventurers choose to book flights when they go on vacation. This has left train travel somewhat neglected, though not forgotten. The reality is that this form of transportation offers you a ground view of scenery, and it also allows you to slow down and appreciate the smaller details of life. Plus, it doesn't make sense to fly to some destinations, or there just aren't any flights out there.

Regardless, you've nabbed yourself a ticket for an upcoming outing and are excited about what's to come. However, if you don't prepare for your time in the carriage, a positive experience can quickly turn sour. Even a short one-hour journey can feel endless without certain comforts.

To avoid an unpleasant time, don't make the same mistakes others have made. Instead, draw from a seasoned train rider's experiences and stock up on the essentials you should pack for your train trip.

Tickets, ID, and important documents

It might sound painfully obvious that you need to pack your tickets, ID, and other important documents, but you'd be surprised at just how many people forget to bring these things along. When you're in a rush doing last-minute packing, it's easy to forget the most vital items, especially since they're small and compact. This is why they should be the first to go in your bag.

It can be a good idea to get a solid folder to put all these papers in. That way, they're in one place and harder to lose since the folder's much larger, and you'll notice immediately if you misplace it. There are even special products specifically designed to keep your passport safe.

Research your destination and see what it requires for travel documents, particularly if you're crossing borders. Having your itinerary and hotel reservations can help, too. You never know if authorities want to check the legitimacy of your travel plans.


If you take prescription medication, then it's imperative that you have your medicine with you. Count out the days you'll be gone, then add one or two extra in case you lose your pills or have to unexpectedly extend your stay. From there, you can multiply by the number of pills you have to take, then figure out a total to bring. A small and basic first aid kit with over-the-counter medications can also be beneficial, as well as bandages, burn cream, antibiotic ointment, gloves, and other essentials.

No matter what you take on your trip, research the laws for the countries and jurisdictions you're passing through. Make an appointment with your doctor to see if you can get an extra prescription or refill in case you run out early. You should also check whether or not you can have these medications in other countries, and if you're allowed, have your doctor write an official letter to avoid legal issues.

Snacks and beverages

Your stomach might grumble at any time, and being hangry while stuck in a train will spoil the entire mood. Depending on the time of day you travel, it's possible to get hungry on even the shortest trips, so you want to be prepared. It's better to have more food on hand than not have food at all, of course.

On some trains, there are restaurant carriages where you can buy some sustenance. This can come in handy if you can't pack much food (or none at all) and want to avoid dealing with a grumbling tummy on your journey. However, do note that products are often more expensive on board since there's a captive audience, so expect to shell out a good chunk of change.

If you want to save some money, create a list of your favorite foods and beverages, then purchase them at your local grocery store for the cheapest prices possible. Pack things like chip clips, napkins, utensils, and straws to make eating and drinking more convenient. Bringing a reusable coffee mug can also be useful, as you can then pour larger drink cartons or bottles into a more manageable container.


Some rail journeys can be longer than plane rides, especially when you take overnight trains. Plus, there's a tendency to feel grimy when trapped in an enclosed space. To look and feel your best, bring a small toiletries bag with all the essentials, such as a toothbrush, toothpaste, mouthwash, wet wipes, facial tissues, and hand sanitizer.

If you wear makeup or have a skincare routine, grabbing these products is vital. You might not be able to perform every step in your usual routines since space is limited, but it'll be better than nothing. And if you're worried about making a mess, then be sure to follow expert advice on packing makeup in your toiletry bag.

Even if your travel time is short, it is still worth packing a toiletries bag. The bathrooms on board trains aren't known for being very clean, and they often run out of supplies. Having some facial tissues and hand sanitizer in your arsenal can be a lifesaver when there's no toilet paper left, the sink's not working, and there's no soap or paper towels.

Comfortable clothing

Even with thorough research, it's hard to predict how hot or cold a compartment will be. The air conditioning may be broken on your leg of the journey or the whole train, a fellow passenger may leave a window wide open, or you may get ill and feverish at a moment's notice. The key is to dress in layers and be prepared for any situation. Otherwise, you might be stuck shivering or sweating for the whole trip, and you will only be able to do something about it once you step off.

Additional items you should bring that you can add or remove from your outfit include slippers, scarves, and thin cardigans. If you're traveling in the winter or going somewhere cold, a heavy jacket or coat can double as a blanket. The most amazing thing about these belongings is they won't take up additional room in your bags, as you'll need them at your destination anyway. Shuffling around these pieces as needed will be a wise move!

Headphones or wireless earbuds

Depending on your compartment and how your fellow passengers behave, you might be in a noisy environment. Anything from a quiet conversation to loud eating or shows and music being blasted through smartphone speakers can be annoying. This is why you shouldn't go anywhere without fabulous headphones or wireless earbuds.

With these devices, you'll drown out the most irritating sounds. In addition, you can listen to your favorite tracks or podcasts. These can set the mood and create an atmosphere that amplifies the sceneries you're seeing out the window. It may even inspire you to jot down some thoughts for a poem or story.

For the best hearing health, you should stick to headphones. Understandably, you may think earbuds are a more attractive choice since they're small and compact, making them easy to carry around. However, modern headphones are sleek, and some also have folding capabilities. Simply slide them into a case, and they'll fit into your bag with no issue.

Sleep aids

One inspiring advantage of taking the train is the gorgeous scenery you get to admire passing by while you relax in your seat. However, there's only so much your eyes can take, and nightfall is never far away. Whether you want to catch a quick nap or get a full night's sleep, having access to the right items can mean the difference between waking up a cranky, painful mess and awakening feeling refreshed.

If you can't fall asleep with random noises around you, then earplugs are a must. These won't completely block out sounds, but they'll dampen them significantly so you won't be startled or bothered. Alternatively, you can use your headphones or earbuds to keep sounds out. Speaking of blocking out stuff, you should also take an eyemask with you. Trains usually have bright lights that can keep you awake when trying to drift off.

For maximum comfort, bring a travel pillow. This will keep your neck from cramping up when your head inevitably drops down at unnatural angles while you're snoozing. If you don't have one, then you can swap your travel neck pillow for the neck brace if you've already got one from a previous injury.


Do you feel like life is too hectic, and you never have free time for your hobbies? Do you have a growing book list that you've barely gotten through? Then it's about time you took action and tackled this issue. Train rides are perfect for catching up on some reading, as you'll be nestled into a seat with a fantastic outside view. With your trusty thermos full of hot coffee, you'll escape into your books, and the hours will fly by quickly.

You may not have enough room in your luggage or bags for books, though, especially if they're larger and thicker tomes. But with today's advanced technology, that's no excuse. There are affordable e-readers you can buy and then download ebooks to fill your digital library. These devices are also better for you since some use e-ink that reduces eye strain. If you've already got an LCD e-reader, the potential for eye strain is higher, as there's more screen glare. To mitigate this, wear glasses that have blue light filtering.

Handheld gaming console

Listening to podcasts and reading books can be fun, but you might find yourself bored within an hour or so if you don't have a long attention span. To keep yourself entertained on a longer journey, consider bringing a handheld gaming console, such as the Nintendo Switch or Steamdeck.

No matter which device you choose, there are scores of game titles to choose from. Whether you like roleplaying games (RPGs) or puzzles, you can download or purchase hard copies for your upcoming trip. There are even free options. If you have a Nintendo Switch Online subscription, then you'll have more access to their games library.

Brand-name handheld gaming consoles may be too expensive for many households, but that doesn't mean you have to miss out. There are various budget-friendly options from lesser-known companies that can still provide you with hours of entertainment. For example, you'll often find keychain games at stores like Walmart for a few bucks.


This might sound like a no-brainer since practically everyone walks around glued to their smartphones. It's good to unplug from the online world, but for a train ride, a smartphone is a necessity.

Long gone are the days of printing out tickets; today, you can open up a digital version on your smartphone to scan quickly as you go through the turnstiles. Not only that, but you can check the day's schedule and see if there are any delays, which is excellent for peace of mind if you have transfers. In addition, you can keep all your important files together in one place for easy access, such as your travel itinerary, confirmation of your accommodations, and attraction tickets.

More importantly, a smartphone consolidates a lot of the items listed previously. For instance, it can function as your camera, gaming console, music player, e-reader, and more. If you don't have much room in your bags, then a compact smartphone can tick a lot of boxes in one go.


If you don't have a smartphone or think the screen's too small to get anything productive done, bring a laptop along to be your all-in-one device. You can download TV shows, movies, podcasts, and video games to occupy your time. If your train has Wi-Fi, you can stream many of the above to conserve your laptop's memory space. Just be sure to use your headphones or earbuds, so you don't bother other passengers.

Those fortunate enough to have remote jobs can also get some work done. This is an outstanding way to recoup financial losses from taking this trip. Plus, being in a different environment may spark new ideas, so give it a try if you're feeling stale and stuck at work.

Again, make sure to be considerate of others if you plan on working on board. If you need to take business calls (whether on your phone or laptop), sit in non-quiet carriages or move to a suitable area for the call. Consider booking first-class tickets to be away from large and noisy groups of people.

Chargers and power banks

Without a source of power, your devices are sure to die with enough usage. A 100% charge might be fine for a one-hour journey, but what if you forget to charge your phone the night before? Or what if there are massive delays, and your short trip turns into a five-hour slog? Having to ration out the charge on your devices won't be fun or convenient, which is why you should never forget to bring a portable charger when traveling. Not all trains have charging ports, and the ones you find may not work either.

To keep unruly charger cables tangle-free, coil them separately, then stuff the wires into toilet paper tubes. Label the outsides of the tubes so you know exactly what's inside. Toss them into a clear plastic zip-lock bag to reduce rummaging even further.

As for the power banks, there are cheap ones available, but those are usually bulkier and less powerful. It's worth spending a little extra on something sleeker that'll charge your phone completely from 0% at least once. To figure that out, find out what your phone battery's capacity is (this should be in terms of mAh). Divide the power bank's capacity by that number, and that'll equal how many times you can charge your phone until the bank's depleted.

Reusable shopping bags

You never know what you'll pick up on your adventures. If your luggage and bags are already stuffed to the brim from the beginning, then it'll be challenging to juggle various boxes as you move along the rails. It only takes one forgetful moment to leave something behind, and if it's a treasured souvenir, it'll be a huge blow.

Do yourself a favor and stuff a few reusable shopping bags into your luggage. Some also have keychains so you can clip them onto your backpack without taking up precious room. While you're on the train, you can collect trash or train purchases in them, or you can use the bags as organizers for belongings you need often. When you reach your destination, you can dump the trash in one fell swoop, then refold the shopping bags to stash away. In addition, you can use the bags for shopping across multiple days without adding to your carbon footprint.

Personal comfort items

Traveling on the rails can be scary and anxiety-inducing, especially if it's your first time on a train. Add in cities you've never been to before, and it's enough to make anyone nervous. Doing research prior to the big day can make you feel better, such as finding out what carriages are available on your train and what activities are at your destination. However, you can take it one step further by bringing personal comfort items.

These things will be heavily personalized based on the individual, so one person's selection will look vastly different from another's. But here are some suggestions to get you started: a soft scarf, your journal, a thin blanket, your favorite hoodie, and stim toys.

Think about what you can't live without at home, and you'll be off to a great start. Jot these things down on a list so you won't forget them. That way, you can use the items up until the last day and then safely store them away in your backpack.