Packing question

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Suze10860

Train Attendant
Joined
Feb 2, 2020
Messages
40
I'm looking at my Amtrak packing as falling somewhere between the crazy (bring it all) philosophy I have when taking a road trip, and the minimalist (I hate to pay checked bag fees) philosophy I have on the very rare occasion that I fly.

We're in a roomette, and I notice that many people suggest bringing a pillow and blanket. Do you guys bring a full size pillow and blanket with you? I always do in the car, but I feel that it might be a bit bulky to lug through the train stations. But I do love having my own pillow and blanket with me. Such an internal struggle!

Advice? Thanks all.
 

Bob Dylan

Conductor
Joined
May 31, 2009
Messages
18,931
I'm looking at my Amtrak packing as falling somewhere between the crazy (bring it all) philosophy I have when taking a road trip, and the minimalist (I hate to pay checked bag fees) philosophy I have on the very rare occasion that I fly.

We're in a roomette, and I notice that many people suggest bringing a pillow and blanket. Do you guys bring a full size pillow and blanket with you? I always do in the car, but I feel that it might be a bit bulky to lug through the train stations. But I do love having my own pillow and blanket with me. Such an internal struggle!

Advice? Thanks all.
You wont really need a Blanket in a Sleepet( the SCA can give you a second one if you need it)but a Travel/Camping Pillow ( there are many on offer ) can come in handy since Amtrak pillows aren't the Best.

When riding Coach your Pillow and a Fleece Blanket or throw will come in handy and are easy to pack/carry.
 

tricia

OBS Chief
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Aug 23, 2011
Messages
946
Remember that roomettes are small--not room for a whole lot of luggage, esp. if two of you are sharing the space.
 

Maglev

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Sep 4, 2016
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833
I bring a full-size pillow and a throw-size blanket. The pillow compacts quite a bit, so they both fit in a duffle bag that rides on the handle of my rollaboard when I travel alone. On my last overnight trip, I was lucky to have my wife with me, so we were in a Bedroom. I brought two pillows and two blankets in a full-size suitcase.
 

Skyline

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Joined
Feb 19, 2016
Messages
649
I'm looking at my Amtrak packing as falling somewhere between the crazy (bring it all) philosophy I have when taking a road trip, and the minimalist (I hate to pay checked bag fees) philosophy I have on the very rare occasion that I fly.

We're in a roomette, and I notice that many people suggest bringing a pillow and blanket. Do you guys bring a full size pillow and blanket with you? I always do in the car, but I feel that it might be a bit bulky to lug through the train stations. But I do love having my own pillow and blanket with me. Such an internal struggle!

Advice? Thanks all.

You may want to consider an inflatable pillow like the one I've linked here. I mostly use it while backpacking, but if I have it in my backpack on a train trip I'll use it there also. Very compact and functional.

https://www.amazon.com/Trekology-Ultralight-Inflatable-Camping-Travel/dp/B07MJQD8Y8/ref=sr_1_4?keywords=inflatable+backpacking+pillow&qid=1582907548&s=sporting-goods&sr=1-4
 

bratkinson

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Joined
Aug 7, 2004
Messages
791
In the last 7-8 years, I've tried perhaps 4 or 5 different inflatable pillows and found they usually started to leak the 3rd or 4th time used, and I never inflate them to maximum. Some have difficult to use 'pinch to use' valves, and some far easier.

What I finally settled on 3 or 4 years ago was these at Amazon https://www.amazon.com/Lewis-N-Clark-Ultimate-Comfort/dp/B07GLGDFWX/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=lewis+n+clark+comfort+set&qid=1582910129&sr=8-1 Not only is it a fuzzy on one side/sheetlike material on the other side covered inflatable pillow (the cover easily comes off for washing. However, after 4 washings, it's not as fuzzy as it used to be), but it also contains a 50"x38" soft blanket inside! It also comes with ear plugs and eye shield as well, that I just throw away. In the 3 years or so I've owned them (I have 3 and use them each overnight trip), I figure I've inflated them about 50 times all together. Without a doubt, these are the toughest, most durable inflatable pillows I've ever encountered. Unfortunately, one of them developed a slow leak 2 trips ago, so I'll try a bicycle inner tube patch kit and see if that works. They're also the easiest to inflate/deflate, as there's no obstruction/pinch-to-use valve. I simply pinch it to keep the air from leaking out before I can quickly push the attached plug in the hole. It looks like Amazon doesn't stock them any longer, but they're available elsewhere. Simply Google them.

Why 3 of these pillows? Due to digestive issues, have to sleep with my torso slightly elevated. So I either make up the lower bunk as a chaise-lounge with a 4" gap between, or pile up the inflatable pillows and blankets to give me the lift I need. A couple of times, I used one of the blankets in addition to the one in the roomette to stay warm as in-room heating/cooling 'control' in Superliners is slow to react and not very effective.

As for packing, I keep the blankets separately from the inflatable pillows as it gives me more flexibility to divide them between a rolling airplane-carryon size bag and a large 'gym bag' which is all I take with me, even for a 10-12 day trip as I count on using a laundromat somewhere along the way, hopefully in the hotel I'm staying at. I've also learned to find smaller sized bathroom items from deoderant to hair dryer to maximize packing space.
 

Palmland

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Joined
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Messages
756
We’re in the minimalist camp. Have never checked a bag on Amtrak. If it doesn’t fit in the roller bag it doesn’t go. Two exceptions- for an extended 2-3 week trip we’ll include a backpack with electronics and outer wear. Other exception- a bottle of wine. That’s becoming increasingly important on Amtrak.
 

caravanman

Conductor
Joined
Mar 22, 2004
Messages
3,581
You have a pillow and blanket provided in a sleeper, I assume the advice to bring your own is more for coach passengers. We used to get a pillow in coach some years back, but I think that has stopped?

Ed.
 

Suze10860

Train Attendant
Joined
Feb 2, 2020
Messages
40
You have a pillow and blanket provided in a sleeper, I assume the advice to bring your own is more for coach passengers. We used to get a pillow in coach some years back, but I think that has stopped?

Ed.
Actually, it seems that some people in sleepers do still bring their own additional blanket and/or pillow. I hadn't thought of doing it until I read the recommendations from quite a few to include them on a packing list for a sleeper trip.

Personally, I think I'll probably be OK without. My main concern was with feeling cold (I do all the time) but knowing I can ask for a second blanket is reassuring. While I'm sure the Amtrak pillow isn't great, I don't think it will be a problem for me.
 

Dakota 400

Conductor
Joined
Mar 5, 2014
Messages
1,522
Personally, I would never pack a pillow or blanket unless I needed to do for some personal reason. Or, for that matter, any additional bedding linens. An additional blanket or two, the SCA should be able to supply that; if the sleeper is not full; the SCA ought to be able to supply an additional pillow or two. On my most recent trip in a Roomette on the Auto Train, Holly gave me the pillow for the upper berth. The two of them were all that I needed.
 

Rasputin

OBS Chief
Joined
Jan 17, 2019
Messages
606
If I recall correctly each passenger gets two pillows in a roomette. We have never brought our own pillows or blankets but a sleep mask is highly recommended.
 
Joined
Feb 28, 2020
Messages
14
Memory foam pillow compacts 70%. I bring pillow case to every hotel, and travel towel, and my own sheet incase the one at hotel looks nasty. But I stay at cheapest hotels that exist
 

tricia

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Joined
Aug 23, 2011
Messages
946
If you tend to feel cold, best to bring sweatpants and a comfortable sweater or fleece jacket to sleep in if need be. Temperature inside the train can vary, and often can't be adjusted precisely.
 

SarahZ

Conductor
Joined
May 8, 2011
Messages
7,982
I never bring a pillow. If you’re traveling alone, you still get two pillows in your room. If you need an extra blanket, the car attendant can bring one to you.

I’m also in the minimalist camp. If it doesn’t fit in my small carry-on, it doesn’t come with me.
 

Skyline

OBS Chief
Joined
Feb 19, 2016
Messages
649
In the last 7-8 years, I've tried perhaps 4 or 5 different inflatable pillows and found they usually started to leak the 3rd or 4th time used, and I never inflate them to maximum. Some have difficult to use 'pinch to use' valves, and some far easier.

What I finally settled on 3 or 4 years ago was these at Amazon https://www.amazon.com/Lewis-N-Clark-Ultimate-Comfort/dp/B07GLGDFWX/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=lewis+n+clark+comfort+set&qid=1582910129&sr=8-1 Not only is it a fuzzy on one side/sheetlike material on the other side covered inflatable pillow (the cover easily comes off for washing. However, after 4 washings, it's not as fuzzy as it used to be), but it also contains a 50"x38" soft blanket inside! It also comes with ear plugs and eye shield as well, that I just throw away. In the 3 years or so I've owned them (I have 3 and use them each overnight trip), I figure I've inflated them about 50 times all together. Without a doubt, these are the toughest, most durable inflatable pillows I've ever encountered. Unfortunately, one of them developed a slow leak 2 trips ago, so I'll try a bicycle inner tube patch kit and see if that works. They're also the easiest to inflate/deflate, as there's no obstruction/pinch-to-use valve. I simply pinch it to keep the air from leaking out before I can quickly push the attached plug in the hole. It looks like Amazon doesn't stock them any longer, but they're available elsewhere. Simply Google them.

Why 3 of these pillows? Due to digestive issues, have to sleep with my torso slightly elevated. So I either make up the lower bunk as a chaise-lounge with a 4" gap between, or pile up the inflatable pillows and blankets to give me the lift I need. A couple of times, I used one of the blankets in addition to the one in the roomette to stay warm as in-room heating/cooling 'control' in Superliners is slow to react and not very effective.

As for packing, I keep the blankets separately from the inflatable pillows as it gives me more flexibility to divide them between a rolling airplane-carryon size bag and a large 'gym bag' which is all I take with me, even for a 10-12 day trip as I count on using a laundromat somewhere along the way, hopefully in the hotel I'm staying at. I've also learned to find smaller sized bathroom items from deoderant to hair dryer to maximize packing space.
You have far more experience testing gear than I do, at least as it regards pillows. But I found an inflatable pillow that works for me on the second try, and it's never leaked. Probably 60+ nights in the backcountry (tenting) and several nights on trains with the current pillow.

I empathize with you Re: digestive issues. I'm thinking it might be acid reflux exacerbated by sleeping horizontal -- like me? In a tent, that's easy to fix by selecting a tentsite with my head somewhat elevated. But your solutions on trains intrigue me.

My choice for "luggage" is a 40L or 55L backpack, depending on duration of trip and whether I'll be doing any backpacking during the journey. Easy to pack once you get the knack, definitely easier to carry so long as I keep weight under 30#, and it can stand up vertically on the floor in a corner of a bedroom or at the end of the bed in a roomette. Also fits horizontally on a luggage rack if coach. I keep most items I'm going to need fast and frequent access to near the top.
 

MARC Rider

Conductor
Joined
Apr 5, 2011
Messages
1,643
I'm actually fine with the pillows and blankets they provide in the sleepers. I didn't realize that they would give you extra blankets if you ask. Usually, if I get cold, I just turn up the heat. When I traveled overnight in coach, I brought a stadium blanket and a pair of eyeshades. I just rolled up my jacket and used that for a pillow, leaning against the window. When I flew to China (similar to overnight in coach), I didn't even bother with a blanket, I just wrapped myself in my fleece and used the eyeshades. I also didn't get a whole lot of sleep. :)

Unless, I'm bringing sports gear (likes skis and snowshoes or camping equipment), I don't bother to check my bags. I travel with a daypack and an L.L. Bean roller duffle. This is the flat one that I don't think they sell anymore, a 2-wheeler about the size of a decent-sized suitcase. This fits perfectly well on the shelf by the roomette, although it's a bit more of a problem in the superliner roomettes that have a mini-closet, rather than the open indented area with a hangar bar. There's usually a strap with a buckle that I use on the top handle of the roller bag to keep it upright. The daypack goes on the shelf that also serves as a step to the upper bunk. When I travel with my wife on a viewliner, she checks her small roller bag (airline carry-on size) as she doesn't want to bother with hoisting the thing up into the Viewliner suitcase cubby. In superliners, if it's too big to fit in the roomette, we just leave it downstairs on the baggage rack. When traveling coach, my roller bag fits very well on the overhead rack and in the luggage racks at the end of the car.
 

Qapla

OBS Chief
Joined
Jul 15, 2019
Messages
750
When we go to Raleigh this summer (Coronavirus allowing) we will check our bags for the most part. It is only an overnight trip and we will be riding coach. By checking the bags we don't have to worry about lugging them into and out of the train - or hoisting them into the luggage area ... we are staying in Raleigh for a week so we will need a fair amount of clothes.

We have the choice of two stations to leave from - but only one of them has checked luggage so, even though it is a little further of a drive, we will leave from JAX.
 

MccfamschoolMom

Train Attendant
Joined
Feb 28, 2020
Messages
57
The LL Bean medium roller duffle we got for our daughter as a Christmas present her senior year of college was the largest size the customer reviews recommended for air travel as checked baggage. (And back then we thought she might be attending an East Coast college and would need to fly there and back each year.) We subsequently got her an LL Bean small non-roller duffle, which she often used for trips home during the year while in college (both by car and on Amtrak's Lincoln Service in coach). I think I'd agree that the small version of LL Bean's roller duffle would make a great carryon bag for either air or rail travel. (My husband and I currently each own a small (non-LL Bean, non-roller) duffle bag, which we use for short vacations (1 shared duffle for overnight, 2 duffles + garment bag for 3 nights at a convention). Maybe we should upgrade to small roller duffles, or at least find luggage carts they can attach to which would fold up compactly.)
I'm actually fine with the pillows and blankets they provide in the sleepers. I didn't realize that they would give you extra blankets if you ask. Usually, if I get cold, I just turn up the heat. When I traveled overnight in coach, I brought a stadium blanket and a pair of eyeshades. I just rolled up my jacket and used that for a pillow, leaning against the window. When I flew to China (similar to overnight in coach), I didn't even bother with a blanket, I just wrapped myself in my fleece and used the eyeshades. I also didn't get a whole lot of sleep. :)

Unless, I'm bringing sports gear (likes skis and snowshoes or camping equipment), I don't bother to check my bags. I travel with a daypack and an L.L. Bean roller duffle. This is the flat one that I don't think they sell anymore, a 2-wheeler about the size of a decent-sized suitcase. This fits perfectly well on the shelf by the roomette, although it's a bit more of a problem in the superliner roomettes that have a mini-closet, rather than the open indented area with a hangar bar. There's usually a strap with a buckle that I use on the top handle of the roller bag to keep it upright. The daypack goes on the shelf that also serves as a step to the upper bunk. When I travel with my wife on a viewliner, she checks her small roller bag (airline carry-on size) as she doesn't want to bother with hoisting the thing up into the Viewliner suitcase cubby. In superliners, if it's too big to fit in the roomette, we just leave it downstairs on the baggage rack. When traveling coach, my roller bag fits very well on the overhead rack and in the luggage racks at the end of the car.
 

Qapla

OBS Chief
Joined
Jul 15, 2019
Messages
750
When I went to NY from JAX I used a roller case that fit Amtrak's carry-on specs. I also took a duffel that I used a bungee to hold it to the extended handle so I could roll both bags. When the conductor saw my bags she if I was sure they were not over the weight limit. When I told her that, when I unstrapped them they weren't - she just smiled and said "OK" while I popped the bungee off so they could be loaded desperately. They both fit in the overhead. I bungeed them back together when I got off the train at NYP before leaving the platform.
 
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