How to Pack a Sensory Kit for Train Travel

Don’t let sensory issues derail your next adventure.

Rose Ernst
Published in
14 min readJul 16, 2022


Photo by Hari Panicker on Unsplash

“Oh, trains. They’re so full of sweet melancholy.”

If you’ve ever traveled across the United States on Amtrak, my friend’s comment might resonate.

Rusting cars.

Backyards full of children splashing around in little plastic pools on hot summer days.

A cat’s rear end wiggling, ready to pounce on a creature hidden in the grass.

Industrial wastelands.

A cook enjoying a coffee and a cigarette behind the restaurant where they work.

People waving at the train as they paddle down a river.

The gentle rocking, quiet rhythm of the train, and its relentless push forward all add to the sense that you’ve stepped back in time.

Train travel is a unique sensory experience — both stimulating and soothing — and can be enjoyable if you are prepared for it.

I’ve traveled with Amtrak across the United States many times since 1998, sleeping in coach for days and sometimes saving enough Amtrak miles for a sleeper. I’ve also spent plenty of sleepless and restful nights on overnight trains across Europe. Since you can’t be in a hurry, let’s focus on enjoying…