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10 Things To Pack For A Cross Canada Train Trip

Whether you are planning your cross Canada train trip or just dreaming of taking the train across Canada, you are going to want to know what to pack! Taking the cross-Canadian train is a once in a lifetime experience and you are going to want to be prepared. The name of the game is COMFY for the train across Canada! You will be sitting or lounging for long stretches at a time so you don’t want to pack anything that is binding or uncomfortable.

Whether you are taking the Via Rail Toronto to Vancouver train or traveling the entire length of the country starting in Halifax, there are a few must-have items you should bring. No matter what time of year you take your cross Canada train trip, packing these things for your trip will help you be more comfortable on the Canadian train.

Don’t forget to read our post on 15 things to know before taking the train across Canada.

10 Things To Pack For A Cross Canada Train Trip

10 Things To Pack Before Taking The Train Across Canada

#1. A Comfy Cardigan Or Sweater To Help You Stay Cozy For Your Train Trip Across Canada

A comfortable cardigan or sweater is an essential thing to pack for your cross Canada train trip. Whether you are riding the rails during the winter or taking your train through Canada during the summer, you are going to want to bring your favorite cardigan along with you. In the winter, the Canadian train can be a bit drafty when you walk between train cars. It may get a bit chilly from time to time so you want to be relaxed but prepared.

During the summer, the air conditioning will be pumping and the temperature may not always be just where you want it. The cross Canada train can have quite a lot of cars so you don’t want to be cold and stuck far away from your seat or room. Save yourself the trouble and bring your favorite comfortable cardigan or sweater or pick up a new one just for your trip!

10 things to pack for the cross canada train | train across canada packing list

#2 A Pair Of Slip-On Shoes Because You Can’t Only Wear Socks On The Cross Canada Train

As we said above, being comfortable on the train across Canada is super important, especially if you are taking a longer journey such as the Toronto to Vancouver train. We learned the hard way that walking around the Canadian train in just cushy socks is a no-no for safety because your feet may get caught when walking between train cars. Since you aren’t going to want to put on tennis shoes or lace-ups every day, pack a pair of shoes that you can easily slip on to make your trans-Canada train trip more comfortable.

We recommend shoes like this cute and comfy pair for women and shoes like this relaxed style for men. These shoes can be worn with or without socks so depending on how chilly you get, all you have to do is slip your feet right in and go! You can also bring a pair of slippers if you want, as long as you don’t walk around in socks!

#3. A Camera So You Can Capture Your Canadian Train Trip Memories

While this may sound obvious, you are going to want to bring a camera to capture the wonderful memories you are about to have on the cross-Canadian train. If you are hoping to take photos with your smartphone, our smartphone photography tips will help you capture the best shots of the Canadian train and landscapes you pass by. If you choose to only bring a smartphone, make sure that the glass around your camera lens is clean and in good quality so you aren’t upset later if the shots of the amazing Canadian landscape come out bad and your phone is your only option.

If you want a higher quality camera that doesn’t involve lenses are scary settings, we highly recommend the Sony RX 100v. You can shoot on manual and in RAW and it has a really good zoom lens. It also shoots 4K video. You can take some really great photos with it and some professional photographers have sold their big cameras for this pocket-sized genius!

If you are looking to easily capture great photos and video, we highly suggest the GoPro Hero 6. It recently dropped in price and the quality is beyond fantastic! You can easily see your photos on your phone and make little videos of your cross Canada train trip using the app!

10 things to pack for the cross canada train | train across canada packing list

10 things to pack for the cross canada train | train across canada packing list

#4. A Kindle, E-Reader, Or Your Favorite Books To Keep You Company On The Train Through Canada

We aren’t going to lie, there is a lot of downtime on the train across Canada. You would think that this would be boring but it is actually quite fantastic to disconnect and relax! Via Rail Canada has random magazines around for you to pick up, but we recommend downloading your favorite books to your E-Reader before you leave or packing a few of your favorite. Check out some of the best travel books you may want to bring on your train trip! 

We highly recommend signing up for a Kindle Unlimited Free Trial before you head off on your cross Canadian train trip. You can read books on any device using the Kindle app so you don’t need a specific E-reader device! You can download unlimited books onto your smartphone, tablet or more and once you have them downloaded, you can simply cancel your membership! While you are at it, you can download our best-selling E-book for free or for $0.99 without Kindle Unlimited.

There is nothing like the look and feel of a real book in your hands. Pack your favorite, but consider an e-reader to help save you weight and space during the train ride across Canada.

10 things to pack for the cross canada train | train across canada packing list

#5. Pack Earplugs To Help You Get Some Sleep On The Cross Canada Train

To us, the sound the Canadian train made at night was magical and was like getting rocked to sleep! We loved the movement and bumps and rocking motions. If you aren’t sure you will like the white noise, pack some earplugs to help you get some shut-eye. Earplugs are a small and cheap purchase that take a few seconds to buy but can save your sanity when you need them. The train across Canada provides a wonderful white noise for sleeping, but bring earplugs just in case! If you are booking an economy seat, earplugs will be a major bonus in case some people are making too much noise.

#6. A Pair Of Comfortable Pants For Lounging Around The Train

A lot of your time on the cross Canada train will be spent sitting down. While jeans are okay, don’t choose a pair that is restrictive. On the flip side, your favorite around-the-house clothes are wonderfully comfortable but may be too ratty to be seen in public. A nice pair of quality sweatpants in a neutral color such as black is a good option. You may also want to choose hiking pants which can be worn both on and off the Canada train and are breathable and comfortable. For ladies, a pair of leggings and a long and comfortable top is a great pairing option. When packing for the train trip across Canada, remember that comfort is key!

10 things to pack for the cross canada train | train across canada packing list

#7. Antacid Tablets In Case Something Doesn’t Agree With You On The Canadian Train

The food on the Via Rail Canadian Train is delicious! The food is high quality and they offer a diverse menu! That being said, you may try to be adventurous one day while you are riding the cross Canada train. In the event that this doesn’t work in your favor, it is a good idea to pack some antacid tablets since you will be speeding along somewhere in Canada and a store isn’t easily accessible. Antacid tablets are super cheap and a very small thing to fit in your luggage but you will be thankful in the event that you need to use them! You can never be too safe!

10 things to pack for the cross canada train | train across canada packing list

#8. Hand Lotion To Keep Your Hands From Drying Out

No matter what time of year you take your train trip across Canada, the air inside the train has the potential to be quite dry. Bringing your own little bottle of lotion along for your Canadian train ride will ensure that your hands aren’t cracked and painfully dry the entire trip. Keep it with your belongings and just use the lotion as necessary. Your hands will thank you!

10 things to pack for the cross canada train | train across canada packing list

#9. Bring A Small Bag Or Purse To Keep Your Valuables With You At All Times

Believe it or not, the cross-Canadian train is actually quite long and you will walk quite a distance. You are going to want to have your valuables with you such as your ID, Passport, and money in the event you want to buy some liquor onboard. Pack a small cross body purse or small tote bag to carry around these items with you around the Canadian train.

If you want to keep them all in your pockets, make sure that your pockets are deep and secure so that you don’t sit down and something falls out and you miss it! Having a small cross-body purse with us at all times made it easier to leave our room for longer periods at a time and still have chapstick, a phone, and our valuables on hand at all times.

10 things to pack for the cross canada train | train across canada packing list

#10. A Pair Of Sunglasses In Case The View Outside The Canadian Train Gets Too Bright

Sound obvious? You wouldn’t believe the amount of people riding the train across Canada who didn’t pack sunglasses and as a result, had a hard time looking out the window! This is an especially necessary packing tip if you are taking the cross-Canadian train in winter because the snow will be blinding white, especially if the sun is out. You don’t want to pay all this money and travel all that way and arrive on the train across Canada and then not be able to look out the window because the light is too bright. Don’t forget that your eyes can get sunburned too! Protect your eyes and make sure you can see all the stunning views along your cross-Canada train trip by making sure to pack a pair of sunglasses.

10 things to pack for the cross canada train | train across canada packing list

The overall message of packing for your cross Canada train trip is to pack comfortable clothes and to dress in layers so you can easily take on or add pieces. Seeing Canada by train is a once-in-a-lifetime experience and we want to be sure that you are dressed accordingly! Have you taken the train across Canada? What was one thing you packed that you couldn’t have lived without? Let us know about your cross Canada train journey in the comments!

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45 thoughts on “10 Things To Pack For A Cross Canada Train Trip

  1. Pingback: 15 Reasons Why You Should Brave a Canadian Winter - Eat Sleep Breathe Travel

    1. Follow Me Away Post author

      Hello Donna! Thank you for reading!! We cannot wait for you to experience taking the train across Canada! Have so much fun 🙂

  2. Holly

    Some really good tips here. Hoping to travel from Toronto to Vancouver, with a stopover in Winnipeg, when I retire in a few years.

  3. Tony

    Hello All nice to read the blogs
    Would like to ask any body that might know
    We are taking a trip from Toronto to Vancouver
    In August but would like to stop off at various places along the way to stay over night or stay
    A day or two in a place then catch another train and so on to Vancouver Say three stops
    Anybody with any information Thanks

    1. Annmarie

      Hi. I did the Vancouver to Toronto run in 2016. I did get off the train in Jasper and stayed there three nights before taking the next train on to Toronto.

      You can get off…but the trains only run every three days or so meaning if you get off you have to wait until the next train.

    2. Linda

      Call via rail for help With the schedules and stopovers. We have planned a trip for September 2019, and are stopping in Jasper for three days. You have to be careful about how long you stop so that you can be sure to catch the next train through.

  4. Karen

    Great list !!! We are traveling across Canada this Fall for the first time and didn’t think about some of these things. Thanks for much !!!

  5. Kasandra Parkin

    Good Morning,
    I am a senior solo traveler. Does the Canadian offer single cabin accommodation?
    Thank you.
    Kasandra Parkin

    1. Sandra Pover

      Yes! Cozy and comfy. There is a sink and toilet. The toilet is blocked by your bed at night, If needed, you can raise the bed or just go down the aisle to the shared bathroom.
      There are pictures on the website.

    2. robyn

      Hi Kasandra. I am travelling from Vancouver to Toronto on the train in about 10days and yes I have a cabin for one.

  6. Bob Erramilli

    Very informative blog. Me and wife are heading from Atlanta to Vancouver. There to Toronto onboard the Canadian. When – this Friday. Your blog was really handy.

  7. Linda Mercado

    I have a limited mobility problem, I have my walker but no problem walking but going up the stairs is an issue for me. We are seniors, my husband and I are planning to take this Toronto-Vancouver but we do not know where to start or what to do. Is there an itinerary we can get without transferring train. Please help us. We plan to travel this summer. Can you also provide the fares, cabin that you think is reasonable for our needs. Just send me the info on my email. Thank you so much.
    Linda Mercado

    1. Follow Me Away Post author

      Hello Linda! If you call Via Rail, they will be able to help out with all of your needs! The Toronto to Vancouver trip can be done straight with no train transfers. You are able to get around the train without going up stairs at all, if it is a problem, but if you want to sit in one of the “relaxing” cars, there are a few steps you have to go up/down, about 2-3. All of the rooms and the dining car can be accessed from flat ground. We recommend booking in Prestige class. It is more expensive, but otherwise, one of you will have to climb up to the “top bunk” as all of the other rooms are a bunk bed style. The prestige class also allows you to both sleep together in the same bed! We hope this helps a bit!

  8. Mitzi

    Great tips! We’re planning a trip from Toronto to Vancouver in October. Did you guys have enough time to explore some of the stops along the way within the duration of the layover? Do you have any tips for those cities in between?

    1. Follow Me Away Post author

      Yes, if you do the stopover, you will have time! We had 3 days at each stop and it was the perfect amount of time. You have to check the train timetables for the month you go just to be sure. Have fun!

  9. Annmarie

    Excellent and comprehensive list but I would add one more item:

    Something for motion sickness! If you have any problems with motion sickness I suggest the bands you put on your wrists. I took the train from Vancouver to Toronto with a stopover in Jasper. I get seasick in elevators so I was worried about being on a train. I used the wrist bands and I was okay. I know they work because I took them off once and was immediately nauseous.

    1. Follow Me Away Post author

      This is a GREAT tip!!! Neither of us have issues with motion sickness, however, some family members do and we should have thought to add this! Thank you!

  10. Pauline Ward

    We are going on an organised trip from Toronto to Vancouver, then on an Alaska cruise in August. We have spent a lot of money to do this, which includes a cabin on the train, and a few stops. The problem might be, that I didn’t think to ask if we could have a double bed, not bunk beds. My husband and I are both in our seventies, I have difficulty climbing, and my husband has short term memory lose (Dementia). Will the travel agency, we have booked with, have this information, and is there anything we can do, if we are in a cabin with bunk beds. Pauline

    1. Follow Me Away Post author

      Hello Pauline!
      Your trip sounds fantastic! I would recommend calling your travel agent and seeing if your cabin is in the “prestige” class which will be a full size bed. If you ar not in prestige class, see if you can get two neighboring cabins that would be for a family. Some other couples had this when we were traveling and instead of a top and bottom bunk, you will get two bottom bunks and the wall will come down. It is worth calling your agent and having them look into it for you as climbing probably wont be a good idea as it is a bit high! Have so much fun on your trip!

  11. Catherine

    Is there somewhere to charge my iPad and phone and plug in my hairdryer in the Prestige cabin?
    Do they provide toiletries?

  12. Diksha

    Hey ! This post is really interesting . I am a solo traveller and taking a train from Toronto to Vancouver in a couple of weeks. Due to last minute planning I could only get a berth in sleeper VS the single person unit that I was opting for . Any tips besides the ones already mentioned , also do they provide toiletorries for the same category ?

    Also so I have an option of using shower room ?

    1. Follow Me Away Post author

      Yes! The berth sleepers do give you the option of using a shared shower room. Even the single sleepers don’t have a shower so everyone shares. It wasn’t an issue at all! I would call Via Rail as we cannot answer if the sleeper births offer shampoos or not. Calling will sort that out for you!

  13. Karen Hazzard

    Depends on freight trains. They have track priority in Canada so passenger trains must yield….which we did quite often on our trip. Our scheduled stops were shortened to catch up. Wonderful trip regardless!

  14. Marie Kawaguchi

    I must follow a very strict allergen-free diet; if I buy a Prestige ticket, can I be assured the chef will be able to provide allergen-free meals?

  15. Cyndy Charker

    Hi, I’m intending to do the whole across Canada train from Halifax to Vancouver. However, I’m coming from Australia to Hamburg, Germany, cruising from there to Quebec City. Flying back to Halifax so I can do the Cabot Trail. Do you recommend that I pre book all trains or is it real simple easy to book on arrival in Canada?? Any info would be really appreciated. Many thanks

  16. Pingback: 15 Reasons Why You Should Brave a Canadian Winter – Eat Sleep Breathe Travel

  17. Marilyn simpson

    My partner and I are travelling from Toronto to Vancouver in May and then an Alaskan cruise. Is there room in a prestige cabin for 2 large suitcases or should we pack separately for each leg of the trip. We are also flying home after the cruise so luggage becomes a bit of a problem. Also are there hair dryers available in these cabins?

  18. Karen Hazzard

    My husband and I went the opposite way last fall then traveled down the east coast . We had 2 large suitcases and 2 “carry on” size pieces. We had the carry on ones in our cabin and the large ones traveled under the train. I had a small travel hairdryer for the whole trip so dont remember if they had them in the cabins.

  19. Malcolm Parnaby

    Thanks for that information it was useful . I am doing the Toronto Vancouver trip in January 2020. My Wife and I did the trip in September 2008 and vowed to return,sadly my Wife passed away in 2009 so i am doing it in her memory.

  20. Dagmar Rosenberger

    My daughter and I come from Austria and will do the Toronto-Vancouver trip in September. We bought the rail pass to be able to interrupt the trip in Jasper and take the next train to Vancouver. We are only booked in economy class. Is it also possible for us to go to the restaurant and get meals served?
    Many thanks for your answer.

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