Ultimate European Train Travel Packing List

European Train Travel Packing List

The following European train travel packing list has been brought to you by Tatiana Warkentin. See all packing list posts here.

I live in Switzerland which means I live in the middle of everywhere! Fantastic European cities are just a train ride away. Milan is only 4 hours, Salzburg is 6 hours and Berlin is 8 hours. It makes globetrotting easy but packing for it can be interesting. When traveling by train in Europe you need to approach your packing like you’re packing a carry-on bag. Not only will you have to hoist your bag onto the train from the platform you may find yourself hoisting it above your head if all the prime luggage storage is taken. So think light when you’re packing your bag for your European train adventure.

More importantly though consider what you’re going to do with yourself all day on a train. Here’s what I usually throw in my messenger bag to keep me occupied and comfortable.


Ereader: Long train rides are a great time to catch up on your reading!

Emergency Book: I know it seems redundant but always plan for the worst case scenario of not wanting to read anything you have stored on your Ereader. Trust me, it happens. I recommend a guide book for your final destination city.

Ipod/mp3 player: I like loud music as much as the next traveler but keep in mind some train cars are designated quiet cars so look for signs (usually a person making a shushing motion) and make sure you adjust your volume accordingly.

Comfort Items

Snacks: Food on trains can be expensive. So make sure you bring snacks, fruit and maybe even a sandwich on board so save yourself some money.

Two bottles of water: Train air is dry so hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Sometimes if you ask nicely they’ll even refill it for you in the dining car if there is potable water on tap.

Sleeping mask: Especially nice for the 7 am train from Bern to Milan and you’re not quite finished sleeping yet.

Sweater/fleece/hoodie: Super nice if you’re sitting close to one of the doors that will be opening and closing quite a bit.

Personal Items

Wet wipes: Always take them with you to the bathroom. Last thing you want is to end up in the one without toilet paper. They’re also a lifesaver if you have a run in with something sticky in the dining car.

Hand sanitizer: Take that to the bathroom along with your wet wipes. Just trust me.

Underarm Deodorant wipes: After 8 hours on a stuffy train you’ll be feeling less than fresh these will revive you at the end of your journey.

Tech Gear

Laptop: The options are endless, movies, games, there’s even internet browsing if you’re lucky enough to get a train with wireless.

Cables and chargers: No matter what class you’re in there is always a place to plug in.

Digital Camera: Long train rides are a great opportunity to play with your shutter speed settings and panning skills.

European/universal plug converter: Don’t pack this in your luggage, keep it handy.


Passport: You can pass into another country without much warning so make sure you have your passport on you when you’re moving about the train. Same goes for your train ticket.

Super extra special bonus optional item

zuca bagA Zuca Bag: This is the bag I opt to take with me on all my train journeys when it’s not full of my roller derby gear. It’s light, it rolls (and the wheels light up), it fits in the overhead compartments AND it doubles as a chair.

Yes, you read that right.

The aluminum frame on the bag allows you to use your piece of luggage as a chair. I’ve used it on train platforms while waiting and on a crowded replacement train after I had to unexpectedly change trains when there was a problem further down the line. Needless to say I was glad I brought my own chair!

>> Check out the Zuca Bag on Amazon.

About the Author: Tatiana Warkentin is former fundraising professional turned writer/blogger over at The Dubious Hausfrau who moved to Switzerland from Manitoba, Canada with her husband in July 2011. She writes about everything from learning to love kayaking to trying to find brown sugar in the grocery store. When she isn’t writing she is an explorer and adventurer finding time to hike, tour chocolate factories and, fall in love with the view of the mountains from her balcony. Follow her on twitter: @TatianaLouise.

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Gear We Use


Packing Cubes – Organize your luggage with the lightweight, durable and compressible Eagle Creek Pack-It Specter Compression Cubes.

Backpacks + Daypacks

Pacsafe – Since they come with extra theft-resisting features, Pacsafe bags make you a more confident traveler. We especially love this bag.

Sea to Summit – Of all the Sea to Summit products, our most recommended is the fits-in-your-palm, super packable Ultra-Sil Daypack.

Personal Care

Nalgene Toiletry Bottles – These leak-free toiletry bottles and tubs come in all sizes – even super tiny, helping minimalists pack it all without bulk.

Turkish Towels – They’re thinner than most travel towels, and they actually cover your body! We can’t get enough of Turkish towels for travel.


Speakeasy Supply Co. – They make the awesome hidden pocket infinity scarves that are perfect for stashing secret cash, lip balms, and passports.

Anatomie – Anatomie travel pants come with luxury prices, but they offer many benefits for travelers. See our review of the famous Skyler pants.

Travel Resources

Booking Airfare

Dollar Flight Club – Get flight deal alerts for your preferred departure airport. There is both a free and premium version (recommended for more sweet deals). Members save on average $500 USD per flight!

Skyscanner – Skyscanner is our preferred site for searching flights. They offer unbiased search results and are free from hidden fees. You can also book your hotels and rental cars.


Airbnb – Airbnb is the best place to book out apartments around the world. Sign up using this link to get $37 USD off your first stay booking + $14 USD towards an experience booking!

Booking.com – Search for hotels, hostels, and apartments using this one resource. Use it for flights, car rentals, and airport taxis as well.

Hostelworld – For hostels, Hostelworld remains our number one source for booking stays. Choose from straight up hostels, budget hotels and bed and breakfasts.

Trusted Housesitters – Save money on travel accommodation by becoming a housesitter. Housesitters often have extra duties, like caring for pets and gardens.

Reader Interactions


  1. Brittany says

    My husband and I will be in Switzerland for seven weeks this summer while he completes an internship. He will be working during the week so I’m looking forward to many weekend trips by train! This list is perfect!

    Thank you, Brooke!


  1. […] I typically choose overland travel when possible because I usually have time to spare, but not money. Past experiences have included an overnight bus between Agnes Water and Airlie Beach, Australia, a 9 hour train ride across Germany and an overnight bus from Atlanta to New Orleans here in the US. My next mistake adventure will be taking a bus from Atlanta to Toronto, Canada. Needless to say, these experiences have turned me into an old pro when it comes to finding what to pack for long overland journeys, whether by car, bus or train. […]

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