One of the best parts of a scenic train ride is doing things solo! But most do know the options for things to do on a train alone. Many also do not know it is one of the most relaxing solo trips you can take.
What do you need to bring on a long train? Will there be Wi-Fi? How will you start conversations to meet new people? Will sitting in the observation car get boring?
All are valid questions. But finding things to do on a train alone is easier than it may seem. Here are some activities to do on a cross-country train solo.
FAQs for what to bring on a long train ride
What to do when on a cross-country train ride?
Figuring out what to do on a cross-country train ride depends on your interests. While you are limited in what you can do, knowing your interests and how they can be done on a moving train is the first step. And it’s also crucial to think about those things you can do solo that don’t require Wi-Fi.
How do you stay occupied on a train?
Once you figure out what you can do on a train ride, especially without Wi-Fi, then it gets interesting. To stay occupied and avoid boredom on a scenic train ride, you need to pack a variety of activities. Consider activities that may use electronics and others that don’t.
Should you find productive things to do on a train?
The point of a long, scenic train ride through the Rocky Mountains, like Amtrak’s California Zephyr, is to enjoy the views. Therefore, it is not necessary to be productive on the train. Relax, do nothing, and take in the scenery instead!
Top 17 train activities for a cross-country train ride
Read a few books
A scenic train ride is the perfect opportunity to read! Whether a physical book or on a Kindle, a cross-country train ride is only complete with a good book. You can read for (literally) days.
Color in a coloring book
Coloring is underrated as one of the things to do on a train alone. There is something about using this time to reconnect with your childhood that makes coloring so much fun. Pack some crayons and your favorite coloring book to see how many pages you can fill up by the end of the ride.
Look out the window
Enjoying the scenic views is one of the top things to do on a train alone. While the view type can depend on the route, remember the views are a huge part of booking the trip. Whether riding through mountains or along the ocean, like Amtrak’s Coast Starlight, sitting in a lounge car for the sights is a must-see activity.
Listening to music and podcasts
If there is an album or a podcast you’ve wanted to listen to, this is the perfect time to download them and do so. Music accompanies the views well on a scenic train ride. And you can binge all the podcasts sitting in your library and latest episodes.
Sleep, sleep, and more sleep
With hours and hours on an overnight train ride, sleeping is a must. Now you don’t want to sleep through the sights on a long scenic train. Yet, there is downtime to get more rest and sleep than ever imagined.
Journal your experience
Most travelers always say we’re going to write down your travel experiences in a journal. But while on the trip, we never have the time on our trips. When thinking of things to do on a train alone, this is one of the easiest. And you will indeed have the time to think, reflect, and write down those solo traveler thoughts.
Paint or draw in the observation car
There is something about seeing a train ride that makes you tap into your inner child and those creative hobbies. Painting or drawing the train scenery, or anything you want, is an excellent activity for a train ride. It feels like art therapy!
Make conversation with other travelers
Just because you are taking the train solo doesn’t mean you must be alone the entire time. There is nothing wrong with wanting to interact with other travelers. Talking about your love of trains, or maybe how this is your first or 50th train ride, are excellent icebreakers to start the conversation.
Binge on a TV show
Oh, nothing like a train ride to cuddle up and watch TV. Between the scenery and mingling with other travelers, binging your favorite TV show is one of the things to do on a train alone. Download a few episodes or a series you’ve been dying to watch.
Organize your email
For those who want to be productive on the train, this activity is for you. There always needs to be a better time to organize those pesky emails. So on a long, cross-country train ride, you have all the time in the world to do so.
Nothing is quite as calming as meditating on a train. Though it’s probably quietest to do in a sleeper car, closing your eyes to white noise on a smooth train is ideal. Just be sure to download the sounds you need before you go!
Watch your favorite movies
Bring your iPad or laptop to make your train ride a movie. Choose three to four films to watch. But remember you must download them beforehand to watch them. And you can pack a hotspot to use your laptop or iPad, though be mindful of how much data you need.
Do a word search or crossword
Similar to road trips, one of the things to do on a train alone to stretch your brain is a word search or crossword. Having a thought-provoking activity helps balance out the other activities. And, of course, if you get frustrated, there’s plenty of time to take a break and then go back to it!
Play card games with other travelers
Card games are one of the things you do not have to do alone on a train! But bringing a deck of cards is a fantastic way to meet new people. It is a great ice breaker when you’re sitting in the observation/lounge car.
Ask the car attendants about other scenic trains
As for the people who ride the train the most, the car attendants are my favorite. Sometimes they know so much about all the other routes in a specific country that you can take after this train ride you are currently on. However, they are not all-knowing, so don’t be surprised if some are more detailed than others.
Clean out your phone
One of the best things to do on a train alone is cleaning out your phone. We always tell ourselves we’re going to do this task, but we need more time and space to do it. An overnight, cross-country train ride is the perfect opportunity.
Vlog your train trip experience
One of the most nontraditional things to do on a train alone is to vlog the experience! Unless you are a content creator or influencer, this is a ridiculous thing to do. But taking videos is a terrific way to remember you, along with taking photos.
What to wear on a long train ride
You want to be comfortable while doing all these things on a train alone! A cross-country train ride is no time for heels and fancy clothes. So here are some things to wear on an overnight train experience.
You want your feet to breathe a little on long train rides. Slip-on shoes make taking them on and off easy during the overnight train ride. Bringing extra socks and footies to keep those toes fresh is also a good idea.
Temperatures on trains can vary – that’s why layers are essential! Leggings, shorts, and biker shorts are a few train travel essentials. But it’s best to plan based on the season you’re traveling in and the locations you may pass through as their weather may make the train hotter or colder. Layers came in handy on my scenic train trip in Mexico!
Sleepwear for sleeper car passengers
For train travelers in a sleeper car, sleepwear is necessary. You want to be comfortable in your bed, in the observation car/lounge, and if you are just sitting in your room. Therefore, bringing pajamas, an eye pillow, and slippers make the long ride more comfortable.
What is the best thing to do on a train alone? Relax
Some people are still restless after finding all the things to do on a train alone. Many of us are used to always being on the go. But a scenic train ride makes us slow down.
I suggest relaxing on a train. Take a breath. Just sit and look out the window. Do not worry about work or kids. Refrain from obsessing over the best view in the lounge.
Train rides have a way of forcing travelers to relax since they cannot go anywhere for hours. Take in the experience and bask in the stillness. Trying to fight it will only make it worse! Besides, you have all those things to do on a train alone – so pick one and enjoy.
Ready to make your train ride smoother? Check out these train travel hacks!