What does one pack for a luxury train journey through the Rocky Mountains? I’m so used to air travel in wretched coach class, I wasn’t quite sure how to approach a two-day train trip in famed GoldLeaf Service on the legendary Rocky Mountaineer train. Top hat? Ball gown? Dungarees?
Suitcases are transported magically from your originating hotel in the morning to your room at the destination hotel in the evening. This means you never have to cart luggage on and off the train – it just appears in the evenings and disappears in the mornings. (Can I please have GoldLeaf Service every where I go?) Each passenger is allowed two suitcases with a maximum of 66 pounds.
Your magically disappearing and reappearing checked luggage is not accessible once you’re on the train, so be sure to pack a small carry-on with everything you need for an 8-10 hour non-stop adventure – medication, glasses, a book (though I couldn’t tear my eyes away from the scenery to focus on reading!), sweater, lip balm, laptop (but you won’t use it), eye drops, tissues, hand lotion… Anything that’ll make you feel comfy during the journey.
There are no accessible outlets on the train, so bring a Mophie or a Jumpack and accompanying cords to make sure all your gear has juice throughout the journey. Cell service is spotty at best and there’s no WiFi on the train, so even though you’ll likely just be using your phone for photos, it’s wise to have a charger on hand just in case.
No matter your level of photographic professionalism, a camera is a must, but now is not the time to splurge on a crazy new setup and try to figure it out while zipping through the countryside and the mountains. Bring what you’re most comfortable using! I brought my Olympus E-PL5, my iPhone 5s and my GoPro. Sure, I wish I had a fancier lens when we whizzed by an adorable bear, but this little setup worked really well for me – and wasn’t too cumbersome for my carry-on.
Tuxedos and Top Hats
Just kidding! Though you will certainly feel like you’re on the Fancy-Pants Express, ball gowns and top hats are not required onboard the Rocky Mountaineer – even in Gold Leaf Service! The key to traveling in style is comfort. I wouldn’t go so far as to recommend Pajama Jeans, but regular jeans, leggings, jeggings and slacks are all within the realm of possibility. A skirt or dress is fine, but once the train begins to climb in elevation, you will wish for covered legs.
While it’s completely acceptable to sit in the toasty glass-domed car drinking Bailey’s on ice all day, at some point you’ll want to wander downstairs and out to one of the open-air vestibules. In Alberta, British Columbia and Washington, the weather varies greatly based on time of year and even time of day, so layers are the key. Depending on where you are on the journey, it might be very cold or even snowing – hello, Rockies! Think about bringing multiple layering pieces you can doff and don with ease – scarves, hats, zip-up sweaters and a coat. Fingerless gloves are super helpful if you’re using a touchscreen device to snap photos outdoors.
The train is no place for heels, especially if you’re going up and down the stairs and taking photos outside in the vestibule. Sturdy-soled boots and tennis shoes are a good way to go. Or, my favorite, Tieks! Fabulous, luxurious, foldable, Italian leather ballet flats – they look great and are super comfy!
I always pack emergency snacks when I travel just in case, but that’s because I’m usually traveling on airplanes, and I’m usually delayed, for hours, with no granola bars to tide me over. You won’t have a chance to get hungry or thirsty, especially in GoldLeaf Service. The Rocky Mountaineer’s onboard chefs will handle every tasty nibble during the journey, so please, leave your snacks at home!
You get gourmet breakfast and lunch every day in the downstairs dining car, plus second breakfast and second lunch snacks and booze (or tea or soda – whatever you’re into) delivered to your seat all day.
Those with dietary requirements are asked to let the staff know at least a week in advance so they can prepare. It’s not like they can just stop the train and find gluten-free, soy-free, dairy-free whatever in the middle of the wilderness, you know?
It’s a pretty simple packing job now that I think about it. Just bring cozy clothes, camera gear and your appetite and you are all set!
Tell me: have you been on the Rocky Mountaineer or is it on your bucket list?
The Rocky Mountaineer hosted me last year on the inaugural 25th anniversary journey. As always, all opinions presented on AngieAway.com are my own.