14 Unexpected Things That Will Come In Handy On The Train

Dry shampoo is a miracle worker.

It’s official – I’m crossing Canada! It’s actually happening, I’m making my way across the country. On a train. On Canada Day I boarded a train in Toronto, with my destination being Vancouver. This is the longest on-train stretch on my trip, I’ve already made my way through Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta. The views from the train have been incredible. Check out Exhibit A:

See what I mean? I can’t wait to get off the train and actually explore this incredible country of ours. That being said, I’ve learned a lot from spending 4 straight days on a train. Here are 14 items you should have in your bag that will come in incredibly handy on a long journey.

A Compact Mirror

Maybe this seems unnecessary, but if you are like me and a) need to clean up in the morning and b) are traveling to multiple budget hostels or campsites then a mirror is for you. You don’t need anything big, and if it isn’t in a compact case than you can wrap it in a sweater or towel to keep it from breaking.

A Deck of Cards

I don’t care if you are going across Canada or to the other end of the globe, playing cards are a relatively universal way to socialize with other travelers and locals at your destination. Whether you are all playing a familiar game, or you’re being taught a new one, a deck of cards is an easy way to make friends.

A Microfiber Towel

Remember when I mentioned I had once forgotten a towel for a beach trip? Not only did I learn from my mistake but I have also taken it a step farther and now only pack microfiber towels. They’re more compact and dry faster than a regular bathroom or beach towel, so they are perfect for small bags and trips with multiple stops like mine.


A Collapsible Water Bottle

Stay hydrated on your trip without feeling like you’re taking up too much space in your bag with a collapsible water bottle. Just fill it when you need it and roll it up when you don’t.

An Extension Cord

This broke backpacker is staying in hostels the entire length of the trip, and those places aren’t exactly renowned for having many outlets in the dorm rooms. If you’re going on a trip similar to mine, make sure to pack an extension cord so you can plug in your phone, laptop, and Ipod all at once. Or better yet, save the spare socket for a fellow traveler in need!

A Laundry Bag

If your trip is long you will need to do laundry. Keep the wine-stained shirt and dirty underwear away from your fresh clothes by bringing a small bag to keep the dirty items all together. It also makes transportation to the laundromat a breeze. Pro tip; grab some Tide brand “Pods” before you leave. Put them in a Ziploc bag and use those on your travels instead of having to buy liquid detergent from the laundromat.

Bring on the Samples

Everyone loves free samples, and now is your time to put them to use! Mini versions of your perfume, cologne, hair product, and makeup can be found at your local drug store and makeup shops. An easy way to bring your favourite products with you, and especially great if you’re taking the plane and need to limit your carry on liquids!


I don’t feel like spending all my travel savings on going out for dinner every night on my trip, so I plan on grocery shopping along the way. These little babies are perfect for a backpacker like me, or anyone who is roughing it in the woods. Plus they are good for the environment!

A Shower in a Can

I will be on a train for four days straight, and I do not want to gross out my neighbour with greasy hair. Dry shampoo is a miracle worker in this situation. Just spray a bit on your roots, brush or shake it in with your fingers, and you’ve got fresh looking hair! You can even find travel versions like mine at your local dollar store.


A First Aid Kit

It’s like responsibility in a travel case. Stores everywhere have pre-made first aid kits, but I love the dollar store version. They’re compact and yet they have everything you could need for a minor accident (like when you slice your hand open in between Saskatchewan and Alberta).

A Selfie Stick

Go ahead and make fun of my millennial self, but you shouldn’t knock it before you try it. Besides you’ll never see any of the people around you again if you’re traveling, so why not make a fool of yourself!

Travel Bottles

Another wonderful tip if you’re traveling by plane or are worried about the weight of your bag. Don’t bring full size bottles of anything, just run to the dollar store to pick up these mini bottles and fill them up with your favourite products. Some sets even come with labels so you know exactly what is in every container.

A Small Instrument

Similar to the playing cards, bringing a musical instrument with you can really be a great way to make friends and create memories along the road. I am in no way musically inclined so I packed a simple kazoo, but I have friends who bring ukuleles or even guitars if they have the room (and the patience to carry it around).

Fun Stuff!

Take some time to roam your local travel store. They have fun things down every aisle that could come in handy, depending on your needs. The best part is their items are designed to be small and easy to transport. I got these little pods which each have small, thin sheets inside meant for various tasks. See what you can find and add that to your bag!