Power up on a trip down the tracks
If a tree falls in a forest and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound? And if you take a cross-country train trip from New York to Los Angeles and don't post pictures on social media along the way, did it really happen? Keeping your phone charged and ready to document your adventure is no problem when you ride with Amtrak. Train travel has come a long way in recent decades, and today's trains are outfitted with modern conveniences, including outlets for all passengers.
Outlets for everyone on Amtrak
Amtrak might be the most juiced-up way to travel. Unlike planes, which tend to be hit-or-miss when it comes to outlets, Amtrak trains have outlets throughout the cars. On most trains, every seat has its own outlet, even in unreserved coach seating.
There's a catch, though. In coach seating, the outlets are located next to the window. Seats are arranged in pairs. Each pair of seats has two outlets, one for each passenger. That makes things tricky if you're in the aisle seat. Not only will you have to lean over your seatmate to reach the plug, but your shorter charger cables might not even reach all the way from your seat to the plug. And there's also the possibility that you'll find yourself seated next to someone who decides to hog both of the outlets with little concern for you. Reserve a window seat if you're concerned about outlet access.
Business class is usually set up the same way as coach. Things are a little easier in first class. There, each seat is usually equipped with its own individual outlet. Your train might even have outlets in other public spaces, like the observation car (if there is one).
Amtrak's plugs are standard 120-volt American outlets with three-pronged B sockets. If you're using electronics from a country that uses different sockets, bring your own converter.
Other options to charge your stuff
There are no guarantees when it comes to outlet access. Train staff can't help you if your seatmate decides to use both outlets for his or herself and refuses to share, and outlets sometimes don't work. So if you absolutely can't travel in comfort without a charged phone and working tablet, put a backup plan in place.
Portable chargers are perfect for travel. The type of charger you choose depends on the number and type of your electronic devices and your personal preferences. For instance, USB chargers might help you make the most out of your single Amtrak outlet. These chargers have multiple USB ports so you can juice multiple devices at the same time.
You might want to invest in a small battery pack. Charge it overnight at home, and it should have enough power to charge your phone, tablet or other device at least a few times. Be mindful about what kind of outputs a battery pack has before you buy it. Many only connect to devices via USB cables. To charge a laptop without outlet access, you'll need a battery pack with outputs compatible with your laptop power cable.