10 Essentials to Pack for Your Budget-Friendly Vacation

packing essentials

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Knowing what to pack for your vacation is essential in keeping your budget intact.

And since vacation season is here, it’s time to start planning and packing!

Vacation time is my favorite time of the year. It really doesn’t get better than relaxing with family, getting away from the hustle and bustle of life, and being able to unwind for a bit. 

And while you’re away, there are some travel items you must take with you, especially if you want to keep your trip within budget. 

packing essentials

As the Saving Whiz, I try my absolute best to plan ahead when we plan on taking a vacation. I want to make sure that we don’t spend over our budget, so there are essentials I make sure I pack for the family. 

Here are 10 essential travel items I make sure to pack for our family vacations:

1- First Aid

Might sound like a no-brainer, but just because you’re going on vacation, it doesn’t mean that you’re kids are immune to getting hurt during that time.

In fact, with all the activities planned, there’s an increased chance that bandages will be needed. 

packing essentials, first aid

On that note, bring medication for common things like headaches, fevers, and seasickness. I made the mistake of going on my first cruise without packing seasick pills only to find that the ship sold 8 pills for $17.00.

As soon as we docked and I made my way to Costco, I bought 90 bills for less than $8.00. 

Pack your pills from home. 

2- Sunblock and sunburn cream

You’re probably wondering why you would need both. Well, kids are usually having so much fun in the sun that they forget to reapply sunblock, resulting in an unexpected burn. 

Remember, reapply your sunblock every 3-4 hours for added protection. 

Fun stops when burns begin. 

3- Sanitary pads and supplies

Yes, we’re on vacation ladies. And in a perfect world, miss TOM would stay far away during those days. But, miss TOM loves to be rude and tag along on vacations, doesn’t she? So, it’s better to pack some supplies and hope for the best.

packing essentials

That’s all I’ll say on that. 

Guys, stay with me! 

4- Extra Cash

Why would a frugal person tell you to bring extra cash? Because it’s good to have a cushion. When you’re in a new place, chances are the prices are a bit higher than you expected. 

The last thing you want to do is deal with high ATM fees. Bringing the cash doesn’t mean you have to spend it (or that you should). It should be for those instances that you HAVE to spend it.  

packing essentials

5- Books

They don’t have to be physical books, although I absolutely love flipping the pages in a real-life book. But, your digital reader (Kindle or iPad) or even an audio book would be a great addition to your vacation. 

Think about it. 

You have a lot more time when you’re on vacation. You’ve been putting off reading your books because you’re always too tired and pressed for time. 

Now is your chance to unwind with your favorite book and enjoy some good quality time with yourself. 

6- Reusable Plastic Bags

These are great for holding dirty laundry, wet swimsuits and extra pairs of shoes. It’s so much easier to unpack when clothes are organized by dirty and clean piles.

This is my favorite way to pack, because it takes about 5 minutes to unpack when I get home, chuck the plastic bag full of laundry in the washer and put away the rest. 

7- Capsule wardrobe

packing essentials

I hate checking in luggage, especially now that some airlines charge you per checked bag. The way I combat this is to pack less.

But, if you’re going on a week-long vacation, how do you pack enough clothes to wear without needing a huge suitcase for you and your family?

In comes the capsule-style wardrobe

Pack solid colors that go with more than one article of clothing. 

For an 8 day trip, I’d pack 4 tops and 4 bottoms. Then, just mix and match them while you’re on vacation and e voila! A different outfit everyday and you were able to reduce your clothing by half!

8- Shared Toiletries

Yes, at home, each person has their preferred shampoo, conditioner and toothpaste. But on vacation, everyone can stand to use a generic bottle of shampoo. It means less to pack, and less clutter in the bathroom. 

packing essentials

9- Sewing kit

I can remember on a few occasions where my pants ripped at the seams, a kid’s dress button fell off or my shirt got a little snag. 

A small travel sewing kit is small enough to fit in your purse, but can really come in handy for those wardrobe mishaps. It’s easier and much cheaper than having to buy a $25 t-shirt at a gift shop. 

10- Your love for adventure

Remember why you’re going on vacation. You’re not there to spend a ton of money. You’re there to spend a lot of quality time with family and friends. You’re there to get some relaxation in and unwind.

Vacations are meant to give you space to step back and enjoy the small things. And oftentimes, the small things are absolutely free and don’t require any extra packing. 

It’s your gratitude for being lucky enough to go on a family vacation. Your thankfulness for the amazing people around you that look forward to spending time with the unplugged you.

family vacations, family time

Most of all, it’s the minutes and hours of laughter you get by just tuning in and being present. 

This last item is the most important one to bring on your trip. If you bring nothing else, this one item will make any vacation full of memories and good times and it will be a holiday to remember. 

What do you pack to save money on vacation?

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