If you’re going to be the best vacationer headed on vacation, then you’re going to need these tips!

Have you ever forgotten something at home before?

You can bet we have! With eight people headed on vacation (my parents always go with us), you can bet that each of us has forgotten something we should have packed.

And each and every year as we head on vacation we have to buy the things we already had at home! How frustrating!

Plus, each year those silly costs take away from our fun vacation money! You know, the money that goes towards ice cream, ferry boat rides around the lake, or even a movie to cool off during the day.

I am so tired of paying full price for those silly things that I am determined to make sure you and I won’t ever forget them again!

So I’ll share my best tips on how to prepare for a vacation so you won’t overpay and take away from your fun vacation money fund!

Plus, I’ll share some things to pack for a vacation so you won’t be stuck paying full price for something that you could get for less at another store.

And, I’ll share my best family vacation packing tips so you won’t be stuck forgetting something ever again!

If you’ve forgotten to pack or check on some of these things before, here’s how you can be the best-prepared vacationer this year!



Anywhere you go, they have drinks for sale for the ever thirsty vacationer. It gets hot, you get thirsty, and they’ll gladly sell you an overpriced drink.

You know, the same ones you can get BOGO at the store making them just 50¢ per bottle? And they want how much?! Up to $4 per bottle?! Um, no thanks.

You’d think that living in Florida means we would have water bottles attached at our hip. Unfortunately, that’s not the case.

There is always someone forgetting their water bottle or cup. But the one thing we won’t do is spend $4 for a soda or water bottle each time we get thirsty.

Head to the dollar store or grocery store and pick up a water bottle, some gallons of water, and some drink mix packets or liquid water enhancers.


Create A Plan For Your Money

These FREE Budgeting Spreadsheets will help you keep a pulse on your money (from the palm of your hand).

Even if you pay for a small styrofoam cooler and ice, you’ll still be paying less than getting drinks every time your family gets thirsty, which for us would be every hour.

Just think how much we would be saving?! Eight people x $4 x four drinks per day (and that’s at the minimum) = $128 per day just on drinks! Ouch!

You can even add Starbucks Via Instant Coffee packets to your things to pack for a vacation. You can get hot water from the sink or microwave in your hotel room. If you are on a road trip, you could even bring a hot water kettle that would make hot water fast.

Just make sure that you bring a travel coffee cup so that you can switch out when necessary. And if you’re like me…don’t forget the creamer!

Be sure to add these things to your packing list to be the best vacationer:



It’s proven that when my family is bored they get hungry. And it’s also been proven that after my boys eat a huge meal, they are either still hungry or they’ll be hungry after an hour. I know, it’s crazy!

But what we often forget on our trips are snacks! Yup, those crazy little packages that I can get super cheap with grocery store sales…I’ll end up paying four times as much at a gas station because the kids are hungry. Why, oh, why?!

So let’s be the best vacationer and be prepared this year by packing or buying some snacks when you get there!

When the kids were little I used to buy those prepackaged snacks so that each kid got their own little baggy and I wouldn’t hear any complaining about so and so got more than me. Now, since they have become snack monsters with huge caverns for bellies, I buy multiple family size bags of pretzels because they are just cheaper per ounce and a little healthier than chips!

Buy Snacks To Save Money

Snack crackers and granola bars also make great snacks to have on hand. I buy them when they go BOGO and stock up for vacation. I’ll hide them so they won’t get eaten before we leave.

My family vacation packing tips would be to buy some healthy snacks at the grocery store like bananas and apples. They are super cheap, healthy, and they make for some filling snacks.

If your hotel room also has a microwave, you can easily make healthy microwave popcorn! Check out the recipe and more healthy food swaps! Then you can always take a bag of popcorn with you on your daily outings.

Don’t forget to pack or buy at the grocery store:

  • Granola Bars
  • Healthy snacks: apples, bananas
  • Pretzels
  • Popcorn kernels, paper lunch sacks, popcorn seasoning

Check The Weather

While my dad may forget his hat, I’m bound to need a jacket.

I don’t know how many times I’ve gotten to Disney and it turned cold. I’m standing there with my teeth chattering and I had to buy a jacket. Obviously I didn’t check the weather, and before you say anything…yes, this Florida girl gets cold!

So learn from my mistake and check the weather to be a prepared vacationer! I know that if it is going to get below 70 degrees at night I need a jacket. (I know you really think I’m crazy now!)

Also, don’t forget your rain gear. You’d think that a Florida girl has this all down packed to a science about the rainy season…but there have been a couple of times where ponchos were needed so we didn’t get drenched at Disney. And that $10 poncho price was a hard pill to swallow.

If you think you might need a poncho because they are easier to carry than umbrellas, head to the local dollar store and pick up a bunch. They might not last long, but since they are only a buck, you’ll be glad you had them when the rain heads your way.

Don’t forget to pack:

  • A jacket – lightweight (or whatever you need for the weather)
  • Rain Jacket
  • Or poncho

Water Shoes, Flip Flops, & Shoes

How many times have you been caught without the correct footwear as a vacationer? I don’t know how many times we got rained on at Disney and our shoes and socks got wet. And Disney does not do cheap footwear! I was not going to pay $30 Crocs for each member of our family, so we ended up drudging through the day with wet feet. Thankfully we are fast learners and came up with some sandals that would be a better option just in case it rained on us again.

Then recently, we were headed to the beach and my son came out in his tennis shoes. While I tried to wrap my brain around his decision, it occurred to me that recently his feet grew out of everything else that was in his closet. And that was his only footwear at the time.

Thankfully there was a dollar store on the way and I could pick up a cheap pair of flip flops for him for the day. While they may not last the season, they would be a quick and frugal option.

Bring The Right Shoes

So here’s where you get to learn from our lack of experience on how to prepare for a vacation. Figure out where you are going and what type of footwear you’ll need. If you are planning on coming to Florida any time during the summer (a.k.a. the rainy season), you can bet that it will rain at least once per day. So you’ll need some type of comfortable footwear that can get wet or protect you from it.

If you’re going to the beach or lake, figure out if there are rocks and if water shoes might be a better option for your family. You will find a better deal on your footwear before you leave for a vacation than paying for overpriced footwear on vacation. Plus, who wants to spend time shopping for the size and style you like or need when you could be on the beach! Don’t overpay at a souvenir shop when you don’t have to!

And obviously, don’t forget a good pair of tennis shoes or walking shoes if you’ll be walking a lot. The last thing you’ll want is hurting feet! That can turn a great trip into a miserable one fast!

Add these items to your vacationer packing list if you think you’ll need them:

  • Water Shoes
  • Flip Flops
  • Sandals
  • Tennis shoes and socks
  • Other walking shoes

Another thing you might want to consider is adding Moleskin to your packing list. It’s in the first aid aisle that protects your feet against blisters and from rubbing against your shoe or sandal. I always have some in my travel bag.


Sunscreen & Bug Spray

$14. That’s how much I’ve had to pay for sunscreen at Disney because we forgot it. Ugh, I wanted to scream!

But on a hot, sunny day in Florida, you pay for it or you burn. So, reluctantly, we paid for it. And from then on, I’ve never forgotten it again.

It’s funny how those hard life lessons stick with you.

So don’t forget the sunscreen and bug spray! You probably already have some in your cabinet so grab it and pack it so you can be a frugal vacationer!

We even keep some in our car now because the last time we made a quick stop by the forest for a walk we were inundated with mosquitoes. Like swat five away and twenty-five take their place kind of swarm! It was insane!

Add these items to your packing list now:

And I even keep a lip balm with sunscreen in it because my lips often burn too!


Toiletries, Personal Items, & Diapers

Being a large family, we usually run out of something on our trips. While travel sizes are great because they are TSA compliant and they are so small, you don’t get very many uses out of them.

Opt for larger size bottles to add to your checked luggage or head to the local grocery store when you can. Do not buy more travel-sized bottles as some can be marked up over 200%! Refill those small bottles if you need to!

And don’t forget, that with Amazon Pantry, Instacart, Shipt, and curbside pickup from many other grocery stores and drug stores, you can get the things you need without having to pay an arm and a leg at the hotel store. I love Amazon Pantry just for that reason. I can add stuff to my cart and then select the day I want it to be delivered. I can get all that I need to without leaving the hotel room.


Create A Plan For Your Money

These FREE Budgeting Spreadsheets will help you keep a pulse on your money (from the palm of your hand).

If your baby is still in diapers, opt for a big pack and bring enough diapers and wipes with you. Or you can even have some shipped to you. You’ll be glad you when you don’t have to pay twice the price that you would normally pay in the store.

This is how to prepare for a vacation by being a prepared vacationer!

Add to your packing list:

  • Toiletries: Shampoo, Conditioner, Soap, Razors, Toothpaste, Toothbrushes, etc.
  • Feminine Items
  • Baby Supplies: Diapers, Wipes, Ointment, Baby Wash, etc.

Sunglasses, Hats, & Towels

How many times has my dad forgotten his hat? I’ve lost count now! And each time we’ve had to buy him a hat so that his poor head doesn’t get burned. Talk about an unprepared vacationer!

And since our family can’t seem to keep up with our sunglasses either, we’ve opted for those super dollar store deals. Not only are they inexpensive, but we can buy a boatload and stash them everywhere so we have them when we need them.

Don’t pay $10-$20 for a pair of sunglasses at a souvenir shop. Just head to a local dollar store and stock up. The same goes for hats and beach towels. Don’t pay over $20 for a towel that’s not the best quality anyway.

Save yourself some money and either bring it with you or know where you should shop to get a deal. Save money on these things to pack for a vacation so you’ll have more fun money to work with.

Add these items to your packing list:

  • Hats
  • Sunglasses
  • Towels

Headphones, Phone Charger Cords, & Batteries

The last thing you want to happen is to run out of battery on your phone when the perfect sunset goes down on the horizon. I think we’ve all been there a time or two. So make sure you are packed for all your power needs before you leave to be a prepared vacationer.

While my family all has phones, the chargers, cords, and headphones always come up missing. Someone even keeps taking mine!

If you’re heading out, go ahead and buy some of each so that you’ll have enough if one breaks or gets lost. I now even add washi tape to tell each person’s cord so that we can tell them apart.

If you don’t have a portable battery pack, they are wonderful when your phone is low and you have nowhere to charge it. The portable charging batteries at Disney cost $30 alone! You can get a much better deal online or at a store before you arrive on vacation.

Not only will you save big money by purchasing these things in advance, but you’ll be prepared when the time comes.

Add these items to your packing list:

You could even buy one of these power strips that make it nice and easy for plugging in all your cords. And since sometimes the plugs aren’t always in a convenient location, this one has a nice long cord so you can reach the plug.


First Aid Kit

If I had a dollar for every time I had to use a bandaid on a child while on vacation, I would be on a permanent vacation because I’d be so rich. Yes, my boys are accident-prone, so of course, we use tons of bandaids.

If you have a first aid kit at home, bring it. You’ll need something out of there eventually. From pain medicine to bandaids, your kit will get used.

Don’t get stuck paying over $2 for a couple of pills at a convenience store when you can just bring some from home. It will be well worth your time to have something on hand to stop a headache, stop the bleeding, and to disinfect a wound.

You’ll be glad you had it and you’ll be the best prepared and frugal vacationer.


Laundry Supplies

If you’ve ever had to do laundry at a coin machine you know just how expensive they are. Now add at least $4 to that cost just for a one load box of laundry detergent at your hotel! That’s about how much you’ll be charged just to clean your clothes and that’s not even to dry and soften your clothes! Yikes is right!

The great thing about bringing your own laundry supplies is that they are more transportable than ever! Laundry pods make it easy to transport laundry detergent without the fear of them leaking all over your car or luggage. You can purchase a small bag of 14 pods for less than $5 (cheaper if you get them on sale), and that should last for your entire vacation. Unless you’re like me and have a huge crew that makes for some massive laundry piles, then you might need a bigger bag.


Create A Plan For Your Money

These FREE Budgeting Spreadsheets will help you keep a pulse on your money (from the palm of your hand).

Plus, you can add dryer sheets to your luggage before you put your clothes in it. It will not only keep your clothes smelling fresh while you’re on vacation, but you can grab them out when you need to do some laundry. Plus, you’ll be a great smelling vacationer!

Check out these other things you can do with dryer sheets!

So it’s time to add to your packing list if you plan on doing any laundry while you’re on vacation:

  • Laundry pods
  • Dryer sheets
  • Quarters for laundry machine (just in case they don’t take credit/debit cards)
  • Stain stick or stain remover wipes

You may also want to bring a collapsible laundry hamper. Not only are they great for corralling dirty laundry, but it can double as a beach tote!



Whether you are heading to the beach or some time in the mountains, toys are going to help your little one stay busy and out of trouble.

I know my kids loved to play with sand toys, frisbees, beach balls, and even little kickboards at the beach. But in order to be a frugal vacationer, don’t buy them at the local surf shop or souvenir shop! You’ll spend twice as much!

Head to the local discount store, Target, or Walmart to pick these items up. Not only will they have a better selection, but your vacation budget will be happy too!


Room Charges

Who wouldn’t want to wake up to a hot breakfast of eggs, bacon, pancakes, and a large pot of hot coffee?! But if that breakfast is going to cost you $60 or more, you’d better skip it to be a frugal vacationer.

And that stuff in the minibar isn’t free! That can of nuts could cost you $17! Are you kidding me?!! That bottled water could cost you $4! Don’t touch it if you don’t want those charges added to your bill.

I once heard of a mother letting her child swipe her room key in the arcade room at a hotel. At a $1 per swipe, she was charged $200+ later as she thought the games were free. Not only were they not free, but you can bet she was flabbergasted at having to pay that bill as she was checking out!

Be careful as to what charges you want to be added to your room. We opt every time to pay instead of charges being added to our room as we don’t like expensive surprises!

things to pack for a vacation

Entry & Parking Fees

Have you ever gone anywhere and realized you could have gotten in for a cheaper price? Or realized later that your parking fee could have been waived?

I don’t know how many times that has happened to us, where if we would have dug a little deeper we could have saved more money on our trip.

Next time you are heading somewhere, check out all the options for entrance fees and see if you can find a better deal. Check Groupon, your memberships like AAA, and even do the math for a season pass to see which one is cheaper. Think like a frugal vacationer and find those deals!

Check out where you need to park and if you can park cheaper. Checking out all these little expenses will help you save more money in the long run.

things to pack for a vacation


Disgusted at the prices of WiFi? Me too! I do not want to pay for WiFi if I don’t have to because I’m a frugal vacationer!

Before you book your hotel, ask for the prices for the WiFi. You can bet that there will be other hotels that offer free WiFi so you don’t have to pay out of pocket for it.

Even if you can’t find a hotel that offers free WiFi, you can still head to a local coffee shop or fast food restaurant that does offer free WiFi.

This can save you some serious dough as long as you don’t eat your savings in coffee and donuts each time you stop in for a free signal.

Or, you can learn to do without it on your break. Crazy thought…I know.

things to pack for a vacation

ATM Fees

What’s more shocking than paying an ATM fee? Paying a double ATM fee from your bank! That’s right. Some banks will charge you extra on top of the ATM machine fee. Don’t get caught paying double fees as a vacationer!

Thankfully, you can ask for cash at most stores these days if you buy something. I usually just buy some gum and get some cash at the same time. It not only saves me money, but it takes about the same time as going through an ATM.


Create A Plan For Your Money

These FREE Budgeting Spreadsheets will help you keep a pulse on your money (from the palm of your hand).

If you can’t find an ATM that will not charge you fees, check your bank account app. Most will have an option to locate an ATM near you.

Then you can keep some cash with you just in case.

things to pack for a vacation


While the thought of souvenirs to remember your trip sounds great, they really aren’t! They are horrible! From cheaply made plastics that break, to kids that don’t use them or even like them two days later! If you want to save money on your vacation, skip the souvenir shops.

We often choose the free souvenir route. That includes the photos we’ve taken during our trip, the kid’s toys that they get with their meals, and even the free objects we find along the way.

Shells, sand, coral, and other beach goodies make for some great free souvenirs that you can keep.

We’ve also collected maps, ticket stubs, pressed some flowers, travel guides, and even postcards because they are so inexpensive.

Even the recipe for our favorite dish has been a great souvenir!

Another thing we do on vacation is to look for gifts for others. That way we get the thrill and fun of shopping, but we are not shopping for ourselves and keeping it just to collect dust. We like to look for gifts for upcoming birthdays and Christmas gifts.

Here are some other ideas that may help curb the souvenir sensation to buy.

The 5 Rules To Souvenir Buying

If you want to buy something, is it:

  • something you would wear often (like a scarf or a pretty sun hat)
  • something you could use every day (like a kitchen utensil)
  • something to be displayed and admired (like artwork)
  • something to give as a gift
  • something to be consumed (like a bag of locally roasted coffee beans)

These ideas may help curb your family from just buying junk like a shark’s tooth necklace or another nameplate key ring.

As you can see, being the best and most frugal vacationer can save you some serious money on your vacation!

I hope you have learned from my best tips on how to prepare for a vacation so you won’t overpay and take away from your fun vacation money fund.

Plus, when you learn the necessary things to pack for a vacation you won’t be stuck paying full price for something that you could get for less at another store.

And, my best family vacation packing tips are helpful so you won’t be stuck forgetting something ever again!


YOUR TURN: What other tips have made you the best prepared and frugal vacationer? Share with me in the comments below!

How To Be The Best Prepared & Frugal Vacationer This Year