There’s no denying family vacations are expensive—but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take them! One way to cut costs? Pack items that will save you money! Here, nine essential items that will help you spend less on your next vacation with the kids.
1. Rewards Credit Card with No Foreign Transaction Fees
Not only might you accrue hotel and/or airline points to help make your next trip cheaper, a good rewards credit card with no foreign transaction fees will also keep your costs down on your current excursion! Certain credit cards ding you with three-percent on every foreign purchase. But there are plenty that do not, and some of those have no or low annual fees that also come standard with a free hotel stay annually (which, if booked correctly, will be valued far higher than the annual fee).
The Amazon Visa, for example, has no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees, and earns you three-percent back at Whole Foods and Amazon, two-percent back at gas stations, drugstores and restaurants; and one-percent back on all other purchases.
The Amazon Rewards Visa Signature Card from Chase is also a great choice for a traveling credit card. It offers Lost Luggage Reimbursement, Baggage Delay Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, and Roadside Dispatch, as well as Travel and Emergency Assistance.
2. Reusable Water Bottles
Not only are disposable water bottles destroying our planet, but they’re also a complete waste of your money. Bringing a reusable water bottle will allow you to easily fill up with ice and water every day of your vacation. Pro tip: Bring your water bottle to the airport empty and fill it up once past security to avoid overpriced drinks while waiting to board your plane.
3. Nintendo Switch
The perfect travel companion for kids and adults, the Nintendo Switch packs flat, is light, and the game cartridges are either really small or digital only so there’s not a lot of extras to carry. This game system, above all others, is your family’s perfect go-to for en-route or rainy day entertainment. There are many downloadable Switch games available for as low as $9.99. Bonus: Nintendo also offers a Fortnite Edition of the Switch. Note: Nintendo provided a Switch console to the writer for the purpose of this review.
Forgetting sunscreen means forking over a ridiculous amount of money for SPF 50 at the resort gift shop. Save money by bringing your trusty brand from home. Also remember to pack your sunscreen in your checked luggage if it’s over the TSA fluid ounce limit.
5. Clorox 2 Stain Remover Pen
The Clorox 2 Stain Remover Pen is nothing short of a magic wand—both at home and on the road. Packing it for vacation means saving money on replacing your daughter’s favorite dress or having to take your cute blouse to the drycleaner once you’re home.
6. Nutrition Snack Bars (and Other Snacks)
You should be packing a heavy artillery of your family’s favorite protein bars, fruit snacks, crackers, and the like when you go on vacation. Of course, some hotels include a free breakfast in rates, but if you’re staying in a rental home, apartment, Airbnb, or some other accommodation that doesn’t have a waffle maker or a parade of pastries on offer, a supply of tasty, energy-rich breakfast bars packed in your luggage will make your first meal of each day free of charge!
7. Power Adapters and Car Chargers
These should always be packed, but they are especially necessary to save you money when traveling abroad. Buy the power adapters and converters you need for the countries you are visiting before you leave home because you’ll pay way more when you realize the cigarette lighter adapter for your European rental car doesn’t have a USB port to charge your phone’s quickly draining battery while running Maps with location turned on! If you travel a lot, to many different countries, investing in a power adapter kit will cover all your international charging needs forever.
One of the easiest ways to avoid spending money unnecessarily while on a family vacation is to avoid buying accessories for one-off uses. Packing a compact, lightweight umbrella that can not only fit in your luggage while you travel to your destination but also slide neatly into your purse or backpack during a day out on holiday will save you from an expensive emergency purchase to escape a sudden downpour.
No piece of fancy tech will ever beat holding a real book, but books are heavy and airlines limit the weight of your luggage. If you have voracious readers in your family, consider packing a slim, near-weightless e-reader. Instead of stuffing a dozen hardback books for your family in your suitcases and risking a bag fee at the airport, pack the Amazon Kindle Paperwhite. With a screen that approximates paper, it gets as close as possible to the look of reading actual printed books. For your younger bookworms, pack the Fire Kids Edition Tablet that comes with a colorful chunky kid-proof rubber case and a year of Amazon FreeTime Unlimited, which gives kids access to 15,000 popular apps and games, videos, books, and educational content from PBS Kids, Nickelodeon, and Disney.
Jeff Bogle lives in the suburbs of Philadelphia with his two teen daughters, two cats, one dog and six (yes, six) guinea pigs. He is an award-winning photographer and respected travel journalist with bylines on Reader’s Digest, Good Housekeeping, PBS, Esquire and more. Jeff (probably) spends too much time in England watching football and far too many hours plotting his family’s future travel adventures. Find Jeff on his own site, Out With the Kids.
What to Pack for Your Next Trip
Mom’s/Women’s Swimsuit for the Bahamas in Summer
Dad’s/Men’s Swimsuit for the Bahamas in Summer
Teen Girl’s Cool Cruise Outfit for Summer
Our team of parents and travel experts chooses each product and service we recommend. Anything you purchase through links on our site may earn us a commission.