Airline baggage fees have led most travelers to lean toward packing light. But packing too light can leave you unprepared at your destination, causing you to shell out serious money for items that cost much less at home. Before you pack your bags for your next trip, consider taking these 10 items along to help you save money and prevent those unwanted trips to the store when you could be lounging by the pool.
Sunscreen may seem like an inexpensive, easy-to-find commodity at home, but it can be much more difficult to locate when you really need it. Sunscreen isn’t an everyday item in many warm-weather destinations, and stores that do sell it may not have the strength or type you prefer. The price of sunscreen also tends to be sky high in many warm-weather or remote destinations. Save yourself the sticker shock by purchasing plenty of sunscreen and packing it inside a Ziploc bag in your checked baggage before you go.
Landing in a foreign country to find that you can’t charge your phone, computer, tablet, camera or other electronics can be a serious drag. Many countries use a two-pronged socket that looks unfamiliar to most North Americans. You’ll need an adapter to allow you to attach your three-pronged chargers to the two-pronged system. These adapters can be tough to find when you really need them, so it’s best to purchase a couple at home and bring them along on your travels.
Shopaholics often end up shipping boxes or purchasing an extra set of luggage just to cary their souvenirs and other purchases back home. Pack a lightweight, cloth duffel bag in your checked baggage to use as an additional piece of luggage for your new purchases. You might still have to pay for the extra baggage with your airline, but you won’t have to purchase an expensive piece of luggage to get your items home.
If you’ve ever racked up roaming charges while traveling abroad, you know the agony associated with using your cellphone in foreign countries. Eliminate all of the excess fees by purchasing an unlocked cellphone that you use on all of your travels. If you don’t want to spend an arm and a leg on an unlocked smartphone, Samsung, Nokia and a number of other cellphone companies offer a basic phone for roughly $30.
Simply purchase a local SIM card when you arrive at your destination, insert it into your phone and you’ll have a local number that’s ideal for texting and calling at a much lower price. An unlocked smartphone can also be used as a WiFi hotspot if you ever need to access the internet in a pinch.
Airports are known for offering less-than-desirable exchange rates, and changing money is probably not the first thing you want to deal with when arriving at your destination. Exchange money into the local currency of your destination before you leave home to ensure you get the proper exchange rate. It’s also easier to communicate exactly what you need with a teller at home, who can you tell you the exchange rate you should be getting when it comes time to change money on your travels.
If you plan on venturing outside of the resort, or if you simply want to swim up to the bar and ask for a drink with local lingo, it pays to travel with a phrase book on hand. In addition to helping you communicate with locals at your destination, a phrase book can help you learn numbers and phrases to help you bargain when shopping, taking cab rides or making other purchases.
On my most recent trip to Indonesia, I rushed when packing my toiletry bag and left out some very critical items only to find that they’re not available in the local stores. It’s best to come prepared with a small amount of essential first-aid items like bandages, Neosporin (or other anti-bacterial cream), cleansing wipes, Advil and any other items you’d commonly use to heal small wounds. Something as simple as a stubbed toe can leave you purchasing an array of items that you probably already have laying around your home.
Many travelers think you’ll only need a flashlight if you’re going camping, but you’ll notice that a flashlight comes in handy just about every night of your travels. Whether you’re taking a nighttime walk on the beach or are attempting to count a foreign currency inside your purse, a miniature flashlight will prove well worth the small amount of space it uses in your carry on. Even better, you won’t have to make an extra trip to the store when you realize you need one.
Foreign transaction fees can turn bargain purchases into not-so-bargain ones, and using a credit card that doesn’t charge international fees can save you a ton of money when traveling internationally. Research whether or not your current credit card charges such fees, and consider applying for a new card if it does. Who knows, your new credit card might even offer you bonus airline miles for signing up too.
You don’t want to stuff your bag with a bulky parka (unless you’re headed someplace cold), but a lightweight rain jacket can save you in a pinch. If you forget to pack your lightweight rain jacket before you travel, you’ll probably find yourself at a touristy shop purchasing a poncho you’ll never wear again, or even worse, fashioning a large plastic bag with holes for your head and arms. A rain coat can also keep you out exploring when others travelers are forced to stay inside.