When packing your suitcase for an exciting trip, there are some essential items you should include to save money and make your travels a little less stressful. There are also some things that are best left at home.
Click through to see what to bring — and what to skip — so you can travel lighter and save money on baggage fees.
Start With the Right Bag
Investing in a quality piece of luggage ensures your belongings are safe and secure while you travel and helps you to avoid all sorts of additional costs.
Choose one that comes with smart accessories such as clip-on laundry bags, shoe carriers or bottle holders. If traveling by air, pick one that meets airline requirements for carry-on luggage so you can avoid additional checked bag fees while keeping everything organized and protected.
Skip the Shampoo and Conditioner
Save space and money by leaving your shampoo, conditioner, hair products, creams and lotions at home. It's one of the many items you can likely get for free at your hotel.
If you have a special product you must pack, don't bring the bottle. Instead, squeeze a little bit in a plastic container. Just make sure you follow TSA's guidelines on liquids.
Ask Your Hotel About Other Free Amenities
In addition to shampoo and conditioner, many hotels have free amenities available to loan to you during your stay. Travel kettles, irons, plug adaptors, hair flat irons, electronic chargers, nightlights, DVDs and games for the kids are all available at select hotels if you only ask.
Call ahead before you leave, and free up some space in your suitcase. Check out these hotels with the best free amenities.
Wear Clothing That Can Store Items
When is a jacket more than a jacket? When it comes equipped with multiple pockets that can safely stash your passport, boarding pass, keys, headphones, water bottle and sunglasses. For example, the SCOTTeVEST Chloe hoodie stores all your essentials, so you might be able to do away with additional bags that might incur luggage costs.
It also prevents pickpockets from making off with your vacation spending money. The company provides a $1,000 anti-theft money-back guarantee if you are a victim of pickpocketing while wearing its products.
Bring Your Own Snacks
Airplane food has always been awful, but now it's awful and expensive. With many airlines doing away with a free meal, even on long flights, your travel expenses can start right on the very first leg of your journey.
Bring your own snacks. You'll save money and will also have something tasty that you know you'll enjoy.
Bring a Water Bottle
Bring along a water bottle, and fill it at a water fountain after you get through the security checkpoint for totally free hydration.
Grab Your Cash-Back Card
Don't forget to pack your cash-back credit card to make money on travel purchases. For everything you buy for your vacation and all the items in your suitcase, you can earn money back in your pocket.
Take a Sunscreen Stick or Tin
When packing a suitcase, sunscreen is a must to protect your skin, even in cooler climates. But the TSA limits on liquids mean that you'll have to bring overpriced mini travel-size versions in your carry-on luggage if you want to avoid checked baggage fees.
These smaller products can be very expensive, up to $12 an ounce or more. The solution is to buy a sunscreen stick or solid formulation in a tin, such as those made by Raw Elements, It can be applied easily, and there aren't any limits on how much you can bring.
Buy Travel Insurance
You won't necessarily "pack" travel insurance, but it's something you should consider buying. Saving the money on the premium might seem like a way to keep your costs down, but the potential ramifications could ruin you.
If you fall ill or have an accident, medical costs can reach hundreds of thousands of dollars. It's simply not worth it. Shop around for a good deal, and carry your documents on your person.
Get the Scoop: 31 Secrets About Travel Insurance Only Insiders Know
Bring a Roll of Duct Tape
This might sound like an unusual tip, but duct tape is a multifunctional product that can be useful on a trip.
If ground staff have been a little rough with your luggage and caused damage or made a hole in the side of your case, you'll still need to get your belongings home. Rather than resorting to buying a suitcase at the airport, which could really set you back, you can patch up the damage with your duct tape for a fraction of the cost.
It can also be used as makeshift bandages, to secure your valuables or for a variety of other uses on the road.
Buy Some Personal Products at Your Destination
When figuring out exactly what to pack, you'll likely be able to buy a range of personal care items — such as deodorant, feminine hygiene products, toothpaste and cosmetics — right at your destination from big nationwide or international stores.
Although paying out of pocket for products at your destination will cost you some money, it will be far less than the additional baggage fees you might face if you bring bulky and heavy bottles from home. It will also save you a lot of space in your luggage and help you avoid any spills or potential leakage onto your belongings.
Check with the concierge for recommendations on affordable local drugstores or large grocery chains.
Bring a Mini Flashlight
A small flashlight, such as the BYB superbright, can pack away easily inside a shoe or a zippered section of your bag.
Once at your destination, a flashlight can be invaluable when navigating a new unknown destination, making your way to the washroom in the middle of the night or checking foreign currency at the bottom of your bag.
Skip the Umbrella
Umbrellas are difficult to pack. They take up a lot of space, can open in your bag and often break. Leave yours at home and borrow one from the hotel instead.
Make Copies of Your Passport
Before leaving home, get photocopies of all your important documents, including your passport and credit cards. If you lose any vital identification or have your belongings stolen these documents will prove who you are to the authorities.
This will save you time at the embassy and can help replace your documents quickly, giving thieves less of a chance to go on a spending spree on your dime.
Leave the Books at Home
Leave all the books at home. They take up a lot of space, add unnecessary weight and, if you buy them at the airport, they can often cost a lot more than you would pay in your hometown. In the long run, an e-reader such as the Kindle will save you money and space in your case.