Budget Friendly Vacation Must Haves

Vacation planning can be tedious. And for me at least, it seems it’s inevitable. I WILL forget to pack something.

There are tons of things you could pack for vacation. You know the usual: comb, socks, toothpaste (you do brush twice per day, right?). But I’ve put together a handy list of my own budget friendly vacation must haves.

I’ve made sure everything on this list is affordable and conducive to the trip in some way or another. I’m not going to tell you to go buy this or that, but shopping is fun regardless.

By adding some of my vacation must haves to your packing list, you can be more organized, lessen the boredom on the road, and enhance your vacation experience.

So here goes…

  1. Your smartphone. Yeah that’s easy enough, but you’ll want to prime it for the road. Make sure apps are up to date. Clear out your photos so you can load up with new ones. Arm yourself with some great travel apps. Take screenshots of step by step GPS directions in case you loose signal. And add music with iTunes or Google Play for the road.
  2. Cooler. I always always always pack a cooler with water and snacks. It’s so much easier and faster to grab something quick without having to exit off the freeway.
  3. Dual car charger. You won’t have to worry about who will get to charge their phone when if you can accomate all at once!
  4. Road tunes. This can be a smartphone or a stash of CDs. Did you know most libraries have CDs? You could even get an audiobook to change up the pace.
  5. Grocery bags. You know that bag of bags we all have stashed somewhere in the house? Bring it! You can use them for trash bags, to hold we swim suits, storage or even pick up pet waste if you travel with the pooch.
  6. Pen & paper. The kids can do pen and paper games or draw. I bring it along with us (no kids) to keep a list of things to see and do. I always grab brochures at the travel stops and will read through and list the places we decide to see in the future.
  7. Blanket. For when you’re cold or decide to stop for a picnic. Or to cover valuables when you leave the car.
  8. Singles. Usually we know our route and we are prepared for tolls. But it’s always a good idea to have a few extra singles on hand. Tolls can always go up too.
  9. Cell phone holder. Especially if your phone is your GPS. This will keep things in view and out of valuable cup holders. Phone holders can be found at dollar stores like Dollar Tree & Five Below for under $5.
  10. Air freshener. Long trips can make your car stink. So prevention is key. Especially if any of your fellow vacationers are barefoot. Or, you know, snacking on beans.
  11. Stamps. Postcards are my favorite souvenir. They’re cheap, easy to find, colorful and look great on our fridge. Pack a roll of stamps to send postcards to friends, family or even yourself. I like to write what traditions we saw or a memory and then send it to ourselves from the place we visited. It will be a great reminder of days gone by.

My type A personality really wants to make this list even. So let me know:

What are your vacation must haves?

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  • The Conservative Mommy
    August 2, 2015 at 9:14 pm

    Great list of vacation must-haves! (Especially the car charger!)

  • Izabela
    August 2, 2015 at 6:25 am

    Great tips-I always make sure I have plenty of grocery bags in my luggage. They are a must.

  • LizZ H.
    August 2, 2015 at 12:28 am

    I feel the same way about packing. Always feel like i’m going to forget SOMETHING. Taking screenshots of the GPS directions, is really smart!

    • Jenn
      August 2, 2015 at 12:29 am

      I’ve forgotten all sorts of easy things. Combs, shampoo, toothbrush, the list goes on… Lol

  • Joski Byrne
    August 1, 2015 at 11:05 am

    Packing for holidays is the worst! I always forget something. Good advice, thanks. πŸ™‚

  • Aishwarya S
    July 31, 2015 at 12:34 pm

    Good points there! When I travel with family, we always take more phone chargers or else we fight over them.

  • Stefanie (@LexieLooDylan2)
    July 31, 2015 at 12:15 pm

    Thanks for all the tips! We’re getting ready to drive from Pittsburgh to Virginia Beach in a few weeks with our 4 kids. I’ll remember these!!!

    • Jenn
      July 31, 2015 at 12:20 pm

      I’m actually in Pittsburgh too. We should add a trip to Virginia Beach to our list πŸ™‚ We love road trips!

  • aubrey zaruba
    July 31, 2015 at 10:14 am

    i love the idea of bringing stamps. i like to send postcards too, but i usually do it when i get home. it would be more fun to send them from wherever i am.

    • Jenn
      July 31, 2015 at 10:20 am

      I used to just load up on postcards. We’ve only recently started sending them to ourselves. It’s always fun to get things in the mail. Especially when it helps remind us of the fun we’ve had.

  • Brittany Bergman
    July 31, 2015 at 9:49 am

    I always pack a few grocery bags when I head out of town — they come in handy every time!! Great suggestions!

    • Jenn
      July 31, 2015 at 10:20 am

      I used to think my mom was crazy to save all those bags. Now I get it πŸ˜‰

  • Lori
    July 30, 2015 at 9:11 pm

    Taking screen shots of the GPS directions is BRILLIANT!

    • Jenn
      July 30, 2015 at 9:16 pm

      Thanks, Lori. Learned that one from experience!

  • Patricia
    July 30, 2015 at 5:12 pm

    Great post! I will be going through this list in a week when packing for our summer trip. We always pack some apples, clementines and bananas too, just because when travelling healthy food is often hard to find. And water!

    • Jenn
      July 30, 2015 at 6:20 pm

      The mark up on fruit at a convenience store is appalling. I found a banana once. For $1.99. For just the one banana. Lol

  • Tiffany
    July 30, 2015 at 3:42 pm

    Very thoughtful list! I didn’t even think about grocery bags…..that’s so smart, thank you!

    • Jenn
      July 30, 2015 at 4:05 pm

      Thanks for stopping by, Tiffany!

  • Natalia
    July 30, 2015 at 3:06 pm

    Ahh, the dual charger! How have I lived this long without one? Instead of calling shotgun we battle it out over who gets to plug their phone in to the charger first πŸ˜‰

    • Jenn
      July 30, 2015 at 3:20 pm

      What blows my mind is that there are even bigger chargers; triple, quadruple etc!

  • Monica Bruno
    July 30, 2015 at 11:06 am

    What a great list, Jenn! I’m planning a trip in a couple of weeks and I’m going to make sure I go through this list again before I leave. And, OMG, I thought I was the ONLY one that had a problem with odd numbered lists (except 5, that number is okay)! πŸ˜‰

    • Jenn
      July 30, 2015 at 11:11 am

      5 is round, right? lol. We have a longer road trip coming up this weekend, so believe you me, I will be using this list for myself too!

  • Jonelle
    July 30, 2015 at 11:03 am

    Water and snacks! I always pack everything left in the house that could go off while we’re away… and that can be eaten in the car! Saves a tonne of money when you don’t have to stop at a convenience store on the way!

    Great list though!

    • Jenn
      July 30, 2015 at 11:05 am

      You know I’m always up for saving money πŸ˜‰ I wish I’d learned to bring our cooler earlier on in our relationship. To think of all the money we could have spent on other things!

  • CourtneyLynne
    July 29, 2015 at 11:34 pm

    Omg great list!!! Charger is so important! Trust me, I have forgotten mine before and Ughhh -_-

  • Rianna, Bohemian Wanderlust
    July 29, 2015 at 10:03 pm

    Dual chargers seriously come in handy! Great list of the essentials πŸ™‚ xo Rianna

  • Ashley
    July 29, 2015 at 12:51 pm

    Ah yes, taking a snapshot of the directions in case you lose signal. Learned that the hard way this last road trip! ????

    • Jenn
      July 29, 2015 at 1:38 pm

      That’s how we learned too. Driving in the Appalacians became real, real fast πŸ˜‰

  • Johanny Guillen-Casillas
    July 29, 2015 at 12:23 pm

    Love your ideas for traveling. Thanks for sharing!

    • Jenn
      July 29, 2015 at 1:37 pm

      Thank for stopping by, Johanny!

  • Popofstyle
    July 29, 2015 at 11:34 am

    Oh my god the dual charger is a life saver! A friend of mine had it last week when we went to Miami and I’m so glad she did!

    • Jenn
      July 29, 2015 at 11:46 am

      It’s so simple! There’s only two of us, but I remember that jaded feeling watching my battery die while his phone charged. No more! Lol.

  • Scott
    July 29, 2015 at 10:53 am

    Snacks! Stock up before you leave so you don’t have to pay inflated gas station prices.

    • Jenn
      July 29, 2015 at 11:47 am

      I always do that. I hate seeing a bag of chips for $3 that I know is under $1 at Walmart for the same (tiny) size.