Purchasing a bunch of unnecessary items and then overpacking for a trip won’t just annoy your traveling companions and give you a sore arm from lugging around a heavy suitcase. It can also blow your limited vacation money.
Here’s what not to buy for your next vacation so you can save both money and time.
1. Travel-size products
Avoid travel-size products, says Tracy Stewart, content editor of travel deal site Airfarewatchdog.com. Travel sizes can be enticing and easier to pack, but they’re not typically economical.
“They’re not very smart to buy in terms of cost,” Stewart says. “They’re really only slightly less than the full-size versions, and usually they contain just a fraction of the actual product.”
It often makes better financial sense to stock up on necessities after you arrive at your destination, says Stephen Solosky, founder of TravelingProfessor.com and professor emeritus of math at Nassau Community College.
Waiting to buy such items could help you avert checked-bag fees, says Solosky, who has lasted 45 days on a trip with only a carry-on. His first stop when he lands? The supermarket. Remember, he says, you’re not going to another planet. You can buy most everything you would get at home while you’re away.
2. Typical hotel amenities
Read this tip before you make a Target or Walmart run to stock up on trip supplies. Skip any products you can get free in your hotel room, suggests Jessica Sanders, a frequent traveler and founder of The Happiest Blog on Earth.
Sanders recommends calling the hotel where you’ll be staying ahead of time to see which items it regularly places in the rooms. It may provide guests with shampoo, conditioner, soap and even makeup remover wipes, she says.
3. Duplicate items
Solosky and Sanders both say to ask the other members of your group what they’ll be bringing on the trip with them. For some items, you can share. That’ll save money and room in your luggage, too.
You may be able to borrow your daughter’s flatiron or buy one tube of toothpaste to share with your spouse, for instance.
4. Workout attire
If you’re going to a warm or tropical destination, don’t bother wasting money and space on a bulky towel. Most resorts and cruises have beach towels available, Sanders says. But as with the hotel amenities, check with your destination ahead of time.
Similarly, buy and pack yoga pants or running shoes only if you’re certain you’ll use them. Avid exercisers can benefit from them, but if you’re hoping to kick-start a workout regimen on vacation, you might be better off waiting until you’re back.
“If it’s just wishful thinking, leave them at home,” Sanders says.
If you’re traveling internationally, buy and bring fewer clothing items and do laundry (check online for laundromats near your destination before you depart). The plus side? It’s a great way to meet the locals, Solosky says.
5. Anything valuable or brand-new
When possible, bring used items from home, as opposed to buying new.
Solosky often shops at secondhand stores before his trips. That way, if he pays only $1 for a T-shirt, he has no problem leaving it overseas. If you don’t want to throw things away, consider donating apparel and supplies you no longer need.
In a sense, traveling smart is as much about what you pack when you start out as it is about what you pack on your way home. “It’s not what I bring, it’s what I leave when I get there,” Solosky says.
So what about every other category of item you might be thinking of buying? To keep purchasing in check, Sanders says to ask yourself: What would be hard to replace at your destination if you left it behind?
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Courtney Jespersen is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: email@example.com. Twitter: @CourtneyNerd.
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