Money Saving Tips Travel

What to Pack on a Frugal Holiday

What to Pack on a Frugal Holiday
Written by Irina Vasilescu

When we’re about to go on vacation, we often get carried away with pre-holiday shopping. After all, we want to look and feel our best, and have great holiday pics to show off when we get home. We also end up taking way too much stuff with us, and any holiday shopping and souvenirs end up translating into exorbitant charges for having overweight baggage.
So instead of shopping for your next trip, check out these frugal packing tips. You’ll have everything you need, and plenty of room for holiday purchases! Because you will shop, it’s inevitable!

Carry-on only?

Yes! It is doable, and it will save you time and money. You also don’t have to worry about lost luggage. There’s nothing worse than arriving at your destination only to find you have nothing but the clothes you’re wearing at the time.

If you decide you really need hold-luggage too, make sure that you pack one or two changes of clothes and underwear in your carry-on bag – just to be on the safe side! But be aware, fares can vary if you have too many luggage.

Mix and match

Choose clothing that allows you to mix and match. You can create a whole new look just by teaming up a different top with your skirt or pants.

  • Pick several pretty tops and three or four simple things to team them up with.
  • Choose light fabrics that don’t need ironing so that you can just give clothes a quick wash in the basin and save on expensive hotel laundry charges.
  • Two or three pairs of shoes should be ample. Pick flats that work for evening or day wear.
  • Make sure everything matches to maximize your combo options.

Be ready for weather changes

You don’t want to end up freezing or soaking wet because the weather isn’t playing along all the time. There’s a great website called that will help you to scope out the weather you can expect. It gives you averages, the highest and lowest temperatures, and rainfall details. All the same, weather can be ‘interesting’, so add a few basics:

  • A disposable rain poncho is a must. Keep it in your handbag. It’s cheap, and it folds up small.
  • For summer holidays, include a light sweater in a neutral shade and a lightweight, wind resistant jacket.
  • For winter breakaways, pick a warm coat that goes with everything and layer up with thermal underwear.
  • If possible, wear any bulky clothing on the plane to save packing space.

Smart toiletries tips

There is absolutely no point in packing full sized shower gel, face wash, shampoo etc. The same goes for body lotion and even perfume.
Most product packaging isn’t really designed for the rough and tumble of travel. You don’t want to open your bag and find you have to launder everything because of leakages. Besides, TSA regulations only allow for a small volume of liquids in carry-on baggage.

  • There are some really cool, leak-proof silicone tubes for travelers that let you take along your favorite products in limited amounts for your trip. They’re cheap, and you’ll use them every time you travel, so they’re a good investment.
  • If you don’t mind taking your chances with hotel toiletries, do so. After all, it’s free.
  • Regular brands aren’t all that expensive, so many frugal travelers choose to get some of their toiletries on arrival.
  • Get travel-size perfume bottles or get a lipstick-sized atomizer and decant some perfume from a regular sized bottle.
  • Collect free samples of cosmetics and toiletries wherever you can. They’re great for travel!

Your beach vacation

Being sun-savvy can save you a lot of money. Although baking in the sun may be tempting, a trip to a doctor for sunstroke or third-degree sunburn should be avoided!

  • Get a good sunblock. For traveling, choose a sunscreen stick rather than a lotion. It’s compact, can’t leak and it goes a long way.
  • A sarong has multiple uses, and keeping the sun off your head or shoulders is one of them!
  • Get a foldable cloth hat with a wide brim for extra sun protection.
  • If you don’t mind rinsing your swimsuit out in the evenings and wearing it again even if it’s a little damp, one swimsuit will do. If not, pack two.
our secrets to a cheap beach vacation

Planning some fun in the sun? Read: Our Secrets to a Cheap Beach Vacation!

Your cash and cards

Before you leave, check whether your cards will work and what the charges will be. Compare this with exchange fees. Some banking packages allow you to draw local currency or use your credit card for less than the exchange fees you’d usually pay; others cost more. Do take a little local currency along for emergencies and to spend on arrival. Local trade deals may be cheaper than using currency agencies after you arrive.

At the airport and on the plane

Everything cost more at airports and on planes, so pack a few snacks in your hand luggage in case you need to nibble. Check the list of things you may and may not take in your hand luggage to avoid having things confiscated. You can always get things like nail files or nail scissors when you arrive at your destination.

Holiday and return journey

There are a few other odds and ends you should add to your luggage. They don’t take much space, and they can save you money on your holiday and return journey.

  • Take any prescription drugs you use along. You won’t want to see a doctor just to get a prescription!
  • A few painkillers, disinfectant wipes and band aids will save you from buying a whole pack if you find yourself needing them while on holiday.
  • A beach bag or carry bag that folds flat in your luggage will be a help on shopping trips and excursions.
  • Take a few extra ziplock bags. They come in handy for everything from seashells to sealing away dirty laundry.

What would you pack for a frugal holiday? Share your tips!

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What to Pack on a Frugal Holiday

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About the author

Irina Vasilescu

Irina Vasilescu is our money-saving and DIY expert and also the editor-in-chief as she's always on the lookout for the latest online deals.


  • If you can get away with not taking any luggage with you then I would suggest that this is certainly a great idea, as that can save you a lot of money. It is perfect if you’re only going on a short holiday, or perhaps if you’re going somewhere where you would be able to stay on the resort at all times, as this means that you would only need to pack what you need to wear there. Airport charges can be extortionate, but by cutting down on what you choose to take with you, you should certainly be able to avoid a lot of these much of the time.

  • I know a friend who used an airline and he was shocked at the charge for extra bags. One time I used a maritime bus to get 6 hours away and got charged for the extra bag I had, wasn’t a huge fee though. Now I try to pack just 1 bag unless its traveling with my car then I don’t need to worry so much.

  • I read an article in one of the ladies glossy mags a couple of years ago about one of their contributors who had taken up the challenge to take a short break to the sun, using only items she got free in magazines! She did pretty well and ended up with flip flops, a sarong, sun hat, sun glasses and other bits and pieces.

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