No, this isn’t going to be a post about how I put breakfast and booze in my suitcase to save money. That kind of packing isn’t necessary here. We’re taking Mr. P’s favorite kind of trip where he can eat so much that people marvel at his ability to not throw up: an international all-inclusive vacation. Now let’s talk packing.
While this is only our third all-inclusive vacation, we’ve gotten pretty good at packing to save some serious cash. First things first. If you’re looking at your suitcase and wondering how everything will fit, let me help. Pack half as much clothing and twice as much money as you think you’ll need. I’m serious. No one cares if you wear the same dress or swim trunks two days in a row. You’re headed on vacation to make memories, not to have a fashion show. Plus, it’ll be hot. And humid. And there’s probably a pool with a swim-up bar and a bartender who your husband will spend more time socializing with than you. I kid. We both socialize with the bartender.
Now, I’m not going to detail every single thing we pack. Instead, I want to highlight what has made our traveling much more pleasant and what has given me a lot of peace of mind. Whether you’re planning on playing beach bum for a week straight or headed out on a bunch of adventures, don’t forget these essentials:
Sun & Pests
- Bug spray
- After-Bite/itch relief
I’ve seen sunscreen, aloe, and bug spray sell for over $30 a bottle each. Ouch. In fact, two years ago, our resort in Punta Cana actually sold out of their sunscreens above 15 SPF. You’ll also want to do your research. There are many places that request or require biodegradeable reef-safe sunscreen. You can scoop up a bottle at Whole Foods for about $8 or you could order online. And Whole Paycheck’s prices pale in comparison to what I watched people pay for one little blob at a cenote last summer.
- Stomach medicine
- Pain medicine
- Cold medicine
- Bandages and Neosporin
We’ve never gotten sick traveling (excuse me while I knock on every piece of wood inside my house), but it never hurts to be prepared. Trip Advisor is littered with proof that people can and do get sick. I suspect a fair amount of people bring these tummy troubles on themselves by drinking the water, but better to prepare for it.
- Ear plugs
- Stain remover
- Clorox wipes
If you’re traveling to a beach destination, there’s a decent chance that your room will have the salty-air smell. Your room might even get a bit damp. A $1 Glade deodorizer mitigates a lot of that smell if it’s really bothersome. And this is super selfish because I’m really tired of reading Trip Advisor reviews of people complaining that their ocean-facing room smells like the ocean. I also throw Clorox wipes and stain remover cloths in my bag — the former because I can be a little obsessive and the latter because I can be a little messy.
- Snack bars
I understand it is wholly counterintuitive to pack food in a suitcase when you’re traveling to an all-inclusive resort, but hear me out. If you book a day trip, you are the mercy of your guide, traffic, and horses or ziplines or swordfish in terms of that day’s schedule. Having a few snacks in your backpack can go a long way. You can always eat them on the airplane on the way home, too.
Items for the Elements
- Flip flops or water shoes
- Closed shoes & long pants
It was pushing 95 when we were walking through Chichen Itza last summer taking in all the breathtaking history and a dark cloud appeared out of nowhere, unleashing torrential rains. Without warning, vendors descended on everyone, hawking ponchos for $5 or even $10 each. And people clamored for them! Before I could even
contemplate selling mine asking Mr. P to take mine out of his backpack, he handed me my 2 for $1 dollar store poncho. I truly think if we stocked up, we could probably bankroll our vacation re-selling them to unprepared tourists.
As far as the other items go, we’re obviously both fans of backpacks. Sometimes, we both wear ours. Other times, Mr. P wishes we had a prenup with a backpack clause written in. You’d also be surprised by the fair amount of day trips that require or request closed-toe shoes and long pants.
So Tell Me…What are your must-pack items for vacation? What has been your favorite trip, all-inclusive or otherwise?