1. Laughed out loud about the $2 for 1 ponchos. I carry them in my purse… Such great suggestions – each and every one of them. I totally get the packing the granola bars too for the excursions. Things don’t always go as planned (and I have trouble eating food on those sometimes) and a few protein bars can get you through the day (and allow you to drink the free drinks too!) Even if you have to pay for a checked bag, your points are incredibly valid. There are just some things to bring from home – it saves time too from having to run around and find all those things! Enjoy your vacation!! Can’t wait to hear about it!

  2. Great tips, Penny! We have never vacationed at an all-inclusive but once you are out sight-seeing at common attractions, the cost of these items can get out of hand. And even at home or vacationing in the U.S., these are great items to have on hand. I always keep sunscreen, bugspray, and snacks in my car so we don’t have to stop for those items or remember to pack them each time we leave home. We love the $1 ponchos–and I love your joke about selling them to unprepared tourists!

    • A joke. Yes. That’s totally what it was. I actually made the mistake of sharing that thought with my husband, and now I’m going to have to check his backpack! Ha!

  3. That’s a great list of must haves.
    With 3 kids (6 and under) our car is full of items when we go on holidays.
    So at this stage of my life the must have items that we must have for a long trip is entertainment for the kids! and coffee! 😉

  4. Jon and I are both really nearsighted, so back in the pre-kid days when we traveled regularly, we bought prescription snorkeling masks. It definitely made snorkeling (our favorite vacation activity) more fun. While some snorkeling guides/rental shops have prescription masks, they usually only have a limited number and they weren’t always in our prescription, so it was a good idea for us.

      • stephanie

        we actually bought our own snorkeling equipment on Amazon and take it with us on beach vacations – and of course it pays for itself after two uses compared to the cost of renting it in many places – plus, you don’t have something that’s been in someone else’s mouth and cleaned (?). Also, and this is the biggest reason – the rentals 99% of the time don’t have the safety valve at the top of the snorkel to prevent you from inhaling (not swallowing water) which is a drowning risk . . . .

  5. These are great tips! We also bring a little repair kit with safety pins, a small roll of duct tape, and a sewing kit. Extra hair ties, a spare pair of contacts, and a bottle of eye drops come in handy too.

  6. Ernie

    This is bringing up traumatic memories of my wife and I packing for our trip to Colombia until the wee hours of the morning before we left. Aye caramba we packed WAAAAAAY too much!!!!!!

  7. This is both amazing and hilarious! Sunscreen is so important to take with you – I think we took four normal sized bottles the last time we went for two of us. I’m finally starting to get better at packing snacks while traveling – so key if you’re hungry while the restaurants are closed. Two bathing suits if you can is really nice so you aren’t wearing a wet bathing suit the next time. And a bag to carry stuff down to the beach (hello free cloth shopping bags). An Ethernet cable can be useful still while traveling in older places. We also save movies and TV shows to our Apple TV or Roku and then take that with us plus an HDMI cable for entertainment.

  8. Great thoughts on what to pack. My wife is super organized so she’s usually the packer of these sorts of things. My favorite vacation of all was at a Cancun all-inclusive a few years ago. We didn’t make it to Chichen Itza, but that’s just a good excuse to go back! …and we’ll be sure to bring some dollar store ponchos.

  9. Okay, this is an excellent list. I am definitely always forgetting to pack these essentials when going on vacation and end up having to buy things on the spot, especially sunscreen.

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