The Traveling Teacher

Holly McElwee

Contributing Columnist

I’m typically a proponent of traveling light and buying items along the way during vacation. However, it recently occurred to me that there are certain trips when “buying as you go” isn’t a great financial plan, especially when the final destination is a resort or cruise ship. Also, making purchases at the airport breaks the bank every time. I’ve learned the hard way to NOT buy these items on the road.

1. Sunscreen. Buying brand-name sunscreen at full price isn’t cheap, even here in Ohio. Buying sunscreen at the airport or a resort will cost a pretty penny, so it’s best to buy before leaving home.

2. Earbuds. Last summer I had the misfortune of leaving my earbuds at home, and I didn’t realize it until I got to the airport. In some circumstances I would’ve just suffered through without them, but this was the beginning of a 10-day international trip, and I really wanted earbuds. So, I broke down and bought incredibly overpriced ones from an electronics store at the airport. The only good thing about this pocketbook-gutting purchase was that I like the earbuds, so that softened the blow over time.

3. Phone/laptop/tablet charger. Similarly to the forgotten earbuds, buying any type of electronic charger will cost almost twice the amount as it would at a local store. The charger is a necessity, so double-check this one before stepping out the door.

4. Snacks. I experience sticker shock every time I purchase snacks at the airport. And most airlines have gotten very stingy with their on-board snacks and drinks, so it’s worth it to stash some prepackaged goodies in the carry-on bag. I also pack granola bars in my checked bags. I’ve survived many trips, especially international ones, all due to granola bars.

5. Drinks. This is a tough one due to airport security. There’s no way to get around the “no liquids” rule. However, I’ve saved some money by purchasing a water bottle after the security checkpoint and refilling it at a drinking fountain. This can also be done with an empty reusable water bottle brought from home. I also bring my own drinks to hotels and resorts. Buying a drink anywhere in a hotel or resort costs a fortune.

6. Books and Magazines. In desperate times, I’ll buy a book at the airport; but otherwise, I buy before I leave home. Even better, I buy and download books to my tablet over a (hopefully free) wi-fi connection enroute. I also hit the library ahead of time to grab a few easy-to-carry paperbacks. Reading material for a vacation should be cheap, not books purchased at premium prices.

7. Umbrella. Woe to me on a recent trip to New York City. It rained, and I hadn’t packed an umbrella or raincoat. Conveniently, the hotel sold umbrellas. Sadly, I paid way too much. If there’s any chance of rain, throw a small umbrella in the suitcase.

8. Bathing suit. It’s difficult enough to find a good-looking bathing suit under the best of circumstances. Trying to purchase one on vacation is torture to the self-esteem and the wallet.

9. Sunglasses. My husband forgot his sunglasses on a trip to Peru last summer. That airport purchase equaled the price of several Peruvian meals! Buying sunglasses on the road is a huge tourist trap.

10. Painkillers. They’re easy to find in a resort or at the airport, but paying twice as much for them increases my headache! I never leave home without an overabundance of ibuprofen in my bag.

As with any trip, preplanning and organized packing are key. I like to save a few of my precious dollars and spend them on the fun parts of the vacation, not all the items that got left behind!

Holly McElwee

Contributing Columnist

Contact Holly McElwee at [email protected]

Contact Holly McElwee at [email protected]

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