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Woman kneeling on floor packing a suitcase.

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We all know how expensive traveling can be, but no one really seems to talk about how much it can cost to also purchase all of the travel essentials you need (especially travel essentials for women) to make sure you’re prepared and to make traveling easier and more convenient. 

If you’re frugal like me this might feel overwhelming.

Remember, frugal does not mean cheap. Frugal means you save money on the things that aren’t important and you spend more money on good quality items that bring value to your life.

Let’s discuss the must-have travel essentials you can save on and which ones you should splurge on!

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Must-Have Travel Essentials for Women

I haven’t led the most wanderlust life…in fact, I’ve barely traveled (aside from driving to the beach) until the past few years. 

But now I’ve caught the bug and since we’re debt-free I’ve been dreaming of all the places I want to take my family to make memories. 

What I’ve noticed is that I’m kind of high maintenance when it comes to traveling. I need to be organized and I want to be extra prepared. 

This means I’ve purchased quite a few pieces to help reduce my anxiety when traveling and making sure I have everything I need at all times.

This also means that I now am equipped to share my extensive research with you, my friend, to save you the time and effort of having to do it yourself.

I’m kind of crazy when it comes to products I want…I’ll read reviews (on different websites), watch YouTube videos all about them to better see how they function and I try to figure out which areas and products I can save some money on and which ones are worth spending a little extra for.

Travel Essentials to Save On 

Some travel essentials will get easily ruined and so I’d hate to see you spend a lot of money on those particular items and some just don’t matter as much. 

You don’t have to purchase high quality or brand-specific items.

You can save money on these items and grab the cheaper version since there is likely not too much difference between an expensive brand and a cheaper brand. 

Let’s chat about the travel essentials to save on.

Shoe Bags

While shoe bags are an awesome product and do a great job keeping your clothing and bags clean from dirt and germs we step in on the reg (ew), they’re also going to hold your shoes and all of the dirt and germs we just discussed. 

Now, admittedly, I’m a germophobe so maybe it’s just me but I would not spend a lot of money on high-quality shoe bags because this is an item that I would likely replace every so often anyway.

These are the shoe bags I use and I think they’re actually pretty decent quality for the price but not too expensive that I will be upset if they get something gooey stuck on them during a trip (shoulder shrug emoji)

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Packing Cubes

These have got to an organizer’s dream.  My husband always makes fun of me because I roll up all my clothing and pack them all up in packing cubes but these little things are lifechanging.  

That being said, I have noticed that a lot of the brand name packing cubes cost almost double the sets you can find on Amazon and I just don’t think the quality is that much greater to justify that much more money.  I just purchased this set and they worked great.

Suitcase

I can make an argument that a suitcase should be a splurge and/or a save item…Here are my supporting points.

If you check your suitcase most of the time it is going to get beat up…and quickly!  Have you ever watched the baggage handlers get your luggage to the baggage claim? They are literally throwing your suitcase onto the turnstile…it’s a wonder they don’t break in half right then and there. 

So my point is two-fold: If you are someone that gets upset when their pricier items get ruined or banged up then I suggest you opt for less expensive larger suitcases that you will check but the caveat is that you do get what you pay for so having a “cheap” bag might result in a handle or wheel getting busted easier, which can make traveling a mess.  

Opting for a more expensive and better quality bag may ensure your luggage can stand up to the harsh treatment through many more trips…even if it does look like it got its butt whooped.

Personally, I go middle of the road here…I recently purchased a CalPak suitcase at Marshall’s recently – it’s very similar in shape and price to this one.  I got a pretty good deal and only paid about half of its retail value so I saved some cash but also got a decent piece of luggage.  

It also wasn’t SO expensive that I’d be heartbroken if it broke and I had to purchase another piece in a few years, but of course, I hope it lasts me a long time.  While I don’t plan on checking this suitcase, only carry-ing it on with me, the very first time I traveled with it I was forced to gate check it twice.  

So the moral of the story is that even if you plan to keep your suitcase with you, safe and free from rough treatment, it’s still possible it will get some bumps and bruises at some time so make sure it’s durable enough to withstand that.

Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer.

ANONYMOUS

Toiletries

Back in the day, I think it was customary to go to the store before a vacation and purchase a travel size for every single toiletry you may need on your trip. 

Now listen, I’m the first one to ooh and ahh over how cute the mini deodorants and bottles of facewash are but here’s the thing…this stuff ain’t cheap anymore.

Just a quick glance in the travel-size toiletry section at Target or Ulta and you’ll find some items costing upwards of $10?  What in the actual?

You could easily spend over $50 (if not, more) just getting those sample-sized items for one trip.  Here’s how to avoid that. Do you know the large, regular-sized toiletries and products that you already own and use at home? 

I didn’t have to go hunting for travel sizes of all my favorite items, instead, I was able to save money and space by ordering a small set of plastic and silicone jars (which also came with two adorable mini spatulas).

Grab a set of these TSA approved travel bottles and jars and simply decant some of the product you’ve already purchased into these containers for your trip….easy peasy.

The sizes are already regulation so you don’t have to worry about that and you rarely need an entire bottle of something for your trip.  This way you don’t have to run out and spend a lot of money and after your trip, you can simply clean them out and refill them when you need to.

Don’t forget to grab a clear quart-sized bag to carry your liquids.  For this, I suggest either using a normal Ziploc bag (super cheap) or splurging for a decent quality bag.  The cheaper ones (that the travel bottles usually come in ) will fall apart very easily and you’ll end up having to purchase another one anyway…I like ones like these with an actual zipper.

stuffed grey suitcase with clothing and text that reads must-have travel essentials to save on

Travel Essentials to Splurge On

Other travel essentials just have to be of better quality. 

Here’s the thing…you can purchase the more expensive, better quality item and be sure that it will hold up, serve you in the capacity you need it to and stick around for the long haul or you can go the cheap route (as I did for most of my life) and end up having to purchase the item over and over again, essentially spending more money then you would have had you splurged on the good quality item in the first place.

Here are the travel essentials you might consider allocating a larger part of your budget towards.

Personal Item

Now, THIS is where I focus my money.  The personal item is where it’s at! This item that you’re allowed to carry onto the plane and stash under the seat in front of you is, in my opinion, the most important travel essential.  

This item is where you will keep alllll the things you may need during your flight, your bag of liquids for TSA, your food/drink, all your electronics, cords, and the list goes on and on.

Not only is it important for you to be able to fit everything you need but it’s also important that it is able to fit under the seat.  No one wants to have to stand up and access the overhead bins every time they need something.

This is where I decided to splurge and purchase a good quality duffel bag that checks all the boxes on my must-have list. 

I did a lot of research to find a great travel bag and I found that to get a good one I was going to have to put out a decent amount of money.  I settled on the Dagne Dover Landon Carryall in large

This bag cost me $185 (plus tax) and it was worth every cent.  It offers compartments and space for everything I need, has a protected space for my laptop, a key leash to keep my keys secure and a good deal of open space to hold all of my other pouches and organizers plus it comes with a zippered bag to stash shoes keeping the germs off all my other items.

It also has a trolley sleeve so it can easily slide over the handle of my carry-on suitcase relieving my back and shoulder of having to haul it around all day and even being almost full still fit under the plane seat.

This bag was a godsend on my last trip.  It also comes in an array of different sizes but ultimately I decided to go with the large so that I could also use it by itself on shorter weekend trips.

Their products are such a great mix of beauty and functionality and I love everything on their site.  

You can get 10% off your first order here. 

Why did I spend almost $200 on this bag?  

Well, I am a firm believer that being frugal means cutting back spending in areas that don’t matter much to you so you are freeing up money to be spent on things that are important to you, give you joy and add value to your life.

HAVE A RELAXING TRIP WITHOUT BUSTING YOUR BUDGET

How would it feel to actually enjoy traveling without worrying about how much money you’re spending?

Creating an intentional plan for your trip before you actually go on the trip will make sure you’re focusing your spending on the parts of your trip that matter most!

Click the button below for your free planner.

Memory Foam Pillow

I tried the around-the-neck pillows for years.  They stare at you throughout the airports with their cute little designs promising restful flights but I just don’t think these little semicircle foam neck braces are worth the money.  

I recently purchased an amazing memory foam travel pillow and I will never go back!  I was fortunate to find this sweet pillow at Marshall’s so it wasn’t quite a splurge for me but it is absolutely worth the retail price tag if you can’t find it at a discount. 

This pillow is the perfect size to toss in a duffel bag plus it really supports your head and neck if sitting up straight and also works great if you have a window seat and want to lean again the plane.  

This bad boy accompanied me on our two-day road trip this past summer and was a joy to sleep on when I wasn’t having to fight my kids for it.

Portable Charger

The $5 charging blocks in the Target Dollar Spot are super tempting but remember, you get what you pay for so if you want a phone battery that’s constantly dying during your trip then purchase a cheap phone charger.

Take it from me, who has learned this lesson the hard way, and splurge on a good quality portable charger for your phone and other electronics.  It will make your business trip much easier when your phone isn’t constantly dying during your important conference call.

I finally wised up and grabbed one of these and it hasn’t failed me in years!

Reusable Water Bottle

Ok, so this isn’t necessarily a “splurge” per se but I do suggest bringing your own reusable water bottle (empty, of course) and make sure it’s good quality because if not it may leak in your bag and possibly ruin the contents.

I have a couple of these and they work great!  Stay cold for a while and never leak! I also love this super slim bottle because it’s much lighter and fits great in any purse or bag.

These are the major items that I wanted to share my thoughts on after having to purchase a ton of travel items the past few months.  I hope this list helped you determine where to spend your money and where to save. 

🤑 NEED SOME EXTRA CASH?!? 🤑
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Owner | Founder at Cents + Purpose | Website

Kristin Stones is the owner of Cents + Purpose, an online community dedicated to sharing practical personal finance content. Her mission is to equip women with the necessary tools and knowledge to take back control of their money and live a more purposeful life. She creates actionable content to help her audience achieve financial wellness using her simple approach to managing money - all learned through her personal experience of paying off almost $55,000 of debt in under two years.

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