BUDGET TRAVEL ADVICE
8 Common Vacations: the Surprising Things You'll Need (and the Things You Won't)
Your standard packing checklist will only get you so far. From theme parks to weekend getaways to cruising, we’ll show you what specific items to pack—and what to leave at home—for eight common vacation types. You might be surprised by what we’ve uncovered!
Bring: Top-shelf liquor
Sure, all-inclusives may be all-you-can-drink, but they're often more about quantity than quality. Because some resorts have contracts with local brewers or suppliers, the drinks included in the package price might not be premium quality. Many resorts, like the Sugar Bay Resort & Spa in St. Thomas or Bali's Meliá Benoa, will state this up front, but others are craftier. Always scan vacation packages for references to "local" or "house" liquor. If you're hoping, for example, to toast a special occasion with a nice bottle of champagne, it's a good idea to bring one into the resort yourself.
Leave at home: Tip money
Most all-inclusives will save you from constantly reaching for singles by including gratuities in the package price. In fact, some resorts actually ban employees from accepting any money from guests. No matter how grateful you are towards the bellboy for lugging 12 bags up to your hotel room, you'll have to suppress your generous instincts. Again, the policy isn't necessarily consistent; both Sandals and Mexico's Karisma Hotels & Resorts, for example, include gratuities in their upfront prices, but smaller resort operators may diverge from this policy. Make sure you know their expectations before you book, and if there's any doubt, contact them directly and ask.
Packing a painkiller for a ski vacation might seem like a no-brainer—but it's not just for those après-ski aches. Earlier this year, a study published in the Annals of Emergency Medicine reported that the drug could prevent the fatigue, headaches, and nausea that characterize altitude sickness, with fewer negative side effects than drugs like Diamox that specifically target the illness. The study found that ibuprofen reduced the probability of altitude sickness by 25 percent at altitudes from 4,100 to 12,570 feet, a range that encompasses most top skiing areas, including Breckenridge, Whistler Blackcomb, and Switzerland's Zermatt.
Leave at home: Your ski gear
Skis, boots, and poles aren't exactly compact, so nix the U-Haul and rent your equipment on-site. It might be cheaper than you'd expect: Ski Country Resorts & Sports in Breckenridge, for example, offers packages from $21 per day for a full set of gear, and less if you bring some items on your own and rent piecemeal. The deal looks even rosier if you're flying to the slopes. Ski equipment will count as your first piece of checked luggage and can lead to fees of $50 for a domestic roundtrip on Delta or American.