49 Dollar Tree Trip Packing Essentials (Includes Shopping List)
Updated: Jun 18, 2022
Most items needed for your trip can be picked up super cheap at Dollar Tree for a third or less than you’d spend at a pharmacy or department store. Plus, you can probably get everything in one trip, saving you time and money!
As both a travel agent and a traveler, I believe our trips' financial investment should go toward what will make the trip the most enjoyable, memorable, and comfortable. How much I spend on ibuprofen, toothpaste, and tissues isn't going to make a difference in the memories I'll have for years of my trip. Or yours.
In addition to saving money, many of your toiletries and other small items you need can be found at a Dollar Tree, saving you multiple stops in other stores. Even with this year's pricing jump from $1 to $1.25, this store may be your best travel budget, shopping, and packing resource.
I’ve created a list of items by category that you may need or want. You're actually going to see many more things than the 49 that I promised. I’ll also add some thoughts that I believe you may find helpful. Lastly, I'm including a link to a handy printable Dollar Tree Vacation Shopping List to help you plan your shopping trip.
Dollar Tree carries a lot of options to keep adults and children entertained. Particularly when flying, it’s helpful to have activity choices to keep people occupied in airports and planes.
Puzzle books (crossword, sudoku, word find)
Stickers & temporary tattoos
I love my Kindle and Audible apps, but there’s something nice about holding an “old-fashioned” book or magazine when on vacation. And I’m happy to leave those behind in a ship’s library, cabin, hotel room or lobby, or in an airport for someone else to enjoy them. Even if you’re not a big puzzle book person, these can help kill time when flying and could even become a new hobby. Why the toys, stickers, and tattoos?
A “new toy” can be a sanity-saver when traveling with a bored child on a plane, bus, or train. Stickers and temporary tattoos can also be fun or used as bribery. (Yes, I have experience with bribing my sons on trips when they were young.) Just be sure that the stickers aren’t left on something that makes housekeeping try to scrape off memories of your family from furniture and walls.
One of the best ways to avoid illness when traveling has always been diligent with handwashing and cleaning.
Small sanitizer bottles and antibacterial wipes in ziplock bags are great traveling companions when you wish you could wash your hands, but can’t. And disinfectant wipes come in handy for wiping down your armrests and tables on planes, handles, and TV remotes in hotel rooms and ship cabins, as well as toilet knobs and seats.
COMFORT & SAFETY ITEMS
These are the type of things you’ll want to pick up from Dollar Tree that you’ll appreciate in a pinch.
Face masks & face shields
If you like to have a small light on at night, you could keep your bathroom light on with the door cracked, but a nightlight would be better. A flashlight is a great tool that’s helpful at night, especially if there’s a loss of electricity. This may be an item rarely needed but, wow, can it really be beneficial when needed. And don’t forget the batteries! Another helpful item is an air freshener for your bathroom. To avoid the potential mess of a gell or liquid, pick up a car freshener.
A sleep mask (eye mask) and earplugs make a difference when trying to sleep on planes, in noisy places, and napping in a cabin or room that doesn’t get dark enough. Another comfort item on a plane is a pair of socks to keep your feet warm if you take your shoes off.
Speaking of feet, you’ll likely do more walking than usual, so those cushion insoles help your feet and stamina.
The small folded-up ponchos are a terrific item to put in your back pocket, bag, or purse. I’ve appreciated those twice. Once, when I was on a boat excursion in the Caribbean and the other in an Alaskan port. Although it wasn’t cold in Ketchikan in June, it was too cold to be walking around while wet. These rain ponchos will help keep you dry without taking a lot of packing space.
Some travelers enjoy personalizing their cabin or room. Some enjoy having a touch of home with them.
Decorations for your cabin
Flameless tea lights
Not everyone wants to decorate their cruise cabin. However, it’s a popular activity for some travelers, and I’ve seen photos of very decked-out cruise ship cabins. Perhaps you want to celebrate your traveling companion’s birthday or holiday, or you enjoy making your room into your castle. A dollar store is the most economical place to shop for decorating on your vacation.
Flameless candles can do the job of a nightlight. They can also lend a lovely ambiance to your accommodations. While I’ve not seen regular-sized flameless candles at our favorite dollar store, I have picked up flameless tea lights there.
Why a picture frame? I’ve had many clients tell me they take a photo of their family or dog or cat on vacation. Why not put their photo in a frame on the vanity or night table by your bed?
FOOD & BEVERAGE ITEMS
Plan ahead to pick these up from your local Dollar Tree, so you don’t end up paying airport prices for these purchases.
Reusable water bottle
Coffee travel mug
Not only can a reusable water bottle save you money over buying bottles of water, but it’s also much better for the environment that you’re out enjoying. And since ship tap water is clean and safe to drink, filling up your bottle when cruising saves you money.
Snacks for in the car, airplane, train, bus, and hotel room can be picked up at much lower prices at Dollar Tree. But why did I list lollipops separately? Babies’ ears will “pop” more easily on a plane when sucking on a pacifier or bottle or when they are nursing. But for older kids, a lollipop can be a huge help in clearing their ears and relieving their pain.
HEALTH & BEAUTY ITEMS
This may be the most significant area in which you can save money by travel shopping at Dollar Tree.
First Aid kit
TSA will allow you to bring one 1-quart-size ziplock bag of liquids, gels and aerosols no larger than 3.4 ounces into the passenger cabin of a plane. Medication is an exception. Any other liquids and gels must be packed in your check-in luggage.
Here’s where you want to consider stocking up on your deodorant, shampoo, and other toiletries.
If you’re already a Dollar Tree shopper, you’re aware they carry a vast array of OTC meds including ibuprofen, acetaminophen, laxatives and vitamins. They carry medicines for allergies, upset stomachs. diarrhea, cough, cold, sinus, and more.
Are you wondering why I included a washcloth on the list? People around much of the world wonder about American’s “obsession” with washcloths (also known as “face cloths” and “flannels”) and ice. You’ll find washcloths to be fully available on cruises. But if you stay at hotels on other continents, you may be surprised to not have them in your room. Best to take one or two and a ziplock in which to put damp ones.
I don’t like to trust that I’ll have ready access when I need even simple items, so I always pack pens and paper.
Duct or shipping tape
If you are going on a cruise, a highlighter comes in handy for highlighting activities you don’t want to miss on the daily activity sheets. A small roll of duct or shipping tape is an item you could easily overlook but, if something tears or breaks, you’ll be glad to have it.
STORAGE & ORGANIZATION
The more organized you are, the better your packing will go and the more comfortable you will be in your “temporary travel home.”
Refillable toiletry bottles
Ziplock freezer bags
Mesh laundry bag
Magnetic metal clips
If traveling outside the U.S., for you to pack your OTC and prescription meds in their original packages. The pill organizers are excellent for storing your earrings, particularly studs.
All of my liquids and aerosols that get packed are put into ziplock bags. It only takes one trip of having your clothing affected by a leaking bottle. My experience was a long weekend smelling like my hairspray. Never again! Ziplocks also help with organizing, packing, and separating dirty and wet clothing. I’ve found that the freezer bags hold up much better.
A mesh laundry bag can store your dirty clothes while letting them air out a bit. Over-the-door hooks can assist with extra space.
Magnetic metal clips are one of my favorite travel packing hacks for cruising. The cabin walls are metal. By hanging your papers (shore excursion tickets, daily activity papers, order forms, invitations, etc.), you give yourself more space, and everything is neater.
I named these as “spare parts” because, is many cases, these aren’t always the quality I’d likely trust as my primary items. But in case I forget one of them or my main one breaks, having a cheap “spare” that I didn’t invest much money into is helpful and much cheaper than replacing in an airport, tourist destination, resort or on a cruise ship.
Spare phone charger
Spare reading glasses
Flip-flops can also double as slippers. Pack your "spare" earbuds, charger and glasses separately from your main ones so you do have a set even if a suitcase gets lost.
You can visit Dollar Tree online to help plan your shopping trip along with our printable list.
An added way to save time and money is to have a “trip” container for items that are reusable or which don’t expire. Tucked in the back of my closet is a Sterlite container where I toss items that are used for trips. I first raid this treasure chest before seeing what I need to buy. Travel toothbrushes, toothpaste, small tissue packs, and small toiletry containers are among what's in there waiting for the next time I travel.
Download and print your free Dollar Tree Vacation Shopping Checklist.
It's designed so you can personalize it as needed for you and your trip.
Do you need a gift for a traveler family member or friend? Consider putting together a gift bag or gift basket of travel-related items from this article. Click here for more travel gift ideas.
Contact us for your next cruise or group motorcoach tour vacation so we can share many more travel tips with you.
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P.S. I have been asked if I'm in an affiliate program with Dollar Tree. The answer is "no." I have four of their locations close by my home and find myself there often to save money. :-)