Great Items to Stock Up on For Your Next Family Vacation

stinkin' pink

Photo Credit: Simple Tess

Summer brings those fun annual family vacations which can also bring along with it lots of cost and stress to a family. With all of my traveling for my business, we haven’t had the opportunity to take a family vacation yet, but are looking forward to doing a little jet-setting of our own this summer.

Certainly, thrift store shopping might not come to mind when buying items for your next vacation, but if there is anything I have learned when it comes to saving money, Goodwill is my first stop when I need to do a little shopping for a trip.

Here are just a few things to check your store for when off on your next vacation.

Upgrade Your Luggage Pieces- Does your suitcase and carry-on bag need updating? Goodwill is a fantastic place to check for these items and you will be surprised at the variety of great choices you will have. Bring a tape measure along with you and measure the suitcase to see if the suitcases you are looking at can meet TSA standards. If you are planning to carry-on your luggage with you, the largest allowed size for carry-on bags is 22×14×19 inches. With careful planning and strategic packing though you can maximize your thrift store suitcase and shave approximately $50 off on your next round trip flight by carrying on your luggage versus checking it in.

If you are traveling as a family, divide the luggage up between each family member and consider hunting for one small roller bag for each child that they will be able to maneuver themselves. The bonus is that they can use that bag for years to come, making it easy to recoup your travel investment within just one trip!

Macro Game Piece Monday

Photo Credit: Marcus Lam

Fight Hotel Boredom- If you are planning a road trip, there is nothing worse than being stuck in a hotel room with nothing to do. Consider adding a few new-to-you board games to your collection just for your trip. I try to get our board games at Goodwill because it is a great way for me to try them out without making a huge investment. Look for classic games like Scrabble, Upwords, checkers, Yahtzee, Connect 4, Clue, Monopoly, Life, and Rummikub for family entertainment on the go!

You can also look for books for the kids to read, DVD’s for the car ride there, and even a few new tunes to listen to along the way. No road trip was complete in my family without a little Ray Charles and, “Hit the Road, Jack.” Perhaps, you can find an album that your kids too can moan and groan about just as me & my siblings did when my dad would pop in that old cassette tape. Ah, vacation memories!

The entertainment possibilities are endless and the thrift store prices will allow you to splurge on a little bit of great fun for your trip.

souvenir shop

Photo Credit: Whitney Arlene

Save on Souvenirs- If there is one thing that can break the vacation budget, it is definitely buying souvenirs at the souvenir shops. Consider putting away a few fun toys that you can give to your children in lieu of the pricey souvenirs. Planning a trip to Disney? Look for a few Disney souvenirs at Goodwill rather than splurging at Disney! Focus your souvenirs on free items like shells from the beach, or taking funny photos in the souvenir shops, grabbing a little sand from your favorite beaches, or substituting with a few well-chosen thrift store pieces that will help to keep the budget on happy and keep the kids content.

Create a Fun Vacation Wardrobe- The need to splurge on a new wardrobe always happens when I have somewhere new to go especially if the climate will be different than the Midwestern weather I am accustomed to. Check the store for a few wardrobe updates that won’t cost you a lot. Accessories like sun hats, scarves, a skinny belt, sunglasses, jewelry, or sandals can all be found at Goodwill for your entire family. I love to spice up the pieces I already have with these easy accessories that won’t take a lot of space in my luggage.

Don’t forget to also look for layering pieces like cardigans or shawls that you can use to keep yourself warm in the evenings or on your flight. A good basic layering piece is worthy of every inch of space in your carry-on bag and can make your flight and the cooler evenings much more comfortable.

What are some ways that you use Goodwill to save on your vacations? We would love to hear your ideas!

Amy Allen Clark is the Founder of, a web community where she shares advice on parenting, money-saving ideas, recipes, and solutions for work-at-home moms. Visit her site for more ideas on ways to live on a frugal budget!