15 Items You Should Never Buy on Vacation

SAVING & SPENDING - TRAVEL
Some items that you buy on vacation are too expensive. Others are likely to end up a disappointment.
Updated April 11, 2024
Fact checked
woman sitting at the beachfront of hotel resort swimming pool

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When you're on vacation, it's easy to let your guard down and spend more money than you usually would. After all, you're taking a break from work and everyday life — it's natural to want to enjoy yourself.

However, that doesn't mean you should go overboard and buy things you don't need. It is all too easy to overspend during a vacation and scramble for ways to pay off your debt later.

Following are 15 things travelers often purchase during a vacation that might not be the wisest buys.

Cheaply made souvenirs

Song_about_summer/Adobe small Eiffel towers for sale

It's tempting to want to bring home a physical reminder of your trip, but it's not worth it if the item is going to fall apart as soon as it is in your luggage. So, avoid cheaply made souvenirs that may break easily.

If you want to buy a souvenir, make sure it's something that is both meaningful and likely to last.

Snacks at airports

Iryna Budanova/Adobe  WHSmith storefront in Athens International Airport

You'll likely be charged more for food and drinks at airports than you would if you bought them elsewhere.

If you often feel peckish on vacation, it's best to pack a few snacks before leaving for the airport. Doing so is one of the easiest ways to save money while traveling.

Car rental insurance

Oleksandr/Adobe full car outdoor parking in selective focus

You might be tempted to buy car rental insurance when you pick up your vehicle. However, such coverage is often unnecessary, as your vehicle insurance policy might cover rentals. Some credit cards also offer this coverage if you use the card to pay for the rental.

Pro tip: Remember to check with your credit card company or personal insurance policy before buying additional insurance. Some of the best travel credit cards will already have you covered.

Electronics

serguastock/Adobe Broken charger cable with smart phone

Items such as phone chargers, plugs, and batteries are often overpriced at airports and gift shops. Remember to do your research and pack what you need for your trip, so you don't have to pay inflated prices.

If you forget to pack something, buying it at a local store near your destination — rather than the airport — is typically better.

Full-size toiletries

zigres/Adobe Woman preparing travel kit for transporting cosmetics

You likely won't need full-size toiletries. While they may offer the best deal, it's often better to buy these items in smaller sizes or in travel-sized bottles that may last the duration of your trip.

Expensive jewelry

PoppyPix/Adobe jewelry at the flea market in tbilisi georgia

Not only is jewelry often expensive, but it's also a target for thieves. Opt for cheaper costume jewelry instead if you must purchase jewelry while on vacation.

Fruit

Nicole Kwiatkowski/Adobe Indian street vendor

Tourist traps are notorious for offering fruit at higher prices. If you're looking for a healthful snack, wait until you're away from the attractions to buy fruit from a local grocery store.

That said, if you're staying at an all-inclusive resort, enjoy the fruit included in your stay. Also, customs regulations might prohibit bringing fruit into another country, so remember to check the rules before packing any fruit in your suitcase.

Tours

spiritofamerica/Adobe Tourists at the Pont du Gard Nimes France

You might find better deals on tours by arranging them yourself instead of going through a tour company.

Look online to see if any free walking tours are available in the city you're visiting, for example. Another option is to ask locals for recommendations on tours or secret discounts.

Pro tip: Earn points, miles, and more when you book your trip or tour with one of the best travel credit cards for beginners

Heavy souvenirs

karlo54/Adobe Ceramics in Baux-de-Provence

Not only are these difficult to lug around on a trip, but they'll also be a pain to pack when it's time to go home.

Choose lighter souvenirs that won't add too much weight to your luggage. Also, consider mailing these types of souvenirs home so you won't have to carry them around.

Street food

Curioso.Photography/Adobe Food booth selling traditional Polish street food in Main Square

While street food may be a great way to save money, it can also pose a health risk. If you must eat street food, make sure that the vendor has adequately cooked the food before eating it.

If you're not sure, it's better to err on the side of caution and find something else to eat.

Fake designer goods

Renovacio/Adobe fake designer bags

It's tempting to try to save money by buying fake designer goods while on vacation. Still, it's important to remember that these items are often of lower quality and may not last as long as the real thing.

If you want a designer item, wait until you get home and buy the real thing.

Foreign currency

VLRS/Adobe Local money exchange booth

It's usually wise to convert your cash to a foreign currency in advance of your trip, as you'll get a better exchange rate.

However, if you must purchase foreign currency while on vacation, avoid airports and hotels, as they often have high fees. Instead, go to a local bank or ATM to see if you can get a better rate.

Pro tip: You can save more on expensive overseas trips and earn rewards with these top credit cards for international travel.

Room service

Svitlana/Adobe Waitress in uniform delivering tray with food in a room of hotel

Room service is often overpriced. If you're staying at a hotel that includes free breakfast, take advantage of that fact.

If you must order room service, see if there's a delivery fee and minimum order amount first. You may be better off ordering from a local restaurant that will deliver the food to your room.

Airplane Wi-Fi

NicoElNino/Adobe Wifi internet access in airplane during flight

Purchasing airplane Wi-Fi allows you to stay connected while in the air, but it’s often not worth the money. The Wi-Fi is usually slow and unreliable, and the cost might be high.

Pay for this add-on if you absolutely must. But whenever possible, cut your internet service costs by waiting until you’re on the ground to connect.

Overpriced clothing

Goffkein/Adobe Surprised shocked woman looking at high price tag

It’s often wise to purchase clothing before you embark on your trip. If you must buy while traveling, you’ll often save money by avoiding tourist traps. Instead, look for local stores or markets where you can bargain for prices.

If you do end up buying clothing while traveling, ensure you have enough room in your suitcase first. You don't want to pay to check an extra bag just for a few items of clothing.

Bottom line

None

When it comes to vacation spending, it's essential to know what you're buying. Making the right choices can help you save on travel costs.

Taking the time to carefully plan your purchases can be a great way to boost your bank account and help you enjoy your vacation even more.

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Earn 25,000 online bonus points after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening - that can be a $250 statement credit toward travel purchases

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Larisa Redins Larisa Redins is a highly experienced professional writer and editor. With experience writing on diverse topics, such as eco investments, real estate, cryptocurrency, side hustles, and budgeting, she loves to learn and share her knowledge with readers.

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