Pack Your Bags With Summer Basics Under $20

by  Paul Eisenberg | Jul 3, 2012
Packing for a trip
Packing for a trip / seb_ra/iStock

Water, a wallet, and wipes are somewhat obvious things to pack in a carry-on bag, especially if you're a parent with more than 25 minutes of experience. But summer, being as it’s conducive to heat, splashing, grime, and a desire to pack and travel light, should inspire all summer travelers – families, beach goers, and all-around outdoorsy types – to put a smart twist on these three basic items.

Here are my picks, each coming in comfortably under twenty bucks.

Vapur Foldable Water Bottle (2-pack), $15.99

The folks at Vapur pitch their 14 ounce fun-size “anti-bottles” as ideal items for kids’ lunch bags, and that is indeed how I know of them. But an in-flight carry-on is also the perfect place for one of these plastic pouches, which will easily fit rolled or flattened in your hand luggage.

Once you’re past airport security, fill up at a water fountain. You’ll be delighted that the bottle actually stands when it’s full, has no nasty reusable bottle taste, and doesn’t leak from its nozzle even if you lose the clear snap-on cap (which you probably will). Should you wish to clip the bottle to your person, it comes with a carabiner, which also proves handy if you want to hang up the bottle to dry. And if you’re traveling with kids, issue each of them their own pouch. It’s not only a cool-looking accessory, but it’s too portable for them to claim that they need you to carry it for them.

OtterBox Waterproof Case, $11.49

Years ago as I shot down an Orlando water slide – in those seconds right after I stopped shrieking but right before I hit the water – I had moment of clarity, which was that I probably should have taken my digital voice recorder out of my bathing suit pocket.

And of course there had been plenty of less dramatic wake-up calls before that – like every time I’d wade into some shallow waves with my kids and not recall until after being slapped with a waist-high wall of water that my room key and phone were in my pocket. For those times – and for any time at the beach, pool, or water park when you want to carry your valuables – consider an OtterBox case, a polycarbonate “drybox” that will fit a phone, keys, cash, and whatever else you may pick up along the way – a seashell or two, for instance, which makes it handy that the box is crush-proof. And its nylon cord makes it easily wearable around your neck or wrist.

Should you become separated from the box – like if a child really wants to see if it floats (it does) – I’d recommend the bright yellow model, as you’ll have a fighting chance of spotting it in a pool or murky sea. And while I haven’t yet tested its effectiveness under water, this model is designed to handle full submersion to a depth of 100 feet.

Adventure Medical Kits Fresh Bath Body Wipes, $4.99

I’ve been obligated to carry baby wipes on and off for more than a decade and there’s no denying they’re handy for a host of obvious reasons. But come summer vacation time, you’ve probably noticed that it’s all too easy to use up an entire packet of wipes at once – say, to scour sticky ice cream hands, clean a dusty picnic bench, or blot up spills. It’s at these times when you’ll be glad you packed some Adventure Medical Kits bath wipes. The company does make an 8” x 5” travel size, but I prefer these 8” x 10” sheets, which are especially handy when a shower is unavailable and you need to brush off sand-coated legs and feet or wipe down a chlorine-scented child who’s been in the pool for a while. The wipes are antibacterial and alcohol free and also have some aloe vera and vitamins A and B thrown in for good measure.

Use our Travel Search price comparison tool to find the lowest rates on flights, hotels, packages, and more travel deals.

Cruise ship in Turks and Caicos
Find The Best Cruises
Find a cruise

Find the best deals!

Click on multiple sites to get the lowest prices

Click on multiple sites to get the lowest prices