Money Mondays: Should You Pack Emergency Gear While on Vacation?

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Many people prepare for emergencies at home, but decide to forgo prepping while on vacation. After all, being on vacation means being carefree, and no one really wants to think about disasters while on vacation.

Should you pack emergency gear while on vacation?

The inescapable fact is, you shouldn’t leave home without at least a minimum amount of emergency supplies.  Pack items you already own to minimize on cost.

Of course, your emergency kit would have to be portable, inconspicuous and take a minimum amount of space especially if you are flying to your destination.  As you pack, be mindful of what you are allowed to carry in checked luggage according to TSA rules.  It may cost you a little more in checked luggage but it is well worth the peace of mind.

Let’s just look at the basics.


Carry at least two to three days worth of food.  MREs are good because of the heating element, but MREs tend to be heavy. Freeze dried entrees are small and light weight, but you would need a tiny stove and a small cooking pot to heat water.

If you are staying in a hotel that has a microwave, you may have more options as far as heating food.

The food should be easy to prepare, needing a minimum amount of ingredients.  Think packable emergency snacks such as nuts, protein bars, beef jerky, ramen noodles, granola or nutrition bars.

Don’t want to pack more than you have to? You can still be prepared: scope out the hotel gift shop and buy a few food items to save for later.  If you stay at an all-inclusive hotel, you will have access to muffins, bread rolls, mini cereal boxes or even apples that can be saved for later. (Note: if you have produce and you are returning from a foreign country, finish them up before you go through customs inspection.)


Buy a few liters of water at your destination, and keep the bottles at the hotel with you.  Keep your room’s ice bucket full of ice from the ice machine.  Pack a small water filter or refillable sport filter bottle.  We brought a Berkey Sport bottle for each family member on a recent vacation and they came in handy wherever we went.

Clothing and Footwear

Bring comfortable shoes for walking. A lot of people bring only sandals and flip flops but those are too flimsy to walk out of a city.  Pack a hat and sunglasses for sun protection, a bandanna is also handy to have due to its multiple uses.

While it might be tempting to pack only skimpy tank tops and shorts, bring clothes that offer a bit more sun and wind protection such as t-shirts and pants, in the event the environment becomes inhospitable.

Health and First Aid

Always carry a small first aid kit with you. If you lack space, at least carry a pocket first aid kit.

Take along extra prescription medicines. In case you are delayed, you have a few extra to last you.

Bring an extra pair of glasses or contact lenses.

Before your trip, find out what your health insurance covers while on vacation. If you are going to a foreign country, find out how to access care in your destination.

Take your health insurance card with you.


Take your cell phone charger with you; a solar charger would be even better if you have the room.

If you are going overseas, call you cell phone provider to find out fees and accessibility while your are traveling. Sometimes calling and texting home from a foreign country gets so expensive it is a lot easier to take a tablet and use Skype. That’s why you need to find this out before you even leave town.

Keep a hard copy list of emergency contacts with you in case your cell phone is lost or stolen

Upon arriving at your hotel, especially in a foreign country, check the hotel phone book or ask the front desk about how to access police, fire, hospital etc.
Always check the weather reports and stay aware of the news so you can plan accordingly.


Inform your bank and credit card company’s fraud department you “may” be using the card at a destination. For security, no need to give exact dates and addresses – just give an approximate window when you will be traveling.

Bring extra cash hidden within your belongings.

Consider trip insurance. Trip insurance can come in handy if you have to reschedule due to illness, an impending hurricane etc.


Check all the fire exits in your floor; find backup exits out of the building and property.

Do not broadcast your whereabouts on social media

Look around you and consider what you can use for defense. Some experts suggest wasp spray as an easy to obtain substitute for pepper spray.


If you are stranded, you may be spending a lot of time at the airport or waiting in line so you might as well be occupied.

Bring books, magazines to read, and pack a few non-electronic games for the kids.

Disaster can hit anywhere and being prepared just makes perfect sense.  If nothing happens then you lost nothing by preparing, however if something does happen, you will be glad you planned ahead.


For more tips on prepping on small budget, read my latest book:

Bernie's Latest Book

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  1. That is why I travel on vacation in a Travel Trailer. Have enough supplies and other things to get you back to your Residence, except in a emp.

    1. Hi tuesdayissoylentgreenday, Would love to own a travel trailer, then you’d have all your supplies. Thanks for stopping by!

  2. Don’t forget illumination. Always have illumination with you when you travel…hotels lose power and even occasionally their backup power, too, and it can be very, very dark. The MPOWERED Luci Inflatable solar light weighs next to nothing, takes up almost no room in your bag, is relatively expensive, and last for several hours when fully charged.

    1. Hey Sideliner 1950, Good advice, backup lighting is important, as hotels can lose power. Thanks for the comment!

  3. My family and I just got back from a much needed vacation. The first thing that went into the rental car was also the last thing to be removed once we returned home, my Get Home Bag.

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