Dollar store shopping for a cruise gets us amped up for the big day!
I love bargain shopping! Combine that love of shopping with the thrilling anticipation of planning for a cruise, and we’re talking bargain shopping BLISS! Am I right?
For some, packing for a cruise can be confusing and expensive, but it doesn’t have to be! By leveraging dollar store shopping for a cruise, you can save lots of money on toiletry and stateroom essentials (and fun extras!), and pack for your cruise like a pro.
If you’ve ever been dollar store shopping for a cruise, you know it can be hit and miss! So, we’ll stick to the basics.
Here’s a list of 10 items we consistently find in-stock in most dollar stores. As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases. We’ve included links to some products available on Amazon. These are affiliate links, and the price you pay does not change. See our disclaimer for more information.
Travel Size First Aid Kit
While I’m not a big fan of buying medications and vitamins at a dollar store, a mini first aid kit can be a great find. Dollar stores often carry compact versions that cover just the basics, like bandaids, gauze, and antibiotic ointment. It’s always a good idea to be prepared. You never know when something unexpected could happen. We’ve had to break out the band-aids more than once on a cruise. Take advantage of the bargain prices available when dollar store shopping for a cruise, and always be prepared.
Magnets are our number one tool for keeping our stateroom clutter-free on a cruise. Didyaknow….the walls in your cabin are magnetic, friends. Use the hooks to hang your hats, hoodies, & shawl for chilly dining room nights! Use the clips (affiliate link) for keeping your shore-ex tickets and paperwork visible. If your dollar store doesn’t carry them, we swear by these clips (affiliate link) and hooks. We even use them for hanging our itinerary, maps, and photos. Popping your shore excursion tickets up on the wall the night before is a great way to build excitement for the next day! Trust me, they are SUPER strong, and easy to pack.
Toiletries and Sunscreen
Here’s where you can save considerable money at the dollar store! Stock up on toiletries like travel size toothpaste, antibacterial wipes, shampoo, conditioner, sunscreen and shower gels.
Just be sure to make a list of the toiletries you think you’ll need before you head out to do your dollar store shopping for a cruise. The most commonly forgotten items are shaving cream, travel size deodorant and baby powder (use to clean off sandy feet after a beach day!).
You may also find SPF lip balm in this area! Don’t forget to protect your lips from the harmful effects of the sun!
On my last cruise, I looked into buying birthday decorations for my son directly from from the cruise line. The cost for the decorations was over $40.00 for some balloons, hanging items, and a banner! Nope!
Instead, I grabbed some simple birthday decor for under $5.00 at my local dollar store, and saved the difference for a special birthday dinner instead. They also have a great selection of holiday decor during the holiday season – perfect if you’re going on a holiday cruise!
You don’t need a special occasion to pick up some fun decorations for your cruise cabin. Door decorations are all the rage on cruise ships these days, and they are SO easy to pack. We loved these film-style decorations.
Cabin Organization Items
From sticky note pads, to highlighter pens (to mark up your daily newsletter), to small dry erase boards. We are all about sticky notes on a cruise. We use them to leave fun little messages for each other, and our cabin steward. They are a great way to ask for little things without having to track your cabin steward down, and pester them while they are trying to do other things.
Just a short little note like “we need more ice, please” with a smiley face stuck on the mirror with a sticky note, and the problem is solved. Seriously, it’s a super effective way to get little things done.
Tealights & Nightlights
Open flames are a big no-no on a cruise, so candles are something you have to leave at home. But, if you’re looking for a little ambiance, tealights are a great substitute and they don’t take up much room in your suitcase.
Tealights can give your cabin a bit of a romantic feel, and they also make great little substitutes for nightlights. If you prefer the real thing when it comes to lighting up a dark cabin, dollar stores OFTEN carry good old fashioned nightlights too, which can be handy on a cruise. Cruise cabins can get very dark in the evening hours, so grab a nightlight to avoid stubbed toes, and to soothe scared little ones!
Clips, clips and MORE clips!
Simple plastic clips and clothespins can double as towel clips, clothes lines, or as a handy hack to keep light from leaking into your cabin. Carabiner clips will take your “pro-cruise-packer” status to a whole new level. Use these sturdy suckers to fasten your water bottle or baseball cap to your backpack.
It’s funny, but the more carabiner clips we take on a cruise the more use we find for them. We use them to keep zippers closed on suit cases, and camera bags, hang things to the magnetic hooks on the wall, and all sorts of crazy things. Carabiner clips fall into the “you didn’t know you needed them” category. Take a couple on your next trip, and you’ll see what I mean.
Travel Size Pop Up Hamper
Pop-up hampers take up very little space in your suitcase, and are so worth the investment! As your laundry pile begins to build throughout the cruise, it’s often hard to find a spot to stack your dirties. For us this is an essential item to look for when dollar store shopping for a cruise.
One of these little cuties folds down to the size of an envelope, and will make your room feel SO tidy and organized. If you plan to do laundry on a cruise (we often do laundry as we are carry-on only packers), you can also use the hamper to haul your laundry to the self-serve laundromat onboard.
You’ll probably impress your room steward too! Bonus!
Hand Sanitizing Wipes and Gel
Avoiding germs on a cruise is critical, and it’s best to be armed with some antibacterial tools at all times! I’m not a big fan of gels, but the individual and canister-style wipes are GREAT. We like to look for alcohol-based products to ensure they are effective.
Whether you’re cleaning up before a meal on an excursion with no access to soap and running water, or wiping down your table at a restaurant, you’ll never be sorry you packed a supply of germ-fighters! Now more than ever these are super essential, and an absolute must for a cruise. You may as well take advantage of the savings when dollar store shopping for a cruise.
Shower caps probably wouldn’t be the first thing to come to mind when dollar store shopping for a cruise, but hear me out. These have a purpose, and you’re gonna love it. No, I’m not stocking up on shower caps to protect my fancy hairdo while I sing in the shower…instead…I’m using them for the best cruise-packing-hack EVER!
Cruise and travel pros know that if you wrap your shoes in a shower cap before placing them in your suitcase, you can keep dirt and germs off your clothes and toiletries. Easy. Cheap. And fun to brag to your friends about!
Stopping at 10 items is HARD. We could go on all day about the treasures that await you at the dollar store. Here are a few other goodies you may want to consider:
- Pill Cases
- Pens & Highlighters
- Games & Crosswords (for adults and kids)
- Magnetic white boards
- Accordion-style wallets/folders for receipts
- Travel Water Bottles
Want more? Dollar Store Shop With Us!
If you’d like to roam the aisles with us on our trip to the dollar store, check out this fun video! We find some unexpected treasures, and discover great values! Stay til the end to see our dollar store shopping haul!
Have you ever been to Five Below? Join us on our first ever trip to Five Below to budget shop for a cruise! There are some REAL treasures at this store!
Thanks so much for reading along! We hope you’ve enjoyed this article on dollar store shopping for a cruise and we’d love to hear from you! Please feel free to direct message us on Instagram or Facebook with your thoughts, and until next time, we’ll see you on the high seas!