Dollar Tree Cruise Essentials – Dollar Store Finds

I LOVE shopping at our local Dollar Tree. We have one really close to our house, so I shop there often. Lucky us! Here are 48 items that you can buy at the dollar store to pack for your next cruise.

I LOVE shopping at our local Dollar Tree. We have one really close to our house, so I shop there often. Lucky us! Here are 48 items that you can buy at the dollar store to pack for your next cruise.

DISCLAIMER: Not all Dollar Tree stores are the same, so you may not be able to find everything on this list. This list is just to give you an *idea* of what kinds of items you can find for your cruise.

dollar tree cruise essentials

PRINTABLE VERSION: Scroll to the bottom of this list to grab a FREE printable shopping list.

Dollar Store Organizing Supplies for Your Cruise:

Watch this quick shopping video to see what all I purchased for our recent 7-night Caribbean cruise:

1 – Magnets and Magnetic Clips

Most cruise stateroom walls and doors are made of metal, so use this to your organizing advantage. Grab some magnets, magentic hooks, and magnetic clips at the dollar store. You can use them to hang up your itinerary, notes, or other important documents so they’ll never get lost or soiled if you spill a drink. Use magnetic hooks to hang hats, scarves, pool coverups by your door for easy access.

FAMILY TIP: Kids are visual people who thrive off scheudles. Thre’s a reason every kindergarten class has the day’s schedule somehwere posted on the wall. Use magnets to clip your daily schedule to the wall, or use a magnetic board to keep track ot today’s schedule and upcoming port days.

2 – Resealable Plastic Bags

The uses for resealable plastic bags are endless. Use them for packing up jewelry or other small items that you don’t want loose in your suitcase. You could even use them for keeping your cell phone protected from sand and splashing water if you’re traveling to any beach destinations. When traveling with kids (who inevitably collect lots of small items) plastic baggies are a life-saver.

3 – Pocket Organizer

Grab a clear or mesh pocket organizer to keep all your toiletries organized and accessible. You can hang it up on the back of the bathroom door with a couple of dollar store magnetic hooks that you also stocked up on.

4 – Carabiners

These are great for attaching things to the outside of your backpack. Nothing valuable, though. Think: water bottles, umbrellas, tennis shoes, etc.

5 – Accordion File or Small Binder

Even though many boarding passes are digital these days, you still need to bring some travel documents with. Print out any important reservation paperwork that you may want to bring with, and tuck it into an accordion file. Also great for keeping cruise and bar receipts all in one spot.

6 – Binder or Folder

I know many reservation confirmations and boarding passes are digital now, but for my old-school paper friends, bring a small binder or folder along to keep your paperwork organized.

Dollar Store Food Storage and Dishes for Your Cruise:

7 – Reusable Beverage Containers

I can’t emphasize this enough: BRING A WATER BOTTLE with on your cruise! The cups in the dining areas are tiny, and you don’t want to waste plastic (and cash) on disposable bottles. Fill up at breakfast, and bring with you into port or poolside on sea days.
And if you’re a serious coffee drinker – don’t forget a travel coffee mug!

8 – Straws

This straw isn’t for drinking.
Give this genius travel hack a try: thread your necklaces through regular plastic straws before you travel to keep them from getting tangled. This is especially helpful for us minimalist travelers who don’t bring a whole travel jewelry roll.

9 – Snack Containers

Get a few small food storage containers so you can stock up on snacks at the buffet and keep them in your room for whenever you get a little hungry. I use glass food storage containers at home, but dollar store plastic containers are perfect for travel or even the local pool or lake trip.

10 – Corkscrew

Many cruise lines allow you to bring wine onboard, but may charge you to have a steward bring a corkscrew to your cabin. Don’t risk it, and bring your own for only a dollar.

Dollar Store Laundry Supplies for Cruises:

11 – Laundry Bag or Small Pop-Up Hamper

The dollar store has a variety of options to chose from in this category. If you check the laundry aisle, you’ll likely to find giant laundry bags or pop-up hampers for stashing all your dirty clothes. Cabins are small enough, you don’t want to be tripping over the laundry pile, too!

BONUS USE: Mesh bags make for great bags to carry with you on beach days in port, since the sand falls right through the bottom. I have a mesh bottom beach bag, and we LOVE it for that reason. Think: sandy beach toys and dirty towels. Just give the bag a shake before heading back onboard the ship.

12 – Clothes Hangers

Cruise ship cabins are no different than every other hotel room you’ve stayed in: never enough hangers. If you have room in your suitcase, it’s not a bad idea idea to bring a few spare hangers to ensure you’ll have plenty.

13 – Clothespins and Clips of All Sizes

Clothespins have a veriety of uses when cruising – hanging wet swimsuits or laundry to dry in your stateroom, for clipping your towel to a beach chair, or even for flipping those cabin curtains shut so you can sleep in (in the dark). A lot of people will bring fancy towel clips, which are a fun splurge, but dollar store clips can work too.

CRAFT TIME: If you’re feeling crafty, grab some markers or paint and let the kids decorate their own clips.

14 – Travel Size Detergent

Ok, listen up here. You do NOT have to do laundry on your cruise. It’s all about personal preference – mainly how much do you want to pack and how much luggage you want to bring along. I prefer to pack less and wash a few items in my room to line dry in the shower. There are usually laundry facilities onboard (washer/dryer), but they can get busy on sea days. And no one wants to spend a port day doing laundry.
There are also laundry service that you can select to use (for a fee). It’s all about what works for you.

15 – Wrinkle Spray

I barely want to iron when I’m at home, so I’m definitely not going to want to on vacation. Plus, if you pack as efficiently as I do, you will want to give clothes a quick spray when you hang them up in your cabin.

Packing Pro-Tip: Iron and starch your clothes welll BEFORE packing. Then when you unpack on the cruise, it will be easier to smooth your clothes back out.

16 – Tide Pens

Accidents happen, and you may not be doing laundry for a while. Treat the stain right away, so it doesn’t sit for days.

17 – Garment Bags

Great for those formal night clothes or any other hanging items. They’re super lightweight, so they won’t weigh down your suitcase.

Dollar Store Toiletries for Cruises:

18 – Travel-Sized Toiletry Bottles

The dollar store is the BEST place to stock up on travel-sized bottles and toiletry items. They have everything! If you are traveling carryon-only, this is essential. Even if you are chacking luggage, keep this in mind: cruise ship bathrooms are SMALL, with countertop and storage wpace at a premium. Why juggle large bottles, when you can grab travel-sized ones so inexpensively?

19 – Chapstick

The sun and the salty sea air may lead to chapped lips quicker than you’d expect. Keep a few lip balms on hand to keep from a cracked and painful situation. You know the drill: purse chapstick, bathroom chapstick, port bag chapstick, pool bag chapstick. Bring a few extras in case one gets lost.

20 – Earplugs

Nothing can ruin a vacation quicker than a poor night’s sleep. Unfamiliar sounds — and snoring of your cabin mates — can keep you tossing and turning all night. Pick up a couple sets of cheap earplugs and enjoy get a good night’s sleep for tomorrow’s excursions.

21 – Shower Caps

Aside from the obvious use, shower caps make great shoe covers. I have a weird germ phobia with shoes being in suitcases with clothes, so I always cover them even if they don’t look dirty. Also great if you go on an excursion that may get a little muddy.

22 – Travel Combs and Brushes

Ladies, cruise ships are windy places. Toss a travel brush in your beach bag to keep the tangles at bay.

23 – Aloe Gel

No one plans to get a sunburn on their cruise, but if you are particularly sun-sensitive it may not be a bad idea to bring some aloe gel along.

A NOTE ON SUNSCREEN: I’m very particular about what brands of sunscreen I use, especially for my children. For this reason, I do not buy sunscreen at the dollar store. But they do have it – even in travel sized bottles for you carry-on cruisers.

Dollar Store First Aid Items for Your Cruise:

24 – Antibacterial Wipes / Hand Sanitizer

Whenever we go in vacation, I am religious about the antibacterial wipes. Cruise ships have thousands of people living, eating, and playing in close quarters. Most cruise ships have hand sanitizer dispensers stationed throughout the ship. I like to use the antibac wipes on door handles, remotes, light switches in the cabin, as well as on tables before we eat and on hands when hand washing isn’t readily available. Be sure to pop some wipes in your port/excursion bag as well.

25 – Travel Tissues

You always need tissues on hand, and the dollar store is just the place to get them inexpensively. Keep a pack or two in each bag, so they are always handy no matter where you are on or off the ship.

26 – Pill Box

If you take daily vitamins or medication, these clever storage containers are real space savers. Instead of packing all your giant pill bottles and trying to keep them organized in a small cabin, sort out your daily medication regimen ahead of time in one of these handy boxes.

27 – First Aid Basics

It’s a good idea to have a stock of basic first aid items, like bandages, ointments, and sunburn ointment for the inevitable bump or scrape.

28 – Over-the-Counter Medication

Be sure to pack pain relievers, allergy medicine, cough drops, stomach relief chews – whatever your family might need. No, the dollar store may not be cheaper pill-for-pill, but those small containers sure are handy. Don’t waste valuable suitcase space on large, bulky bottles.

Let’s Talk about Tummies: Even if you don’t normally have digestive troubles, I would HIGHLY recommend bringing along things like Tums and Imodium. Cruise ships offer TONS of dining options, and you likely won’t be eating your regular diet. Don’t waste a day of fun cooped up in the cabin bathroom.

Dollar Store Entertainment for Cruises

29 – Cheap Beach Toys / Goggles / blow-up floaties

These aren’t the highest quality, but you also don’t have to worry about the kids losing them, either. These are usually seasonal items at the dollar store, so stock up in the summer months.

30 – Playing Cards

There are TONS of things to do on cruise ships, but that doesn’t mean you won’t find yourself sitting around – waiting for someone to finish getting ready, or to disembark for an excursion. Bring a deck of cards to pass the time. Go-fish for the little ones NEVER gets old!

31 – Sticker and Activity Books

Before I leave with my kids on ANY trip, I always pick up a couple of new sticker and sctivity books from the Dollar Tree. They can be a life saver on long trips, or when waiting to embark/disembark the ship.

32 – Glow Sticks

These are just fun to have on hand for nighttime activities, whether or not you are traveling with kids.

Dollar Store Office Supplies for Cruises

33 – Mini Notebook

I find it helpful to pack a small notebook to write down notes, keep track of my itinerary, journal about vacation memories, etc..

34 – Highlighter and Pen

Perfect for marking your cruise bulletin to plan you activities for the next day. These items MIGHT become obsolete as cruises introduce and perfect their smart phone apps. But, if you’re anything like me… you’re a pen-and-paper user for life! There’s just something about looking over the bulletin and highlighting what stands out to you. I prefer this SO much more to the phone app – which (at least for Royal Caribbean) is very good. It all comes down to personal preference.

35 – Dry Erase Board or Post-It Notes

Step back in time a couple of decades with me, and being back the good old fashioned message board. Since your cell phone won’t work on your cruise, dry erase boards are a great way to communicate where you’ll be or leave quick messages for your travel companions. Many doors are magnetic, so be sure to grab a dry erase board with a magnetic strip on back. Post-it notes also do the trick.
Like with my highlighter recommendation above, technology is changing the way we cruise. Cruise smartphone apps now offer messaging features (even if you don’t buy the wi-fi internet package), but this still requires all parties to carry their cell phones on them.
A note about safety: Consider hanging your message board just inside your cabin instead of in the hallway, especially when traveling with children. I like to see the best in people, but you never know what kind of people will be on the ship with you – or whose sticky fingers may walk off with your board.

36 – Thank You Notes

Grab a pack of simple thank-you notes to leave a note for someone who made your trip extra special… in addition to the gratuities, wink, wink! Want to go the extra mile? Leave a note for the head steward or head waiter complimenting the exemplary service of a particular staff member. They work VERY hard to make your vacation a fantastic experience, and raising that to the attention of their manager can go a long way when it comes to bonuses and promotions.

37 – A New Book

I’m going to let you in on a little secret: I buy many of my pleasure reading books at the Dollar Store. Yes, I also use our public library regularly. But, I would hate to lose or damage a library book on a cruise. Grab a book or two, and leave them behind after you finish them for someone else to enjoy.

Dollar Store Electronics for Cruises

38 – Outlet Expanders

This it tricky territory here. Most cruise lines have banned surge protectors or power strips, but these 3-outlet expanders I think are still ok. There are also cruise-approved options for sale online. It’s pretty much essential, since many cabins only have ONE outlet!
UPDATE: Newer ships hav started to include USB charging ports in staterooms. If you are sailing in an older ship, an outlet expenader is definitely still a necessity.

39 – Mini Speakers

Dollar Tree speakers are such a deal! They’re prefect for amplifying the sound from your tablet when you want to unwind in your cabin from an activity-packed day.

40 – Watch

Fun Fact: cruise ships operate on “cruise ship time” so don’t trust the time that your phone syncs to! You can manually change your phone to set to cruise ship time, but if you don’t want to carry your phone around all the time, a dollar store watch is a great solution to keep you on schedule – and make sure you make it back to the boat in time on port days.

41 – Batteries

If you’re bringing anything that requires batteries, it’s a good idea to have backups just in case. Stock up for a buck at the dollar store.

42 – Night Light

The staterooms can get DARK, especially if you are in an interior cabin. You don’t want anyone tripping over furniture in an unfamiliar room. Grab a cheap night light so you don’t have to worry about it. Ideally, it would be nice to have one that doesn’t require an outlet. On the Dollar Tree website, they have LED Push Lights that would work great, as well as some luminescent tea lights. I think either would be a good option for a little bit more light.

FAMILY-FRIENDLY TIP: Grab a cartoon-themed night night for the kids. There’s nothing worse than waking up in a strange bed in complete darkness!

Dollar Store Clothing and Accessories for Your Next Cruise

43 – Flip Flops

Cheap flip flops are great to pack for cruises. Slide in and out easily as you head to the pool or just wander around the boat.These are also perfect for setting out to save beach chairs on sea days by the pool – no one is going to swipe some dollar flip flops!

44 – Sunglasses

Don’t forget to pack hats and sunglasses! Leave your expensive glasses at home, and bring a cheap pair instead – in case they get lost or broken. This is especially good idea for kids. My kids lose sunglasses at an alarming rate.

45 – Poncho

Pack for all weather possibilities – including rain. I always bring a travel umbrella, but if you are doing outdoor excursions a poncho may be a better bet. Plus it takes up less packing space than a rain coat.

46 – Reusable Bags

Reusable shopping can be used for a variety of purposes. Making a quick trip to the pool? Skip the big beach bag and toss just the essentials into a shopping bag. Plus, if it gets dirty or damaged, it was only a dollar!

Bonus Items:

47 – Door Decorations

I always thought this was the MOST ridiculous thing I had ever heard of. Then I went cruising with my kids. Not only is this a fun way to celebrate your cruise, but it makes it WAY easier for the little ones to spot your cabin door in a hallway of identical doors.

48 – Picture Frames and Photo Albums

For all your NEW vacation photos! We also travel with a mini album of family pictures for the kids. My daughter especially can get homesick (mainly for the dog), so it’s nice to have pictures along.

Dollar Store Cruise Essentials - Grab this FREE printable shopping list full of Dollar Tree items to pack for your cruise

Printable Dollar Store Cruise Shopping List:

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