Shopping for a Cruise on a $100 Budget

I'll admit it, I love buying something new to wear on vacation. There's just something so fun about debuting a new item in a new destination! For my upcoming Caribbean cruise with Carnival, I decided to issue myself a little challenge. I gave myself a $100 budget and a limited time frame (a couple hours) to get these items on my wish list:

- denim shorts
- fedora/sun hat
- swim cover up
- dress to wear to dinner
- those comfy, printed pants that look like pajamas

I did not plan to cross everything off my list. Shopping in October for summer clothes is out of season, so I didn't think much would be available, not to mention five items for under $100 is a tall order. I ran into some serious shopping luck though and wound up with everything on my list with a grand total of only $88! Score!

Here's what I bought:

- shorts: American Eagle, $18 (pic 3)
- hat: Francesca's, $10 (pic 3)
- swim cover up: Forever 21, $22 (pic 4)
- dress for dinner: Forever 21, $18 (pic 1)
- printed pants: TJ Maxx, $20 (pic 2)

Total = $88



I tried on several pairs before I purchased the printed pants in photo 1 from TJ Maxx. Photo 2 is at Macy’s, photo 3 is at American Eagle. 



I searched for denim shorts all summer with zero success, so I was thrilled to finally find a pair! The denim shorts at American Eagle were on clearance, hidden on the bottom of a table in the back. I must’ve tried on 15 pairs. I bought the ones on the left, which are a Boyfriend fit. The ones on the right are Boy Midi fit.



One retailer that’s summer-friendly year round is Forever 21. I tried on a ton of dresses for the trip. I got the first one to wear for dinner. (Bonus: I can wear it with a coat and booties this fall!) I also got the floral one, bottom right, to wear as a swim coverup.



Having a couple new things has made me even more excited to go on this cruise, if that's even possible. The real challenge will be waiting to wear everything until the trip! (Totally cheated with the shorts here.) Check out my shopping tips for a cruise/vacation below and tell me – do you like buying something new for vacation or do you stick to old favorites? What are your best vacation shopping tips?

Tips for cruise/vacation shopping:

  1.  Consider every possible scenario for your trip. What activities will you be doing and do you have something to wear for each possibility? What can you wear in case of inclement or unusual weather?
  2. Give yourself plenty of time. For my trip to Europe three years ago, I spent several months planning outfits and researching climates and activities in advance. Don’t wait until the night before to take inventory of your closet and make sure you have everything you’ll need.
  3.  Fashion means function. On vacation you may find yourself on your feet sightseeing for hours, or snorkeling, or doing a number of things you wouldn’t normally do. Consider the function of what you’re wearing – shoes that can withstand a beating, swim cover ups that you can throw on fresh out of the ocean, etc.
  4. Think beach brands. If you’re going on a tropical vacation out of season, then head to stores like Pac Sun, Hollister, American Eagle, Victoria’s Secret that carry bathing suits, shorts, cover ups and flip flops year round.
  5. Only buy things you can wear outside of vacation, too. The fedora, printed pants, and dinner dress will work for the current season (fall) and I'll get plenty of use out of the summer items I purchased as well. Don’t buy it only for vacation, buy it so you can use it after vacation, too!
  6.  Don’t blow the bank. Along the same lines, vacation is really fun, but it’s only a few weeks out of the year. So I recommend putting the majority of your clothing budget towards your usual daily activities.

Today’s post is brought to you by Carnival Cruise Lines. All opinions, photos, and editorial decisions are my own. Thanks for reading!