Friday, January 16, 2015

Travel Tip: Finding the Right Stuff on a Budget

As any traveler will tell you, having the proper clothing and equipment is essential for traveling comfortably. What that equipment and clothing is varies a lot based on personal taste and travel style, but high quality items are essential and often very expensive. How does one manage to get really great items and not break the bank? Well, with a little patience, effort, and smarts you can manage it. Last summer I filled my bag with new or almost new name brand items (like my Keen hiking sandals, Prana hiking pants, and Lululemon athletic skirt) for less than $150. 

How did I pull that off? The biggest money saver is second hand shops. Those hiking sandals and pants I mentioned (both retail for $100 new), I found for $8 each in almost new condition. And the skirt was only $5 (retails for about $60). It takes patience and many trips to find all of these high quality items in great condition, but it usually can be done. I go to different second hand shops about once a week trying to find the perfect items, and my patience is almost always rewarded with cheap, high quality goodies, as well as the satisfaction of more eco-friendly shopping. 

Some days I go into the second hand shops and don't find anything I need (although I almost always find a cool skirt that I want, I'm totally obsessed with hippie skirts). That's ok. I'll try a different one, or try again next week. I have been on the hunt for a jacket. Not just any jacket, but jacket that will keep me warm in Sweden in February, while also keeping me dry and not overheating as I'm working around the farm in Ireland in the spring rains. I wasn't too hopeful about finding this very specific type of jacket, but I looked often anyways. Two of the last times I went I didn't find a single thing I needed, but I went yesterday and completely scored! Among other things, I found the perfect jacket- waterproof, breathable, wind resistant, warm, and with the armpit zippers it fit all of my criteria (and fit me quite nicely)! I was planning on having to buy one new at a discount retail store and spend $60-$70 (still a great price for a really high quality jacket), but my patience paid off and I found the perfect jacket for $15. With the money I saved from just that one item I was able to pay for most of my flights to and from the #TBEX Europe conference, and the combined savings on all my other items probably adds up to well over $1,000. 

One can't always find everything for their trip in a second hand shop, however, so how does one go about getting the rest of the items for less? I shop at discount retail stores like Ross or Burlington Coat Factory, or online at places like,, or my personal favorite the REI Outlet. REI has really high quality products (plus a generous one year return policy. Bought some hiking shoes, wore them twice and didn't like them? They'll take them back!), and on their outlet site you can find discontinued or overstock items at a great discount. You can make it even cheaper by waiting for additional sales or opting for membership. The REI lifetime membership costs $20, and gets you get a 20% off coupon plus 10% of most purchases back at the end of the year. I bought my backpack when I saw a 10% off sale at the outlet, and combined with my membership discount, I was able to get a backpack that retails for almost $200 for about $100.

With a little patience and effort, you will likely be able to get all of the high quality travel items you need for 50-90% off of the retail price, and then turn around and use the money you saved to have some great adventures on your trip. There may still be a couple of items that you have to pay full (or almost full) price for. I couldn't find a good discount on the hammock I needed, but I bought it through REI and because of my membership I still got 10% off (and sometimes stores or sites have 10-20% off store wide), which is better than nothing. If you plan ahead and stay patient, you will probably have plenty of extra beer money for your travels. I hope these tips help you get the most out of your money and your trip.

Peace out and adventure on! 

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