Thrifting For the Traveler

I love thrift store shopping. I love the fact that you can save money. I love the fact that it reduces waste. I love the fact that I can give money to a charity I care about. I love the fact that when I can’t use something, I can pass it onto something else.

When it comes to travel gear, there is no exception in that one can find great deals for great prices. Some of my favorite pieces have come from a second hand store, and they soon become favorite travel companions as I journey through the world.

My go-to travel and overnight bag is a leather duffel bag that I bought for about $10. Today’s score was a brand-new, tags attached, strap still wrapped up, American Tourister duffle bag for $4.50. I am always on the search for the next great jacket, or pair of pants, or a variety of other items that make journeys on the roll easier.

Here are my tips for scoring great finds at a great price.

Hint: this works for garage sales, eBay searches, rummage sales, and other hunts.

  1. Check the price
    • See if you are okay with the price, there is no point to continue if you don’t see the price as acceptable.
    • At many thrift stores, Saturday is the best day as extra tags are half-priced (double score).
  2. Check the brand
    • Like many things, certain brands can say a lot about the product. If it’s a branded product, I try to stick to reliable favorites and companies that have a long reputation. Brands that are common for places like Target and Walmart may be okay, but it’s unlikely that you will get the years of wear and love out of products from there.
  3. Check the value
    • If it’s a newer item, or an older version of a newer item, check on Amazon or another retailer to see the value. This may determine if the price is accurate or not.
  4. Check for tears, stains, and other blemishes.
    • Some of these are easily fixed, but some tears and issues can be a death sentence to a bag. I bought a beautiful Very Bradley duffle bag and when I got it home I noticed the handle had a terrible tear. While I fixed it, and it’s a great bag for light weight items, it is probably something I would not buy again. Some stains will come out in a wash, while others will be a permanent problem. Just decide if it’s worth it or not.
  5. Check the lining
    • sometimes linings can be completely damaged or destroyed, which may be why it was donated in the first place. Just do a thorough check in the pockets and corners for death-sentence problems.
  6. Zip the zips
    • Zippers are often one of the first things to break or wear out, so often when a zip goes, someone gets rid of the bag or jackets. Make sure everything is in working order before you purchase. If something is not too bad, and you have some sewing skills, then try replacing the zip with a new one.
  7. Measure wants and needs
    • While extra and new and shiny bags seem very exciting, it’s important to remember that one probably doesn’t need 10 duffel bags. I like to shop, but I also try to limit everything I buy because it gets too much. Thus, I sometimes shop for friends and family that I know could use something. Sometimes I just turn down the cute LeSportSac and move on.
  8. Make it fun
    • If you find thrifting to be a chore, or shopping in general, then don’t try it. You’ll end up frustrated and worn out. Check out Amazon deals and keep an eye on sales instead
    • If you like shopping, then it’s fun to go every couple of weeks and goof around.

Happy Travels!

BONUS TIP: some stores in the world offer some amazing second hand options. More on that for another day, but definitely check out local thrift stores when you are on the road!

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