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Shopping for your everyday outfits and shopping for travel are two very different things. Shopping for travel requires a different mindset and process. Follow our guide to shopping for travel to help you build the perfect travel wardrobe!
Shopping for Travel
Creating the perfect travel wardrobe doesn’t have to cost a fortune. In fact, there are many times where you can shop your own closet and have everything you need.
Once you review the clothes you already own, decide if you need to purchase any new items. Follow these shopping tips to make the most of your budget!
Where to Start
- Learn the art of the capsule wardrobe – this is key to packing light. Read our Signature Capsules Wardrobes to learn how!
- Clean out your closet. Find as many pieces as possible you think would work on your trip. Follow these guidelines on how to choose the right travel clothing.
- Plan a budget! Do you have money allotted to buy clothing or gear for your trip or will you shop in your own closet?
- Mark down what you have and what you need to buy. Stick to your budget! Have fun!
- Before you go shopping, make a list of any items you weren’t able to find in your closet. Refer to the list of favorite retailers you created earlier in the course and hit the shops! You can find a listing of recommended retailers on Travel Fashion Girl’s Best Online Shopping Sites directory.
- Always keep receipts and don’t remove tags until you finalize your travel wardrobe.
Because of my nomadic lifestyle, I didn’t always have access to the best retail stores in every location, so I shopped online – a lot. In fact, I still do. I have certain go-to stores that make my life easier.
My favorite place is Amazon because you can sometimes find lower prices than other retailers, and you can read tons of feedback and other buyers’ reviews.
Plus, as a Prime member, I get free 1-2 day shipping and sometimes free returns, making the online shopping process much faster.
My other favorite site is Nordstrom because I get a wide breadth of selection from decent brands and quality, and it doesn’t always have to cost an arm and a leg. I like that they offer the latest styles with the quality that I desire.
I like shopping online because I can research all the possibilities, read reviews, and start planning my initial capsule wardrobe!
Here are some money saving tips to purchase clothing and travel gear:
- Shop off season! I love shopping after summer and winter because you can get great deals on clothing that would be perfect for your next vacation. I’ve just purchased the majority of my clothing for my upcoming trip to India from $5 to $15 per piece!
- Sign up for newsletters from your favorite retailers to get updates on their latest sales. I wanted a pair of shorts from Athleta for the longest time, but refused to pay $55. The second Athleta had a sale, I got an email and bought my shorts for 30% off. Score!
- Find out if the retailer has an outlet. Many popular stores have online outlets including REI, Mango, J. Crew, and Nordstrom (my favorite). Sometimes they carry merchandise at a fraction of the cost as the current price in the regular store. I bought a designer handbag for $150 at Nordstrom Rack when it was selling for $300 at Nordstrom. Love it!
- Head over to your nearest discount retailer and scour the racks for highly discounted gear. TJ Maxx, Ross, and Marshalls are great options in the US, and in the UK they have TK Maxx. I especially like these stores for deals on shoes, fitness wear, and under garments. I’ve also seen highly discounted luggage brands such as Tumi, Fossil, and Eagle Creek.
- Buy big ticket items like luggage, backpacks, and electronics during holiday sales such as Christmas, New Year’s, Memorial Day, and Labor Day. My absolute favorite time to shop for these items is the day after Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday. Take advantage of the early bird deals all weekend. This is how I bought my first backpack. I couldn’t believe that the majority of outdoor bags were well over $200, and not only did my backpack go on sale during Thanksgiving, but they were offering 25% off on top of that! My $200 backpack cost $125. A price tag that was way more manageable.
- Search for the diamond in the rough at second hand stores. You might find an excellent winter coat with a bargain basement price tag or a cute handbag that would add a hint of vintage appeal to your outfits. Buyer beware – make sure it’s in good condition, because the last thing you want is your suitcase falling apart in the middle of your trip (or in the beginning, which sort of indirectly happened to me).
- If you want to sport designer digs, but don’t have the budget to back it up, look for consignment shops in your area or search for some online. This is basically like a designer eBay where people sell their high-end clothing and accessories at a fraction of the cost. Merchandise is usually inspected and approved by the shop owner, so authenticity and condition are guaranteed. I haven’t purchased anything at a consignment shop, but I did sell my Marc Jacobs and Givenchy shoes at the famous Decades in LA. I didn’t make as much money as I would have like, but it was better than keeping them in storage.
- Beg, borrow, but don’t steal. Ask your family or friends if they have items such as luggage, sleeping bags, and other outdoor gear to loan you for your trip. On my first two-week overland trip in Africa, I was using a friend’s backpack, sleeping bag, and rolling mat. I saved tons of cash and reaped the benefits from the quality of their very expensive gear.
- Have a clothing swap with your friends or family! When I was working in the fashion industry, some girls and I would get together and bring a pile of clothing we no longer wanted. We traded one-for-one and had a brand new selection of clothing while clearing out old items we no longer wanted. You can apply this same principle to anything. I held a Freecycle event in Koh Phangan, Thailand, the first recycling event on the island, and people brought stuff they no longer wanted and people could take anything for free. It’s a fun way to shop sustainably.
- Sign up for “free” online sites where people give away things they no longer need. It may be a long shot for you to find that perfect suitcase, but you never know. Give it a shot. Sites with free merchandise include Craigslist, local Couchsurfing forums, and freecycle.org.
- Check out online sites such as eBay, Craigslist (US), Gumtree (UK), and Local Swap/Sales Groups on Facebook. People sell a variety of stuff. I’ve seen Eagle Creek backpacks, The North Face trousers, and other outdoor goods for sale. Likewise, if you buy items for a trip that you only plan to use once, sell them on these sites and make some money back. I want to do this with my collection of Osprey Bags, but I can’t bring myself to part with them even though I could probably get a few hundred for them.
- Amazon is an excellent place to score deals on everything from shoes to luggage, underwear, and travel gear. As you’ll read below I do most of my shopping online and at least half my stuff is from Amazon. They have a wide selection and many times items are cheaper here than anywhere else. I’m an Amazon Addict!
For our favorite retailers, check out our best online shopping sites list!
What would you add to this guide to shopping for travel? Comment with your tips below!
For more shopping tips, please read:
- Online Shopping Guide
- How to Shop for Travel Shoes
- 6 Places to Get Cheap Plus Size Clothing for Travel
- 7 Essential Travel Clothing Brands
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