Travel Tip #37: Check Out the Local Thrift Stores

When traveling, whether it be a road trip to the next state over, or a month-long backpacking adventure, I find that I am always on somewhat of a tight budget.  There are also always certain things I like to acquire when traveling: a post card, a shot glass, a t-shirt for my mom, a key chain, a Harley Davidson T-shirt for my dad, and a piece of local jewelry.

I come from a long line of collectors and my gypsy blood loves to help me feed not only my collections, but everyone’s. However, feeding everyone’s collections can become expensive very quickly, so I have found that one day on your trip when perhaps the weather is bad  and you’ve already done all the inside activities you wanted to do, spend a day going to the local thrift shops and antique stores.

Thrift shops are pretty standard, even in different countries. The chances of you finding a really awesome t-shirt from a local bar or restaurant that still has the city name on it is almost guaranteed. Also, once I found four Harley Davidson T-shirts for my dad, all from different cities including the one I was visiting, and they all had the tags still on them. Think about it, you get shirts from your home town all the time and they may not mean anything to you, but for a traveler on a budget, a t-shirt with the city name on it is like gold. Depending on what you do with your t-shirts, whether it be quilting, turning them into scarves or tote-bags, or actually wearing them, this is a great way to build that collection on a budget.

Also, if you find something really cool, like the vintage red denim jacket I found at a thrift store in Berlin, or the $3 pair of boots I found at the Goodwill in Charleston, SC, whenever anyone says “Oh I love that where’d you get it?” You can reply “Oh, I picked it up in Berlin.” (Or wherever you might have been when you got it)

Antique stores are great too, especially for trinket souvenirs like key chains, shot glasses, and postcards. The average shot glass is between six and eight dollars. However, in an antique or thrift store you might be able to find three for six dollars, which if you are buying for friends, this will really help cut down on costs. You might also stumble across a unique piece of local artisan jewelry, or a figurine you might not have seen otherwise. Local souvenirs, even in antique stores, can still be fairly inexpensive because most of the people in that town don’t want or need an entire collection of their hometown shot glasses or key chains.

Also, the goodwill chains in Charleston, SC ring a giant dinner bell every time they bring out a rack of new items,  and this moment alone is worth hanging out in one for a few hours, only because everyone in the store literally stops whatever they are doing and rushes over to the new rack. Don’t think I wasn’t right there with them, but it is quite a sight to see.

If it is rainy or gloomy out, or you still need gifts for everyone, including yourself, spend some time in the local thrift/ antique shops. You never know what treasure you might find, and it is always fun to “movie montage” or have a “crazy thrift store fashion show.” Bring the camera and two twenty dollar bills.. you’ll have a blast.





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