thrift shopping around the world

Years ago, Michael and I spent a year and a half traveling around the world. We visited 13  countries and needed a variety of clothing – what to do when your carrying everything you need on your back? Keep things simple and visit thrift shops when possible (not every country has thrift shops of course).

We utilized thrift shops (charity shops) while traveling through Australia, New Zealand, England and Ireland. We picked up sheets (I cut and sewed) to use as curtains in our little car while driving around NZ, we also bought ceramic mugs and a few kitchen items for cooking while camping – we had camping cooking gear, but the luxury of having a car made it easier to have a few ‘nice’ things to eat and drink from – and then we left them in the last hostel where we stayed on our last night… I’m sure someone took advantage of them, if not the hostel itself, than another traveler. While in Australia I was in need of a wool sweater and I found a beautiful one. When we left, I re-donated it back to another charity shop. And in England I was in need of some fun party clothes, so off to the charity shop I went – when we left England I kept what I could (meaning what might come in handy later and fit in my backpack) and gave away the rest…

It’s a simple and cost effective way to add to your existing wardrobe while traveling. Particularly after a few months of wearing the same articles of clothing, day in and day out, it can get a bit dull…so why not utilize thrift shops, if the country your visiting has them? Plus, you may find things you wouldn’t normally at home – all the more fun!

Remember thrift shopping is not only for when your home, they are also fantastic resources to make use of, while abroad, as well…

Finn, Jess and I recently checked out the charity shop, here on Tortola, and this is what I picked up;

toy planehammer + sawpuddle bootscaprisAs serendipity would have it, Finn has been looking for a toy saw – and there it was, bonus wrench to go with it. Wooden toy plane, perfect, as Finn had just experienced his first plane ride. And then, oddly, it rained here (it’s not the season for rain), and Finn was missing his rain boots – voila, there they were…a little boy can never have too many rain boots, right?

And finally a pair of capri pants for me. I did need another pair while here as my summer weather wardrobe was lacking when I packed…

Total for all $2.50.

Charity shopping around the world – why not?

Enjoy.

winter savings

Tag sales, thrift stores, garage sales, auctions, charity shops, the dump, the curb, hand me downs, consignment shops – why pay full retail when you don’t have to? Granted, I do buy some things new – like undergarments and beds, but for a lot of my needs, I will search second hand, before buying new, or I’ll simply do without. It’s not as hard as it may sound. You just need a bit of patience. For me, the fun part is the serendipity of my finds and the knowledge that I’ve kept us on budget – or under – and, let me tell you, we have a small budget.

I have been in need of a winter coat – one cannot do without a winter coat in Maine. I’ve checked out a few thrift shops and consignment shops, but no luck. I am picky – I’m not one to settle, I’d rather layer, than wear a bad coat. But, it did start to get cold…

Then, I came across this great fleece jacket;

fleece jacket

at the dump (freebie barn). It is so cozy and warm, but I was still in need of a proper winter jacket – then I found this one, below, now I’m stylish and warm. This jacket set me back $7.  I love the color – it’s charcoal. Not black, not brown, charcoal – and the extra wide platinum zipper, love it. Plus, it’s down, and down is so needed here. It was picked up at a local church charity shop. All proceeds go back into the community.

down jacket

The dressmakers bust seen in the above photos, I picked up for $75 at auction, years ago.  The ‘slipcover’ (piece of fabric placed over and tucked into cushions) seen behind the bust, I picked up at Goodwill for $4. The chair was a hand-me-down from my grandmother. And the lovely antique bread bowl on floor, seen to the left, scored at a flea market, $65. The curtains were free, as was the side stump table (made by Michael from a fallen 100 yr. old apple tree). The prints on the wall behind, were part of a larger collection we won at auction, $5. Frames, $2 each, thrift stores finds, painted black.

I love this quote from Katy Wolk-Stanley, the non consumer advocate;

“Still squeamish about used stuff? Consider these used things that you use without a second thought. Restaurant napkins, silver wear and dishes; hotel sheets and towels; bowling shoes, your hairstylist’s drape. Then, get over yourself.”

I am SO glad I’m not one of those unfortunate souls (squeamish about used stuff). Though, I’m not impervious to buying new – I almost spent A LOT of money on a new winter coat and a number of things I eventually found for much less, if not free. See, patience and persistence does pay off. Not only for our wallets, but for the entire planet…here’s a few more free things I’ve recently picked up for free;

Blender – I couldn’t believe it.

blender

Mine recently broke (was given to me, new – lasted, 6 months – what a waste!). I missed my blender…and there it was – even better than the last blender, this one is glass, not plastic… I love it. And this sweet little pitcher – perfect for maple syrup or cream…

Oh, and the usual suspects – plastic toys. Finn loves them and I’m glad they’re not in the landfill!

kids tools

Free pinecones (I do live in the woods, in Maine)

bowl of pineconeslook lovely in a wooden bowl this time of year…the beautiful bowl, yes, free from the dump too…

I realize not everyone has a freebie barn as I do, but there is freecycle, craigslist, yard sales, auctions, curbsides (don’t laugh, I found our deep, double sided, kohler, cast iron sink, curbside) and your local newspaper. Can’t find something you need, ask family and friends – maybe they want to get rid of just the thing your in need of. And don’t forget thrift shops. Goodwill and Salvation Army are not the only ones out there…check your phone book for possible additional listings…most importantly, don’t just buy – think.

As Katy Wolk-Stanley says, “Frugality is not about having more for less. Frugality is about doing more with less.” So true.