10 Tips How to Save and Shop For Fashion on Travel


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10 Tips How to Save and Shop For Fashion on Travel (See also the highlights on our YouTube channel for Solo Trekker 4 U):

Tip 1: Shop like a local.

Slovenia  in the Heart of Winter

Unfortunately, this may require a foray into distant suburbs only to end up like Hansel and Gretel looking for lost bread crumbs. I had a great adventure by bus on a snowy day in Slovenia. Not encumbered by even one word of Slovenian, I shopped at a suburban mall using sign language.  Having precise directions back, I quickly discovered the joke was on me. I was on the right bus, but it took a different route than my way out! As we made our way through the capital Ljubljana, I had an inspired idea. One of the young students on board was likely studying English. I was swiftly redirected and once again found my hotel. (In any case, students will always have a smartphone where you can find the way back!)

10 Tips How to Save and Shop For Fashion on Travel:

Tip 2: Take a look at the local zoo boutique.

One of my favorite travel purchases was a necklace from the St. Louis Zoo. Why are zoos such good resources?  Since all large zoos have species from around the world, they offer items for sale that showcase multiple regions. As a result, their gift shops typically have signature necklaces of favorite breeds at many price levels.


Goldtone Souvenir of an Elephant-Back Safari

Tip 3:  Find fabulous fakes at museum shops.

“Model” Wearing a Vermeil Copy from the Museum of Gold

Museum shops have chic copies of famous jewelry and classic artifacts. One of my favorites was the Museo de Oro/Museum of Gold in San Jose, Costa Rica. Although museum shops can be very expensive., they tend to have something for everyone. For jewelry, that can start at the high end for gold or vermeil but also have more economical sterling silver and gold tone options.

10 Tips How to Save and Shop For Fashion on Travel:

Tip 4: Missed “Fashion Week”? Check out designer samples and couture consignment shops. 

How to Pack Light to Save with Style for All Budgets

Chanel at a discount but not a steal!

A very elegant friend pointed me in this direction in Paris. There are two challenges with this approach. There is no guaranty as to the sizes which may be available. Secondly, couture even gently used typically carries $1,000 prices per item.

Tip 5:  Shop at women’s collectives, and contribute to local micro-enterprise.

As a woman solo traveler, I  enjoyed shopping at a local collective in northern India. The products ranged from brightly colored silk phone carriers to practical cotton slacks. This may not be the least expensive source. However, such micro-centers allow women to be paid a fair sum for their work to help support themselves and their families.

10 Tips How to Save and Shop For Fashion on Travel:

Tip 6:  Take a favorite outfit from home, and have it custom-made.


My Washington “Kurti” Copied in Jaipur in Local Silks

I took one of my well-worn, favorite summer shirts to Jaipur.  I had it repaired and 3 copies made. The shop had reams of brightly colored silks from economical to luxurious. I worked with the shop to design three different shirts each combining two contrasting silks. They were a perfect fit and were quickly completed. They would have been virtually impossible to find at home.

10 Tips How to Save and Shop For Fashion on Travel:

Tip 7: Crossing the Equator? Shop end of season sales, and save up to 50%!

A Great Fabric but Better for Home Decor than for an Outfit!

When I previously traveled to South Africa repeatedly for work, I loved the shopping. Going to the Southern Hemisphere, I always arrived just in time for their end of season sales.  Added to a great strength of the dollar, I would come home with 3-4 new outfits every trip. An added benefit? Their styles were very fashion-forward combining two colors like peach and navy. I still wear them proudly and have never found anything similar elsewhere.

So if you travel below the Equator, from Africa to Argentina and Australia, be sure to see what’s for sale at the end of their season.

10 Tips How to Save and Shop For Fashion on Travel:

Tip 8: What can you do about buyers’ remorse?

“Kanger-phant”, Mother Elephant “Carrying” Her Baby in a Kangeroo Pouch!

Is it more costume than couture? Do you wonder why you bought it, consider:

Donating it before you leave.

Wearing it for athletics or pajamas at home.

Making it into a tablecloth!

(The same goes for gifts for friends and family.  Josh Gates on Expedition Unknown once featured a truly unique souvenir.  It was not just shrunken heads, but they were smiling shrunken heads.  Apparently, they were in on a joke they hadn’t yet shared with us!)


10 Tips How to Save and Shop For Fashion on Travel:

Tip 9: Add to the “deal price” the cost of getting it home!

From “Zam (bia)” to “Zim (babwe)” and Home in DC

On a quick solo trip across the border of Zimbabwe to Zambia, I bought this 6’2″ wood giraffe on the road side to grace my hall at home. When I left Victoria’s Falls for a business meeting in Harare, I found out fast how hard it was to carry it in one hand and my bag in the other.

At the airport to head home, it took some real negotiating to avoid a $100 charge to find a “seat” for my new pet. So always find out if there are cheaper ways to ship a purchase home.

Tip 10: Factor in a Customs delay.

On arrival in Boston, my unwieldy giraffe and I were quickly split from the pack. I watched as it made its way through a CT scan. I found myself delving into a mystery novel as my giraffe was further scrutinized. At last, we were sent on our way.  So if you have a tight flight to catch, think about shipping.

Now every time I open my front door, I am warmly greeted by a small bit of Africa. Whether you wear it or not, even the worst looking souvenir or strangest purchase abroad can bring back a smile of your last solo travel.

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