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A simple Google search of the words ‘travel gear’ will instantly bring up 1000s of specialized travel gear options. You’ll see phrases like moisture-wicking, odor-resistant, temperature-regulating, and wrinkle-free to name a few.
Now these attributes are all very cool and will no doubt make your trip easier and more comfortable BUT they do oftentimes come with a hefty price tag.
Here at HPL, we want to ensure that you have the best trip possible. So even if full-priced fancy travel gear is not in your budget, we want to share some tips and tricks for scoring bargain travel gear.
If you want the same great gear for a bargain price tag… read on.
10 Tips From HPL to Score Bargain Travel Gear
1 – Shop for Secondhand Gear Online
Travel gear and clothing are something you should 100% look for secondhand. One of the perks of travel-specific clothes is that they are often made from materials that wear better than normal fabrics. They stay looking newer for longer no matter how many times they have been worn and washed.
You’ll likely receive the item looking almost brand new.
Some people also buy all the expensive travel gear only to go on one trip, realize maybe it’s not for them, and sell all of their gear almost new.
Shop for secondhand gear online! Check eBay, Amazon, Gumtree, Craigslist, and the like for slightly used bits and pieces. Backpacks and tents are both good options here, and deals on those items can save you a pretty penny.
Garage sales and moving sales can also lead to a jackpot if you’re lucky.
- Sometimes, full-priced will be the only way to get your desired gear before a trip. In that case, it’s important to evaluate cost in relation to the amount of use to decide on whether or not travel gear is “worth it”.
2 – Track your Wish List Items
We all have items that we want but think there is no chance of ever getting. Add these items to your wish list anyway, you never know when bargain travel gear will appear. Once you’ve added all your favorite items to your wish list, track them to make sure you never miss a sale!
Make sure you check on your wish list items around season changes as many places will be having seasonal sales.
If you’re an Amazon Prime customer, you can even set up alerts to make sure you get notified when one of your Amazon wish list items goes on sale.
3 – Plan for Black Friday Deals
Is there something you’ve been eyeing out the whole year but have never been able to purchase? Black Friday might be the perfect time to grab it! Lots of gear and clothing will be massively reduced.
However, it pays to be prepared. Make sure you know exactly what you want and if you’re shopping in-store, GO EARLY!
It also pays to be early if you’re planning on doing your Black Friday shopping online. You want to make sure you nab your dream item before it sells out. Try the item on in the store beforehand if you can so you know exactly what size to get.
4 – Buy Off-Brand
Specialty travel brands are often more expensive than their off-brand counterparts. A lot of what you are paying for with specialty travel brands is the name.
And while they no doubt do everything they claim to do, there are some items that you can buy off-brand. Take travel cubes for example. The brand name ones might come with warranties or special features but they can be expensive.
My favorite packing cubes, the Eagle Creek Pack-it Isolate Compression Cube Set retails for $40 for two packing cubes, while you can get an 8-piece set for only $24.99 on Amazon and you’ll find even cheaper sets at the dollar store, and Ikea.
Some HPL readers have been using the cheap dollar store version for years and love them while others didn’t like how flimsy they felt. It all depends on your needs.
Make sure to do your research and check reviews before buying an off-brand bargain to ensure you are getting the best product possible.
5 – Enter Giveaways
Now this one might be a long shot, but it’s worth a try! Follow your favorite travel brands on Instagram and Facebook to keep up to date with their latest competitions. Many of these brands will do amazing giveaways when they launch a new product or at the start of a new season.
You’re already scrolling social media, so why not keep an eye out for some bargains while you’re at it?
6 – Make it yourself
Are you a master behind a sewing machine? You just might be able to make your own gear, like sleep sheets and money belts, with fabric you already have lying around. Not only is this a great way to save money, but you can customize your travel pieces and make something really unique.
If you’re not a sewing master, you can get no sew tape that you just need an iron to use. You can even upcycle old clothes/bedding/tablecloths that you’re not using anymore.
- Check out this article on how to make your travel clothing work better for you with alterations.
7 – Trade With Other Travelers
Do you have a piece of travel gear that you spent a lot of money on but turns out it’s not actually a great match for you? That item is probably sitting at the back of your closet gathering dust even though it is in perfect condition.
What wasn’t a great match for you is probably on someone else’s wishlist so TRADE IT.
Join local Facebook traveler groups or post on Facebook marketplace that you’re looking to make a trade. Chances are you’ll end up with some rad gear that wasn’t a great fit for someone else.
You can also do this while you’re traveling. Chat with people at hostels and on tours. Maybe they brought something along that they really don’t want to be carrying in their backpack anymore.
8 – Borrow From Friends
Know someone who just got back from a big backpacking trip? Maybe they now have no soon need for their gear and can loan it to a trustworthy friend. Doesn’t hurt to ask!
They also might have some items that they’re planning on selling for cheap!
9 – Buy while you travel
If you’re going somewhere where the currency is a lot weaker than your local currency, you’ll be able to find travel items for a lot cheaper than you’re used to. While this might be the normal local price, it will be a bargain for you!
If you need something immediately as you arrive at your destination, you can even order it online to be delivered to your hotel. That way it will be ready and waiting when you arrive.
10 – Look for travel-friendly material rather than brands
Look at the fabrics of your favorite travel gear and try to find pieces made of similar materials. Keep an eye out for nylon, polyester, rayon, fleece, bamboo, and merino wool to name a few.
A lot of sports clothing is made from material that is perfect for traveling because of its moisture-wicking and odor-resistant qualities but at a lower price than specialty travel gear.
Bonus Tip: One of the easiest ways to save money on travel gear is to buy less of it. Half the stuff we are advertised we don’t really need and will just end up taking up room in your bag.
(Also… There’s a syndrome that keeps you buying all the gear.)
Downsize your packing list and you’ll notice how much less you have to worry about both before and during your travels.
To know exactly what to buy and pack and what to leave behind, grab my free guide 3 Steps to Packing Everything You Need & Nothing More
3 Bargain Travel Gear Lessons from a Fellow Traveler
The following segment has been written by Emily Bruns, a high school social studies teacher in Mason City. She enjoys traveling and loves the outdoors, particularly backpacking, hiking, fishing, and riding horses. She has a life goal to visit every national park.
Although I consider myself to be a novice backpacker, I am a veteran bargain hunter. My deal-finding talents were extremely helpful when preparing for my first backpacking trip.
The summer before my senior year in high school, the wilderness education program were scheduled to go to Isle Royale National Park. With money from my summer babysitting jobs in my bank account and a desire to challenge myself, I waltzed into my science teacher’s office, filled out an application, wrote out a check, and unknowingly signed up for the most incredible experience of my life.
Lesson Number 1: Gifts are Great
Even though I had enough money to pay for the trip, I was still concerned about having enough money to buy my gear. A lot of gear was provided by the school. I did, however, end up using my own backpack. My dad bought me my own Gregory backpack for Christmas that year.
Gifts are great! Don’t be afraid to ask for travel gear for Christmas, birthdays, and other occasions.
Lesson Number 2: Outlets are Your Friend
Despite the fact that much of the actual backpacking gear was provided to us, I still had to buy backpacking clothes, hiking boots, rain gear, and more. Here’s where my bargain shopping skills came into play.
I was doing some Christmas shopping and hadn’t intended to buy any backpacking gear until I walked into the Columbia Outlet store. The store had hiking shorts and shirts for around five to eight dollars each. I bought a pair of Columbia hiking boots for around thirty dollars, and I bought a light rain jacket for around fifteen bucks.
I walked out with tons of clothes, and it was only later I realized I only needed about half of what I bought.
I will be the first to admit that shopping at outlets is pretty hit-or-miss. My best advice for shopping at outlets is to shop in the opposite season of what you are looking to buy. My backpacking trip was going to be in June. When I visited the store in December, they had all of their summer gear ridiculously marked down.
Also, think outside the box. The Columbia store might have clothes geared toward the outdoors, but other outlets, such as Nike, Adidas, GH Bass and Co., etc. have a lot of useful gear too.
Lesson Number 3: Browse your Closet
My last lesson for bargain shopping for travel gear is to browse your closets! This should probably be the first step in determining what you need to purchase for your trip.
Depending on where you are traveling, the workout clothes you have work just as well for backpacking and/or traveling. I wore my dry-fit practice jersey from my high school soccer team on my trip, as well as bringing my warm-up sweatpants to wear at night.
When all my gear was purchased, the only thing left to do was embark on my journey.
Although at first I wasn’t sure how I was going to survive for eight days carrying 45 pounds of gear (too much gear, in retrospect), I quickly got over my aching feet and started appreciating the park.
Isle Royale is rugged, and the mosquitos were awful, but there is a beauty there, unlike anything I have ever experienced.
If you haven’t already, put it on your bucket list. You won’t regret it.
Do you have any budget travel gear tips to share? Do it below!
P.S. You might also like this post on unlikely sources of where to buy travel gear