How to Shop Ethically While Traveling

A souvenir does not have to be an “I heart NYC” shirt or a gator head bought at a gas station in Florida. Shopping ethically during my travels this summer was actually helpful to both my wallet and to meeting the luggage weight limit. I ended up only coming home with items that I really loved instead of tons of gaudy chotchkies. Here are some tips I learned throughout my travels this summer.

Thrift stores are unique in every city.

Every city has a unique style. I find that when I am in a new city, I start to notice small details about how the people there dress differently than I’m used to seeing back home. A thrift store will also contain these little nuances, so don’t feel weird about stopping at Goodwill in a new city. Even when traveling abroad, many places have thrift stores that go by a different name, such as a charity shop. A unique item you spend time searching for carries sentimental value and an ability to remind you of your travels (maybe even more than a snow globe). The main difference is that you will actually use it instead of having it sit on your shelf or in the back of your closet.

Keep your eye out for vintage shops.

In New York City I was SURROUNDED by vintage stores. It was heaven. Some of the coolest parts of the city I visited were because I searched for the locations of a few vintage shops online and then just branched out and explore the surrounding area.

Look for local art shops.

No matter where you go, there will probably be a community of local artist trying to make it. Look for places that real people are designing and selling things they make. It is not hard to do a quick google search. You can find much more eclectic t-shirt designs that locals actually wear or just generally interesting items.

Do your research and read the tags.

If you have access to your phone, the world is your fair-trade and sustainably farmed oyster. Google to your hearts content. I am not going to lie to you and say that shopping ethically while you travel is easy, but it is definitely possible and accessible if you are willing to put a little effort into it. I made a practice of reading the tags on items to see if their is any information on its origins, and was surprised to find that if an item is sustainable or ethical, it is usually eager to tell you so. Don’t be afraid to ask store owners or workers about where their clothing is made. If something looks suspicious, it probably is.

Get creative.

Don’t be afraid to bring home more obscure souvenirs. Locally roasted coffee beans (the bag will usually indicate if they’re fair-trade) or books about the new place. If you are traveling abroad, always grab different types of candy and snacks from the country. I have a friend who grabs business cards from all of the different places she visits. You are only as limited as your mind.

 

 

Capsule Wardrobes and Traveling Style

I started off this summer by spending five days in Washington D. C. and five days in New York City. Naturally, I wanted to dress as extra as possible while being there. However, I was encouraged to only bring a carry-on and wanted to leave plenty of room for souvenirs as well. I decided to try packing a small capsule wardrobe, and this outfit is just one of many outfits I was able to form with just a few pieces.

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A capsule wardrobe is a small collection of clothing in which all of the pieces can be worn together interchangeably. Some people do this for their entire wardrobe as a way of consuming less. If that’s your thing, awesome! However, for those of us who consider fashion a hobby, it is a little less feasible to do this on a daily basis. My capsule wardrobe was composed of a smaller selection of the clothes that I already owned that would fit easily into a carry-on.

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Here is the break down of my capsule wardrobe: two skirts, three tops, two dresses, and one pair of shorts. It was important for me to choose light weight items and items that all fit into the same color scheme. These items make a combined total of eleven outfits. Capsule wardrobes don’t have to be boring and neutral. Accessories, like this vintage scarf from my grandma, take up almost no space. I brought lots of scarves, necklaces, and hair-clips which put a new spin on an old outfit if I decided to wear it again.


After packing all of these items, I still had an entire half of my bag empty, which I promptly filled full of vintage and thrifted items from New York. If not for your everyday wardrobe, I recommend capsule wardrobes for traveling. Less time picking out an outfit means more time for ice cream in Chinatown.

Let me know if anyone is interested in a post about my vintage shopping experience in NYC!