7 Easy Ways to Save on Travel Gear

If you're getting ready for a big trip in the near future, you're probably discovering that buying travel gear can add up pretty fast. Maybe you're looking into investing in a good pair of hiking boots, a tent, and a sleeping bag. Maybe you just need new luggage or a backpack.

Having the right supplies is a good way to ensure that the trip goes well, and some expenses just can't be avoided no matter what. The good news is your gear doesn't have to break the bank.

1. Shop Around for the Best Sales

Depending on where you're planning to go shopping, you'll always want to try to buy your items when they are on sale. This might mean buying last year's model, but if it's an investment piece such as sturdy luggage, you'll want to pick something that is timeless anyway.

Some stores will have semiannual or annual sales, so ask a sales representative when their next sale will be. You can also subscribe to a store's email list to be notified of upcoming sales.

When you're looking for the best deals on gear, start shopping earlier rather than later. Give yourself ample time before you leave on your trip and avoid paying full retail price at the last minute.

2. Check the Chain Discount Stores

Discount stores like TJ Maxx and Marshalls are great places to look for steeply discounted travel gear. Find cheap travel gadgets like portable scales to weigh your bags (so you can avoid airline overweight baggage fees) and space-saver bags, which vacuum seal to store your clothing flat.

These little items can add up faster than you'd imagine, but buying them at a discounter will ensure that your budget for gear goes much further.

3. Use Rewards Points

Some retailers offer rewards programs to encourage you to shop at their store more frequently. Eastern Mountain Sports, for example, offers a good rewards program that gives you a certain percentage back on your purchases in the form of a coupon that they mail out every so often. Especially when you're planning big purchases, make sure that you are getting reward points that can help defray the cost of future purchases.

Other stores may further reward you for opening a credit card with them. Store credit cards can help you earn points faster and entitle you to special sales and discounts. If you're not familiar with their program, ask a sales representative before making your purchases. Just be sure you pay off your balance every month, because interest rates tend to be high on store cards.

4. Shop at the Right Time of the Year

To return to the example of Eastern Mountain Sports, this can be a great place to shop around the holidays. Often if you spend a certain amount, you will receive a gift card (usually for December, before Christmas).

Even better are end-of-season sales (which often take place before the season is really over). Winter gear may go on sale as early as January; summer gear as early as July. Again, by planning ahead you can strategically purchase your travel gear when there are the best offers.

5. Consider Buying Secondhand

You don't always need your gear to be completely new and buying secondhand can be a great value if you're looking to significantly cut your costs. You can count on saving of at least 50% compared to buying new gear.

There are some stores that specialize in secondhand gear and clothes, so check listings in your area to find out what your options are. You can also check online resources, like Craigslist and eBay, that will connect you directly with a seller.

6. Buy It When You Get There

Depending on where you're planning to travel, it may make more financial sense to hold off on your travel gear purchases until you arrive.

For example, Nepal is a very common trekking destination and in the capital, Kathmandu, you can find entire streets filled with people selling sleeping bags, tents, and other trekking gear at steeply discounted rates from what you'd find in the United States.

You can get quality, discounted gear in other places, too. In France, the store Decathlon offers good technical gear that is much more affordable than in the United States. Chamonix Alpine Equipment in Hong Kong has great prices on rock climbing shoes and other gear.

Research your destination and find out how prices compare. Sometimes just waiting until you set off on your trip can save you a lot of money, plus the cost of transporting your gear there.

7. Does It Make Sense to Rent?

This is something every traveler needs to carefully consider. Sometimes rental costs can be exorbitant. Consider, for instance, renting a canoe at $45 a day. If you have the canoe for a week, you’d have paid for the cost of the entire canoe.

On the flip side, while you may not own the canoe, you do not have to haul it to your destination and back, store and maintain it, or find a buyer for it. All of that takes time — and money.

Rentals often offer great convenience, especially if it's a one-time experience and not likely to be something that you will use again in the future.

Whether you're buying new or used gear, or renting, there are many options to get a great value on travel gear. Decide what your priorities are and consider your budget before you get to the store. By doing a bit of research ahead of time, you can save a lot of money once you're ready to buy.

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7 Easy Ways to Save on Travel Gear

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