Goodwill: The Key to Penny Packing for Low Budget Travel

August 22, 2011
Low Budget Travel

I just graduated college. Until August 11th, I am technically unemployed. I live with my parents. I have the McDonald’s Dollar Menu memorized. I siphon gas occasionally. That was a joke, but seriously I need to pack for Bangladesh on a penny. Everyone thinks that international travel involves swanky online shopping from websites like, Magellans Travel Supplies, and REI, where taglines like “everything you need for stress free travel” make all those 40-year-old-cruiseline-junkies-wet-themselves. But I’m here to tell you about a little known secret of mine called GOODWILL. Ever heard of it? It’s a magical place where you will never meet one of those cruiseline junkies because they are too busy redeeming travel points or referring to the online size calculator for the best fit of 12 pocket voyager jacket. Phew! At Goodwill, you will meet a character down any every aisle who is wondering if the sleeveless vest with a screen-printed image of a Corgi will fit her niece. Better yet, at Goodwill you have more than the freedom of online shopping in your underwear…you have hours upon hours to peruse and snake amazing deals. It’s a fight to the death at Goodwill, there are no one-click options or scruffy-looking-rock-climbing-totally-dreamy-babes-with-tanned-arms pointing out the specific bottle they prefer for outdoor rock climbing marathons (sorry)…but there are deals. And they are better than any Amazon voucher is gonna get you. Also, if you are going overseas for anything but a fancy vacation with your fiance…chances are that you are going to get dirty, throw away some items, or buy new stuff that you like more than what you originally had in your suitcase. So, doesn’t it make sense to not spend too much in the first place? Of course, staple items like flowy $50 pants from Hippie Gypsy on Mill Avenue (I’m a sucker) can sneak their way into the essential travel items, but other things like t-shirts, flashlights, undershirts, skirts, dresses, and even sunhats can be purchased for 1/34494400382728484 the price you would be paying on a fancy website or travel store. So dig in! The fact is, I currently live in Mesa, Arizona where people live for deals like they live for air conditioning…and Goodwill has caught on. This summer, they have a sale where EVERY Saturday the ENTIRE STORE is 50% off. I know what you’re thinking and yes, I just purchased my entire international outfit/gear/fashion statements for the next year in Bangladesh for approximately 40 dollars. Don’t be intimidated by my amazing shopping skills (please, hold your applause) because you can do it too. And here’s how: 1st- I advise you to bribe your younger sister who doubles as a fashion diva/model/icon to come along with you. Bribes may include your hand-me-down Coach wallet (you’re not going to use it for a year in Bangladesh, fool!), your expired and completely fake ID from college, or the final draft of her freshman, summer English paper. 2nd- Don’t get your hopes up. Goodwill is all about low expectations. Don’t walk in through those double doors thinking you are going to strike gold. Chances are you will find some silver, maybe even a gold nugget, but it’s important to keep your options open. The store now owns you, and you gotta find what will fit your travel needs since everything now fits into your budget. 3rd- Make friends with the employees. Remember the woman holding the Corgi vest? Yeah, well I adopted her as a GW friend and she HOOKED IT UP! I mean this lady not only found me a sticker that said $1.99 Linens for a bag that I found in ‘Purses,’ and was probably an estimated 11.99 (??), but she also gave me an ADDITIONAL 20% off my entire purchase by slipping me some details about an online coupon linked here. 4th- Keep your head on a swivel. I know that once you enter this mad house, you may start going buck wild, throwing every this-could-work-overseas item into your shopping cart. But stop! Soon you are going to be paying way more than what you anticipated and have too much stuff to fit into your one, 60 gallon suitcase. Be sure to evalaute all items in your shopping cart before you enter the check-out line (this is where the little sister is ESPECIALLY useful), and if you don’t have the luxury of a live Bratz doll for a sister, bring a friend, roommate, grandma, aunt Jimmie or your pool boy… and have them knock some sense into you. Chances are, you don’t really need that pair of high heeled boots in Bangladesh. 5th- You’re not done yet! After gloating over the millionzzz of dollars you just saved, it’s your turn to do something in return. You are at Goodwill of course, and this organization does a lot for your community. They have all sorts of programs, job fairs, re-entering employment opportunities, and community events that shape the area you live in. Donate some extra change or money that you just saved to the organization, and leave feeling not only like the smartest shopper eva but that you directly helped the community you are in. See, because of Goodwill, here I am in Bangladesh in my oh-so-fabulous-electric-blue-skirt-and-TOTALLY-appropriate-for-Bangla-customs! Happy shopping!

About Lauren

AvatarLauren volunteered in Bangladesh through WorldTeach.

4 thoughts on “Goodwill: The Key to Penny Packing for Low Budget Travel

  1. Avatar
    August 23, 2011

    Your excitement just flows throughout this entire blog entry! I love it and I am so amused by all of your entries.

  2. Avatar
    August 23, 2011

    This is great! It makes me think that traveling abroad may actually be in MY future one day!

  3. Avatar
    August 22, 2011

    Somehow you have captured Goodwill, packing and the wonderful humor of traveling all in one post. Hats off to you!

  4. Avatar
    August 22, 2011

    Love the electric blue skirt. You look happy (and very conservative)!

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