How I Afford to Travel: Saving Money on Clothes

How I Afford to Travel the World

Americans spend an average of $1,700 per year on clothing and accessories, some people spend more, some less. To me, this seems like a lot of money that could be spent on travel. Which brings up one of the ways I am able to afford to travel. I limit my spending on clothing by scouring for discounts, and just having less clothing in general. I have been wearing some of the same clothing for years, it’s not essential for me to have a new outfit each week like television, online and magazine ads would try to convince me of. I don’t feel the need to buy new clothes all the time when I’m satisfied with the clothes I still have. Not to mention consuming less is much better for the environment. Forget fast fashion-to keep my style unique, I choose instead to mix and match my clothes, wear different makeup and accessorize.

One of my all time favorite purchases was when I found four lightweight polyester dresses. This was back in 2007 when I was in NYC, they were only $5 and because it was too good of a deal to pass up, I bought them in four different colors! Now, I bring a different color dress on each of my travels! They dry fast, are fun, comfortable and surprisingly durable. I like to accessorize them with scarves, and not once has someone complained to me about reusing an old outfit. (Note: Below you will see a photo of me and one of my scarves that I’ve had for nine years!)

When I do venture out to shop, I like to hit up thrift stores for unique bargains. If I decide instead to get newer clothes they are often, off season from discount stores like Ross or TJ Maxx and almost always on clearance. I’m also Ebay savvy. It’s taken some trial and error but over the years I have learned not to buy something just because it’s on sale though. It’s not always a good idea to buy clothing just because it’s less than a tank of gas. Because I’m careful with what I’m purchasing I am able to splurge items I really want and those are the ones I usually wear very often for years. Also if I’m able to, I try to fix my clothing when it’s on its last legs, rather than just throwing it away and replacing it with something new.

Below you can view a variety of my clothing that has stuck by me (quite literally) as I’ve worn it through the years on my travels.

How I Afford to Travel the World: Saving Monday on Clothes

How I Afford to Travel the World: Saving Monday on Clothes

How I Afford to Travel the World: Saving Monday on Clothes

How I Afford to Travel the World: Saving Monday on Clothes

How I Afford to Travel the World: Saving Monday on Clothes

How I Afford to Travel the World: Saving Monday on Clothes

How I Afford to Travel the World: Saving Monday on Clothes

How I Afford to Travel the World: Saving Monday on Clothes

How I Afford to Travel the World: Saving Monday on Clothes

Do you have any tips for saving money on clothing? Share in the comments below!

  1. Milene - My Cup of Travel

    January 23, 2014 at 1:01 pm

    I think exactly like you. If you want to travel a lot then you have to save on something else, for me that has always been clothing. Besides that when I travel I most of the time stick to the same clothing… Great post!!

  2. Phoebe (Short Road to Happy)

    January 23, 2014 at 1:21 pm

    Great post, Anna! I’m the same – choose something that works and buying it in all colors! 🙂
    Phoebe (Short Road to Happy) recently posted…We did it!My Profile

  3. Kathleen @ Our Favorite Adventure

    January 23, 2014 at 6:13 pm

    Anna! Love this post It must have taken a good amount of time/effort to find all of the pics! Definitely worth it because it really makes your point so eloquently with such a wonderful demonstration! Couldn’t agree more about having some good, light-weight, quick-drying clothes that take care of you and can be worn on so many different occasions.

    Great article! Looking forward to the rest of your series!
    Kathleen @ Our Favorite Adventure recently posted…Part of my Epic 30 Before 30 ListMy Profile

  4. Rachel

    January 23, 2014 at 8:05 pm

    I am completely the same. It doesn’t make sense for me to have a bunch of different outfits due to money spent, available space (can’t put much in the back of a truck!) and the fact that I have a few choice outfits that I love above the rest anyway. Like you, I’m also a huge fan of Ross. They have great clothes that I’ve had for years that are just as fashionable as the top brand store clothing.
    Rachel recently posted…Lunenburg, Nova ScotiaMy Profile

  5. Christina Gmyr

    January 23, 2014 at 8:23 pm

    I’m the same!! As a fellow traveler this makes total sense, but most of my female friends find it strange that I don’t want to go shopping with them all the time. The fact that I simply don’t enjoy shopping that much definite contributes, but mostly I just don’t see the point when that money could go towards my next plane ticket and the subsequent amazing adventures & lifelong memories 🙂
    Christina Gmyr recently posted…10 terrifying (yet amazing) ways to make the most of your 20′sMy Profile

  6. Nita

    January 23, 2014 at 9:15 pm

    Great post Anna, and a wonderful demonstration. You are very creative in the mix-and-match department! All outfits still look great. Love the dresses too. They can be worn forever!! 😉 Good luck on the new series and look forward to more posts!
    Nita recently posted…Travel Moments – 2013My Profile

  7. Charli | Wanderlusters

    January 23, 2014 at 10:00 pm

    Great tips Anna. I too have to mix and match the hell out of all my clothing to keep my backpack at a weight that i can carry! Love how resourceful you are with your fashion!
    Charli | Wanderlusters recently posted…Travel Chat | The Freedom of ChoiceMy Profile

  8. Sofie

    January 23, 2014 at 11:21 pm

    Love this post!

    I used to go shopping a lot when I was at university and then when I started working I realized that I’d been shopping so much just because I had the time to do so and because I was often near stores.
    I never actually needed anything.
    Now I own, like you, several items that I’ve had for years and that are still doing fine.
    I’ll wear t-shirts that start to look crappy to sleep in and if something really doesn’t fit anymore or if it was a wrong buy from years ago, I’ll try to sell it for a small percentage of the original price. This doesn’t work very often (I don’t have the patience to spend hours at clothes sales and such), but when it does the money is always welcome.
    Even if it’s just $5: $5 can get you a meal!
    Or a cute dress;)

    I still splurge once in a while, but I’m much more conscious of what I buy and also where I buy it.
    For example: I splurged on both my trips to LA and I’d planned to do so because I knew that the clothes would be cheaper there (the Euro is still stronger than the dollar) and because the clothes you can get there are so different from over here.

    Wow, I just realized this comment is getting pretty long.
    I think I’ll write my own post about this:-)

    PS Anna, I love your style. Really. You always look fab!

  9. Kimmy Hayes

    January 24, 2014 at 1:02 am

    Great tips. All the corners you cut to save money really add up. I barely buy clothes anymore, either. When I do need them, I always head to a second hand store.

  10. Jenna

    January 24, 2014 at 3:21 am

    Love this! So true–people don’t realize how much the little things can add up. I like all the photos with the same outfits! It’s fun to wear the same thing but be able to make it look different!
    Jenna recently posted…Tips for a Successful Road TripMy Profile

  11. Ash Janine

    January 24, 2014 at 4:50 am

    Hmmm I need to take this to heart. sometimes i buy just because its on sale. but like you, i get it from clearance, walmart, tjmax and such. its about how you wear it 🙂

  12. Karisa

    January 24, 2014 at 5:18 am

    This is such a great post!!! This is definitely something I need to work on. I have a bad habit of buying clothes when I travel!
    Karisa recently posted…Christmas at Home in PennsylvaniaMy Profile

  13. Stefania @The Italian Backpacker

    January 24, 2014 at 11:10 am

    Wow, it’s incredible how those clothes always look new even after many years. And they are so colourful! It’s a great tip, many people don’t realize how much money they spend on clothes and accessories.
    Stefania @The Italian Backpacker recently posted…The Other Czech RepublicMy Profile

  14. Lance | Trips By Lance

    January 24, 2014 at 6:22 pm

    This usually isn’t a topic I comment on much, but I just wanted to add that the way you show the photos of each outfit in several places really sends the message home. It’s one thing to say “be frugal, don’t shop much.” It’s another to actually give examples of how it works. My personal favorite is thrift shops. My wardrobe is mostly button-down shirts bought at thrifts. Some of my shirts are from the 70s, but they look great now. Of course it helps that my wife is a frugal shopper and does all my shopping for me.
    Lance | Trips By Lance recently posted…Friday Travel Inspiration: Honoring Native AmericansMy Profile

  15. Mike

    January 25, 2014 at 4:39 am

    we couldn’t agree more Anna…after being on the road for two years a sewing kit and a good thrift store our our two best friends when it comes to clothes. people throw way to many things away these days, and that is just senses spending.

    thanks for an awesome blog post, so glad to be getting your newsletter now 🙂
    mike & anne
    Mike recently posted…Hue: A Colorful TownMy Profile

  16. Bex

    January 26, 2014 at 7:03 pm

    It’s great that as well as travelling budget style, you also stick by your personal integrity and do the same with regards to clothes.
    I’m the same in that I don’t buy new clothes that often – although I wish I was more handy with the sewing machine! I’m happy to give the little old lady around the corner business though – she’s quite happy to sew patches on my jeans for next to nothing.
    Bex recently posted…From sunny Greece to frozen Alberta, Canada – an expat’s experiences.My Profile

  17. Cacinda Maloney

    January 26, 2014 at 7:42 pm

    Well, I do have tos ay you are very resourceful! I don't typically limit myself, but I think I don't buy as much as the typical American in the first place. I like quality pieces, so I am more apt to buy one great piece that I will have for years, that is made with quailty, than to buy a lot of cheap pieces that don't last me too long. Kudos to you for knowing ways to make travel happen!!

  18. frankaboutcroatia

    January 26, 2014 at 8:14 pm

    It’s true that if you want to travel, you have to prioritize. It’s so easy to spend money on things that we don’t even need. It’s nice to see what you mean through the photos you’ve put together. Great idea!
    frankaboutcroatia recently posted…In Dubrovnik, like a touristMy Profile

  19. Antonette Spaan

    January 28, 2014 at 6:25 am

    Ohhh LOL – I have too many clothes and therefor decided that this year I'm not going to buy anything new unless completely necessary. With the money I save (which could be up to € 1000) I am hoping to pay for my trip to California 🙂 happy traveling from The Netherlands!

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  21. NZ Muse

    February 9, 2014 at 3:45 am

    My secret is I hardly ever buy new clothing. I thrift shop which enables me to save a lot and also get really good quality, better than if I was to shop new at the kind of stores I can afford full price for.
    NZ Muse recently posted…Link love (Powered by crutches and Mexican blankets)My Profile

  22. sol

    April 22, 2014 at 4:52 am

    Wonderful demonstration! Great advice for saving…

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  25. Debbie Theodosiou

    June 27, 2014 at 7:37 am

    That's a great post!! I think everything is a matter of priorities! Some people prioritize cliothing others (us) travelling!!
    Have fun around the world and keep us informed!!

  26. Debbie

    June 27, 2014 at 7:39 am

    That’s a great post!! I think everything is a matter of priorities! Some people prioritize cliothing others (us) travelling!!
    Have fun around the world and keep us informed!!
    Debbie recently posted…Photo of the dayMy Profile

  27. reza

    October 26, 2015 at 7:36 am

    i love are magnificent.

  28. Jess Twitchin

    February 29, 2016 at 9:45 pm

    I agree with all that mix and match thing and sewing and revamping. I'm currently banned from buying anything for 6 months as (now I don't travel all the time and am not on such a budget) I began buying for the sake of it and I preferred the old way when I used my imagination to look interesting. As a backpacker I would get so attached to some items it was a sad day when they finally fell to pieces.


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