One of my favourite things about going on vacation is exploring the thrift shops I come across in my travels! You never know what treasures you’ll find while thrift shopping on vacay!

How to Find Thrift Shops on Vacation
Found this Coach crossbody bag for a steal on my most recent stop at a thrift shop on vacation!

Thrift Shopping on Vacay

I dream of doing a cross-country thrift tour dedicated solely to finding the best thrift shops! My family however has different objectives for our vacations so I have to balance my dreams with theirs. Thankfully, they enjoy thrift shopping and are willing to do a few thrift stops wherever we go. Of course, it’s fun to check out the big chain thrift shops on vacation – let me assure you, Goodwill in Houston is vastly different from Goodwill in Austin and world’s apart from Goodwill in Edmonton! But if you only go to Goodwill, you will be missing out on the riches to be found in smaller, local non-profit thrift shops.

How to Find Thrift Shops on Vacation

Sure, if you are an organized person, you can research ahead of time what thrift shops or second hand stores are in the area you’re headed to. I however am not that organized. Packing and getting out the door consumes all my energy and patience! Besides, such Google searches tend to focus on vintage and consignment shops which aren’t the true vacation thrift shop experience I’m looking for! Instead, I do three simple things as I travel to find thrift shops:

Search Thrift Shops on Yelp

I love Yelp for finding anything while traveling. My kids love to search restaurants to try (or not try, if you’re my 8-year-old daughter) and I search for thrift shops near me. Here’s a screen shot from my search this morning:

Thrift Shops on Vacation
Yelp is a great resource for thrift shops.

I find Yelp very user-friendly. I like that Yelp allows you to view search results as a map or list and you can switch back and forth easily. I like that you can easily click on directions to get Siri’s help in guiding you there! I like reading the reviews and being able to filter for “open now.” I like being able to adjust the map and renew the search.

Finding Thrift Shops on Vacation
I even like leaving reviews on Yelp – so long as I do so immediately after leaving the shop, otherwise I never seem to get back to it!

You may need to try a few different search terms: thrift shops, thrift stores, second hand stores, vintage, consignment, resale, antiques. Between these terms, you ought to suss out most thrift shops near you, no matter where you are.

Search Thrift Shops on Your Map App

In a pinch, you can skip Yelp and just search directly in your map app for thrift shops.

Map View of a search for thrift shops
As you can see, this approach yields far fewer results.

I tend to do this either to cross reference the Yelp results or to find thrift stores when cell service is too weak to properly load Yelp.

Ask the Locals Where the Thrift Shops Are

Traveling is better generally when you take time to chat and get know the locals and I have found that most are more than happy to steer me towards the local thrift shop! Many towns are not big enough to have a Goodwill but dollars to donuts there’s a little thrift shop there somewheres. Don’t go thinking that little = crappy. On the contrary, I have found some of the best scores at little thrift shops on vacation…

Ferragamo shoes found at little thrift shops
Such as these Salvatore Ferragamo ballet flats!
J Brand jeans found at little thrift shops
J Brand jeans in California!
 J Brand jeans found amongst little thrift shops in Washington
$4 J Brands in Washington! (and notice the Icebreaker tee!)

You already know what to do once you get to the thrift shop! (Hint, use my 10 Strategies for Success!) When you are all done at the vacation thrift shops, do a fellow thrifter a favour and leave a review on Yelp to help the next search. I also love blogging about thrift shops I visit while traveling – take my latest series on the Austin Thrift Scene as an example. I go in all unassuming and feel like a secret shopper or undercover celebrity (as far as mid-40s second-hand-shopping trophy-wife celebrities go)! When I recently blogged about the best little thrift shop ever, one of the employees happened to read my post and leave a lovely comment! That was the BEST EVER!

Vacation thrift shops can be so much fun
It really is the best!

There was also the time I ran into John Mayer while going to thrift shops on vacation, but I digress. IMHO going to thrift shops on vacation is a million times more fun than going to the outlet malls which I can barely stand. Just in case you are daunted by the thought of thrift shopping on vacation, I hope these simple tips will help you get started and will lead to many great thrifting adventures!

xoxo Nicole

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How to Thrift Shop on Vacation by The Spirited Thrifter


  1. Thank you for the inspiration, I have a holiday planned soon and I just googled op shops around there and found it’s known as the ‘op shop capital’! Yelp isn’t big in Australia so I’ll have to do my own discovery tour. Fingers crossed for a find like your fabulous Ferragamos…

    • nicole

      You are most welcome! I have never been to Australia so I can’t speak from experience, but I wonder if Trip Advisor might have some listings or even just Google ratings? I’ve always wanted to thrift there – have a great time and report back with what you find!!