We believe some of the best things in life are free (or very cheap) when it comes to travel and experiencing a new destination. If you know where to look, what to book and a few budgeting tricks, being prepared with some key tips can afford you the chance to find free things to do, and soak up local culture at extremely affordable prices.
Are you thinking about Christmas shopping yet or maybe you’re just a classic shopaholic? Whichever you may be, it goes without saying that everyone loves a bargain! Read on for our pick of the three shopping destinations that won’t break the bank.
London doesn’t have to be expensive or just about shopping in its infamous luxury department stores. London is a fantastic melting pot of people, trends, traditions and culture. Don’t worry if King’s Road and its designer price tags send shivers down your spine because the city has many fantastic markets and vintage shops that are ideal for those who like something unique at an affordable price. Here are a few to get you started:
Alfies Antique Market, London’s largest indoor market, is a treasure trove of antique and vintage clothes. With over 600 stalls, you may be there a while, grab some lunch at the fantastic rooftop café to keep your shopping stamina up!
Brick Lane Market, sprawled across several streets in the Brick Lane area, you’ll find pretty much everything here; From vintage gems to High-Street trends and from exotic foods to classic pie and chips, bask in the colourful atmosphere and just go with it! Make like a local and visit on a Sunday if you can, as this the best day to visit the market.
Camden Lock Market, with more than 100 shops and stalls, offering quirky and often cheap goods, this is definitely a must-do for bargain-hunters. Camden Lock is eccentric, a little bit rough around the edges and a lot of fun!
Old Spitalfields Market, offering up a different vibe to Camden entirely, here is where the hipsters shop. This increasingly popular indoor market, sells everything from food to artwork. Located in Shoreditch, this once abandoned area is now thriving with kooky shops, trendy bars and clubs that stay open until dawn.
With seven HI hostels in London to choose from, you can take your pick of comfortable and affordable accommodation and put those extra pennies saved towards even more shopping!
Tokyo offers a unique shopping experience and an even more unique city experience. Tokyo is many things; a hubbub of noise, flashing lights, kimonos, fashion-crazy crowds, robots and a surreal night-life. With all its fanciful mayhem Tokyo is ideal for those wishing to purchase something a little bit different and it is possible to pick up a bargain, you just have to know where to go:
100 yen shops sell lots of everyday items that make popular souvenirs such as chopsticks, sake cups, stationery, home decorations and other items, at an affordable 105 yen per item (100 yen plus 5 yen tax). 100 yen shops can be found all over Tokyo with one of the largest located on Takeshita Dori in Harajuku.
Harajuku has a split personality; one half is Omotesando, known as Tokyo’s Champs-Elysees and is full of up-scale boutiques. In stark contrast, Harajuku’s eccentric other half is, Takeshita Dori, the centre of youth fashion and an explosion of culture found along a narrow street crammed with shops and cafes targeting the younger, teenage crowd.
Lose yourself in consumer madness and book a stay at one of our HI hostels in the city centre.
We couldn’t leave this one out! New York is the ultimate shopping destination and a city like no other. An iconic adventure playground that invites you to get lost along its many avenues, New York, has something for everyone. Popular TV shows such as Sex and the City and Gossip Girl highlight the decadent, high-end side of NYC. Do you have a love of shopping to rival Carrie’s? You may not have her limitless budget but that shouldn’t stop you from shopping ‘til you drop!
St Mark’s Place – Head to the trendy East Village and stop at St Marks Place, located between Third Avenue and Avenue A on Eighth Street. In this little pocket of New York, you will find a wide array of cheap goods, from used books to funky jewellery. The atmosphere changes block by block here, revel in the diversity, try delicious street food and nab some bargains along the way!
Century 21 – Make the most of generous discounts at one of New York’s largest designer outlets. Located on 22 Cortlandt Street between Broadway and Church Street, this store is huge and means serious business; prepare to spend several hours rooting through its many rails. Time spent here is certainly worth it with discounts of up to 75% on designer brands such as Gaultier and astounding cheap deals on less extravagant labels.
Brooklyn – Hop on a train to Brooklyn, where the streets are wider and the prices are often lower. The trendy Williamsburg neighbourhood is packed with cheap vintage shops that offer amazing items at very favourable prices. If you find yourself in Brooklyn over the weekend, don’t miss the Brooklyn Flea Market; eclectic and full of cheap and one-of-a-kind finds, such as vintage decor, clothing, food and handmade jewellery.
Thinking of taking a bite of the Big Apple? Book a stay at HI New York City – Manhattan, a premier hostel in a superb location on the Upper West Side.