Travel to Flea Checklist

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Jun 21, 2017

Have you ever dreamed of traveling to visit flea markets…anywhere?

If so, then here is a list of considerations to make sure that you have the smoothest possible, most pleasantly memorable experience.

  1. What is your purpose?
    • This discussion focuses on traveling to experience foreign flea markets.
  2. Where do you want to go?
    • Domestic or international?
    • Large tourist area or the road less traveled?
  3. What are your expectations?
    • Find items to bring home and resell or keep for yourself?
    • Experience new cultures?
    • Food?
    • The overall travel experience?
    • All of the above?
    • Remain flexible. If traveling to purchase specific items, you may be disappointed if you don’t find them. Weather can also affect whether if a flea market is even open. Be prepared with alternate plans. Embrace the experience!
  4. What is your budget?  Consider all of the following as basic expenses.
    • Travel cost
      • Flight
      • Transportation upon arrival and throughout trip if not navigating on foot.
    • Lodging
      • Choose your level of comfort and service and budget accordingly.
    • Food
      • Consider which meals you will eat out and which meals you will prepare yourself. Don’t forget to include snacks and “beverages” along the way!
      • Local grocery stores are one of my favorite places to shop for not only food to eat while traveling, but also for souvenirs. Travel tip: Spend some time in the local grocery store observing the local people. Watch what they buy and buy the same. It is usually the best!
    • Purchases for resale
      • If you plan on picking up items to resell on eBay or other sites, plan your budget to include the cost of the item, plus any extra baggage costs you may incur if you need to bring home an extra bag!
    • Souvenirs
      • From small trinkets to large tchotckes, anticipate what might pique your interest to remember your journey. Travel tip: If you see something that makes your heart sing, buy it (within reason of course). You will regret it later if you don’t! Trust me…personal experience. You can always figure out how to get it home.
      • I love to pick up a fabric market bag on my European travels. They are just about everywhere. There purchase and use will save you the expense of having to purchase a bag for your purchases. As well, they provide a fun reminder of your trip long after you have returned home. They are relatively inexpensive (usually around 1-2 euros) and are a great way to recycle.
    • Side tours  
      • Hop On- Hop Off bus tours. I love this option for larger cities. I often will purchase a several-day pass and use it for transportation around the city. It makes a great arrival day activity to wind down from a day of travel, listen and learn about the city and get a lay of the land, identifying places that you will want to revisit on subsequent days. Use the multiple day pass to get to and from your selected spots and return you to your original departure stop.It also offers a welcome respite to wearing tourist feet while still continuing the journey. Do a search before travel to inquire about availability at your destination.
      • There may be many opportunities for you to explore local cuisine, gastronomy or sites via tours. These may be on foot, by boat, bus or car. Consider any of them that may fit your interests and enhance your experience. Suggestions may be: breweries; wineries; famous buildings or architecture; water views, museums etc.
      • Search Rick Steve’s recommended tour guides. These personalized, vetted and excellent resources offer local expertise. Don’t forget to tip if you had a great experience. A nominal tip is highly appreciated and does not have to be the 15% that we are accustomed to in the US.
    • Currency
      • Make yourself aware of local currency at your destination. If an EU country, it is the euro. England is the pound. Denmark is the crown.
      • Choose whether to exchange your travel money before or after your arrival. There will be transaction fees associated with this process.
      • I use ATMs inside banks or large grocery stores upon arrival, for local cash withdrawals. I use my cards that do not charge an international transaction fee, to save. I do not ever use stand alone ATMs. Though they may be safe, I don’t take the risk.
  5. Where do I begin?
    • Make sure that your passport is current and will not expire within 6 months of your return date.
    • Do your homework!
      • Educate yourself on the region, the culture, related items that you may be able to flip once you get home. Learn as much as you can through internet searches before you go.
      • Learn from the locals. Keep your eyes, ears and mind open to all that your host can offer. They know the region and you can learn A LOT by asking before you go and once you get there. Take their recommendations. You will likely enjoy experiences that you didn’t even realize exist.
    • Google flea markets at your chosen destination. This will determine travel dates.
    • Choosing your destination
      • Consider routes with direct flights for your first journey. If changing planes in foreign airports seems a bit overwhelming on your first adventure, choose a destination that you can reach via a direct flight. Really though, changing planes in international airports isn’t difficult. English is the international language and most people speak English to assist in your navigation. Just make sure you leave enough time between flights to connect!
      • Select a destination that offers something familiar and/or of interest to you. If the thought of seeing a certain sight or obtaining a local momento that you know can be found in a certain market…those things that make your heart sing…go there!
    • Search for lowest airfare. Use Google Flights for best airfares. You can also use your preferred airline and set up a watch for your destination and dates. I subscribe to Scott’s Cheap Flights and get frequent updates for low fares. You can set up a watch list with this service and identify your departure and destination airports. They will email you whenever there is a cheap flight that matches.
    • Lodging – accommodations
      • B&Bs –  This option offers you the most cultural experience. Typically lodging, a generous breakfast and local travel knowledge is included. I stay in B&Bs often and love the local information that I get from the host, whether it be local customs, best places to eat, see, or where the best kept flea market or resale experiences are in the area. If in Amsterdam, I highly recommend:
      • – I love this site. It is a very relaxing and budget-friendly alternative to stuffy hotels. Accommodations are often entire apartments or houses and this experience really allows for the most relaxing experience. You can choose between city center or country living. This option also offers you the convenience of preparing a couple of meals a day within your own house and saving on overall food budet. One meal out per day is plenty to get a flair of local cuisine.
      •  – This option allows for a huge variety of accommodations. You can find lodging in just about any city, anywhere. From renting a single room in someone’s apartment or home (including the living room couch), to renting an entire home. Visit the site and explore the possibilities. If you are looking to travel cheap, this is a great place to begin your search.
      • Hostels –  is a great place for both solo and group travelers to stay on the cheap. Typically bare bones accommodations for those traveling light. Cohabitation in shared quarters is common.
      • Friends! – Network with family and friends and let them know where you are going. Chances are that they may be able to recommend a local family for you to stay with. Free lodging is always the best and you grow your international network of friends exponentially. It is the first step to reciprocal international guests.
    • Getting around upon arrival
      • Your transportation to/from the airport will depend on your destination. Some B&Bs offer airport pick up. Some destinations offer Uber, however, it is much less common in Europe. Taxi’s are always an option, but probably the most expensive. Search for shuttle bus or local delivery services. In Amsterdam, I love Tinker. You can arrange and pay for airport transportation prior to your trip. I have found that personal car service to be relatively inexpensive, very reliable and great communicators.
      • You may elect to rent a car in Europe. Beware of local laws, very narrow roads in most places and pedestrian zones! Many European cities have pedestrian only restricted areas. You will be the recipient of a mailbox full of tickets upon your return home if you violate traffic laws abroad. Electronic cameras…both visible and hidden…are common and you won’t know that you have violated a law until you get the ticket.
      • I prefer to leave the driving to others so that I can take in the scenes!
    • Search for “Free Tours” in the area where you will be traveling. In many of the larger cities like Paris, Amsterdam, Munich, you can book a free walking tour. I’ve done this several times and enjoyed the enthusiasm and expertise of the local experts. Travel tip: I always pack a few of my hometown souvenirs in my travel bag to give to the tour guide, along with a tip.
    • Start saving!  Once you have a general idea of what you will need, set aside a designated amount per week/month to hit your budget goal.
    • Communication  
      • Learn a few essential phases in the local language: Hello; please; thank you; toilet; help; and my favorite, “I speak English. Do you?”. Once you indicate that you will try the local language, most people will either begin speaking English with you or use hand gestures to communicate. This is especially true at flea markets. Use your fingers to make offers and/or write down your offer. Numbers are the same in European countries!
    • Medical needs
      • Make sure that you take all of your prescribed and over the counter medications with you…plus extras! I had to extend a trip to Germany one time due to volcanic ash clouds over Iceland. I was really glad to have taken more medications than an exact amount to cover my itinerary.
      • Prepare for seasonal allergies. If you, like me, are prone to seasonal allergies, make sure that you are aware of allergens at your destination. I was unaware of the high pollen season in a recent trip to Italy and was really glad that I came prepared with every allergy medicine that I take! I used every single one of them, every day, so as not to be miserable during my trip.
      • Carry a card with medical information with you at all time. You never know when an emergency will arise and someone will need access to your medical history.
    • What to pack
      • Travel light! Pack your bags and then take 1/2 of the stuff out!
      • You will be bringing home much more than you go with so make allowances for these items in your bags.
      • Take one pair of comfortable walking shoes. You do not need to take a pair of shoes to match each outfit! It is a waste of good suitcase space! Buy one pair of good shoes and take those…just make sure you break them in before you go. You will do a LOT of walking in Europe. Do not take a new pair of shoes! Take band aids, just in case!
      • Google photos of people in your destination city prior to departure and make note of what the locals wear. In the US we live in blue jeans. This may not be the best choice of a staple pant for you in Europe. And…denim is heavy in your suitcase!
      • Business cards
        • Yes, business cards. People do still use them. It is a great way to leave your contact information for future communications with your new friends and colleagues.
        • Plan to network, network, network! You will be meeting a lot of new people who may some day become a guest in your home. Your friendliness on the international road could turn into an important business associate.
      • Charger cords for electronic devices
      • Electric outlet adapter/s
        • These can be found very reasonably (under $10) on eBay or Amazon. Choose a light weight one that also acts as a currency converter. Remember that most voltage in Europe is 220 vs the 110 in the US. You will fry your appliance without the voltage converter!
      • Camera – If you are taking a cell phone (and who isn’t) the camera on your phone is likely perfect for all of your trip photos and videos. If you are professional photographer, consider the weight of extra camera equipment.
      • Save all receipts. If you are traveling for business, ie eBay business, etc, you will need all receipts to deduct your trip on your taxes!
    • Common sense tips: Be respectful. Be open to new tastes, new customs and local cultures.

While not exhaustive, this gives you a pretty good idea of how to plan for a trip. It may sound daunting, but don’t get overwhelmed. Start with your dream and take one step at a time to make that dream a reality. Above all, have fun. Embrace the journey. Savor the memories.

Happy travels.