The Multifaceted Benefits of Shopping Local 

Traveling gives us the opportunity to immerse ourselves in new cultures and explore unfamiliar destinations — yet there’s more we can do to ensure our itineraries go beyond tourism and help promote local economies and artisans. Shopping locally — that is, purchasing products and services from family-owned businesses — is an easy and meaningful way to make a positive impact on the environment and communities around us. 

Whether it’s a handcrafted knick-knack from a neighborhood shop, a meal or workshop from a local restaurant, or a one-of-a-kind experience, there are numerous benefits to shopping local which include:

• Economic advantages
• Social engagement
• Environmentally Friendly

While “buy local” is a frequent mantra abroad, shopping local during your travels doesn’t have to be a cumbersome task. This guide will cover the ‘how-to’ of supporting local economies and artisans while abroad, ensuring that your journey is not just memorable — but responsible, as well.

Why It’s Important to Support Local Businesses and Artisans 

Shopping locally is far more than an ethical statement, it’s an investment in local economies. The money you spend abroad remains county, spurring growth and development in all the communities you visit. It also provides job opportunities for locals, fostering intercultural understanding and promoting local cultures for generations to come. With fresh perspectives, shared knowledge, and great relationships, it’s no wonder that shopping local will open new channels of creativity and innovation.

Levels of Local Tourism 

There are many levels to consider when wishing to shop local on travels.

  1. Inspiration Shopping: Rewarding yourself with thoughtful, locally made items (e.g souvenirs)
  2. Fully Experienced Shopping: Attending artisan workshops, dining in family-run restaurants, etc.
  3. Sustainable Shopping: Purchasing items with recycled, upcycled, or traditionally made materials

How to Support Local Economies and Artisans 

Though it may not always be easy to find, there are several ways to find local shops and artisans while abroad.

Research before You Go 

It’s easy to get swept away in the charm of visiting a new place — yet that same eagerness can lead to overspending on mundane souvenirs and overpriced tourist items. It’s best to research ahead of time, so you can make the most of your journey and find authentic, local finds. For example:

• Visit travel websites like Travel + Leisure to find local favorites.
• Utilize a site like Etsy to link with artisans online.
• Connect with other travelers in a private Facebook Group for recommendations.

Even better, dedicate a day of travel to discovering local hotspots from street to street and store to store.

Once You’re There: Find the Locals 

From farmers markets to artisan boutiques, getting to know your destination starts with seeing firsthand where and by whom products are made. Get to know the artisans and local entrepreneurs in your area to get insight into their motivations and why they do what they do. This can include adding a guided tour or short exhibition hosted by a local, or checking to see if the shops are accredited by local government, granting you the assurance that your purchases are being directed back into the local economy.

Speaking of which:

Choose Fair-Trade Businesses 

Opting to shop where your money is going towards the funding of education, paying fair wages, and providing safe working conditions is a sure way to make sure that your hard-earned dollars are directed back into the community.

Money Matters 

The exchange rate, currency, and how you pay for goods can factor into how much you are spending, and how much money remains in the community. For starters, cash is always king when it comes to shopping local — credit card surcharges and currency conversions can jack up the price, while cash payments give the shopkeeper more of your hard-earned money, allowing them to further reinvest in their business. At the same time, be sure to convert your currency responsibly. Currency conversion kiosks and ATMs can be an easy choice, yet oftentimes the most expensive. On the other hand, local money changers offer more competitive rates, but may lack quality control. Studies have also found that when locals are aware of your background, they may be more likely to up their prices for out-of-towners. To avoid this, be sure to practice your language skills and familiarize yourself with local customs and the like.

Support the Unseen: Beyond Shopping

 Beyond shopping, there are numerous other ways to support local businesses and artisans while traveling. You can give donations to charity organizations, volunteer your time and skills, and even become part of cultural exchanges or workshops. You can thank shopkeepers and merchants for wonderful service, and extend a helping hand to those in need.

7 Tips to Shop Local During Your Travels

  1. Do your research beforehand.
  2. Look beyond well-known shops and tourist traps.
  3. Talk to the locals and pick their brains.
  4. Opt for cash when possible to avoid currency conversion fees and upcharges.
  5. Use local money changers to convert money responsibly.
  6. Take your time to experience the culture and customs.
    7.Support the local community through more than just shopping — offer donations, volunteer work, and more.

Shopping local opens up a world of possibilities — from finding unique items that you won’t find anywhere else, to cementing your impression of a place in the memories of its people. After all: the most meaningful souvenirs aren’t just items — they’re memories and experiences, stories to be shared for years to come. Shopping local during your travels connects you to the culture, the environment, and its people — helping everyone explore, discover, and learn, together.