Tuesday, May 31, 2016

5 Ways to Buy Local While You Travel

Five tips for buying local food and products while you travel - great tips for RVers and travelers looking to support local economies - tips from Heidi Raki of RVing with the Rakis

As a family we try to buy locally no matter where we are. This is much easier when we are stable for longer periods of time like we have been in Albuquerque since January. Now that we have hit the road again for the next nine weeks, we have be slightly more creative when trying to support local business and farmers. It’s really easy to slip into buying from big box stores that are convenient, but not always great for the economy or the environment of the places we are visiting. So, how do we buy locally while we’re on the road? Here are a few ways:

1.) Find the local farmer’s markets – Most areas have weekly farmers markets, especially in the summer. A simple google search for “farmer’s markets in (whatever city you're in)” will generally give you a list of markets, as well as times and locations. We also try to stop at roadside stands whenever we see them.

2.) Check Craigslist – Farmers who sell local eggs and local honey often advertise on craigslist. They will often meet you out somewhere or you can pick things up at their location if you’re comfortable with that.

3.) Scour the bulletin boards at local haunts – Small supermarkets, laundry mats and restaurants often have bulletin boards where locals can post small advertisements for goods, services and events. This is especially true in smaller towns. We have used these boards to find eggs for sale, weekly farmer’s markets and even craft fairs.
4.) Ask the locals – I used to watch Rachel Ray’s $40 a Day and one of her biggest tips was always to ask a local where the best restaurants are. This is a tip we have used not only for restaurants, but also for farmer’s markets, things to do, and pretty much anything that we might want or need while we’re in an area. If you want to support local, ask the locals!

5.) Harvest Hosts – This trip we have added a new method of finding local farmers to support. Another fulltime RVer referred us to Harvest Hosts, which is a network of farms and wineries that will allow you to stay a night or two on their property (in your RV) for free. These are mainly dry camping opportunities, but the program allows you to find plenty of farms you would have never found otherwise. The membership fee for the program is only $45 a year and then you are asked to purchase something at each farm you stay at, which is kind of the point for us. Our first Harvest Host stay was at an alpaca farm and it was so cool that it deserves its own blog post, so come back in a few days and I’ll post pictures and a description of that fun night!

Do you have any tricks for buying local while you’re traveling? I’d love it if you shared your tips in the comments. It’s great when we all learn from each other!