Since we decided to do so much traveling within our vacation we decided that it would be best to carry backpacks instead of regular luggage.  We went to our local REI and the gentleman that helped us was so amazing and knowledgeable.  He helped us pick out the REI Grand Tour backpacks that are made for city travel vs. normal backpacking in the outdoors.  The different features on these are that they zip open like luggage so you can get to your clothes more easily.  They have lockable zippers so you don’t have to worry about pick pockets and the torso adjusts for the perfect fit.  He helped us try them on and even put some weight in them so we could see how they would feel when they were filled with our clothes. These backpacks are $189 each.  I’m going to tell you now how we got both for $110.

First, we signed up for the REI membership. It is a one time fee of $20 for the lifetime membership.  This membership gets you into the REI garage sales.  They hold these sales a couple of times a year and it is serious discounts on returned, lightly used and discontinued merchandise.

Second go to the Garage sale.  Show up early.  When I went it was raining and there was a huge line around the back of the building where the product for sale was all set up under easy ups and tents. They let us choose a wrist band color and then they drew at random the order that those colors would be allowed to shop.  Each group gets 15 minutes to shop the sale and then they are cleared out and the next group is let in.  (Each location does this differently so ask before the sale if they do a lottery like the one I went to or if it is first come first serve.)  Tricks and Tips: go with a group of friends and each of you get different color bands so that way you will have more of a chance of having someone in the first or second group.  Also if you know what you’re there for go for it first.  I lucked out and was in the second group in.  There in the rain was the woman’s grand tour bag.  It was lightly used but it had its day pack and its rain cover.  And it was only $69.

Third once you’re a member you have the opportunity to sign up for the REI MasterCard.  I know, who needs another credit card!  But with this card there was a promotion we couldn’t pass up.  After your first purchase of anything…(Starbucks, a sandwich, ANYTHING) you will receive a $100 REI gift card.  This was no joke.  We both signed up and we both got the $100 gift cards and that paid for the men’s grand tour bag. So with the price of our memberships and my bag we got both for $110.

Now if I haven’t sold you on REI yet with their amazing customer service, knowledge and sales let me add this last incentive.  They have a 1 year return policy!  If you buy a backpack, go on your trip and decide it was awful and you never want to do it again you can return it.  I doubt that you’ll hate it since they take such time and care with each customer to ensure that you are getting the proper gear but just in case that safety net is there.



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