Part of the fun of going on a vacation is taking in the local shops. Instead of browsing the expensive boutiques on your next trip out of town, why not visit local garage sales instead? Shopping yard sales out of town can be a harrowing experience if not properly planned, so make sure to follow these tips in order to have a great visitors' saling trip.
Above all, be sure you have an accurate map! Navigating through strange neighborhoods can be stressful, even if you have a good sense of direction, and if you have a second person in the car, things can get very tense very quickly. So, in order to avoid all of the confusion, obtain a map (perhaps from a local gas station?) that shows the streets in the area, and mark where you plan to attend or find sales. Keep this map handy as you peruse the streets, and always stay up to date on where you are in relation to the map.
Look ahead of time for sales in the area by using resources such as Garage Sale Cow or craigslist, and make sure to mark them in the proper locations on your map. If you don't have the map before you leave town, write down the addresses and directions (or print them from a resource such as Google Maps or MapQuest) to mark them later. You can go with pre-printed directions if there are some sales you'd really like to hit up, but otherwise, you can just use these as a rough guideline for areas you'd like to visit.
Read up, via some local bloggers, about the area's culture before you just barge in and start bartering like crazy. Some places are more laid-back, while others will be at your throat if you don't stand firm on your offers. Some residents will grow hostile if you ask to use the bathroom, while others will invite you in for a barbecue dinner. Get to know your destination before you just head there; it'll be of great use to you in dealing with strange hosts.
Don't buy items that are too big to haul back; calculate how much space you have and take it from there. If you are absolutely desperate to buy a large item, you can always rent a UHaul trailer, but remember that the price of renting the trailer needs to be balanced out by how much you save on that item. Additionally, you may not want to purchase a ton of fragile items, because transporting them without breaking them could be next to impossible.
When you arrive, ask residents about good garage saling areas. You can ask gas station attendants, but someone on the street is just as likely to know. Find the local library and stop in; librarians often have lots of information you might be surprised by.
Go during the right time of year, no matter where you go. Figure out when the most sales are held there and choose that time if you're taking a garage saling-specific trip -- otherwise you could be stuck wandering unfamiliar neighborhoods for hours with no luck!
Need help locating some out-of-town garage sales? Check out GarageSaleCow.com, the nation's biggest garage sale website and a great free resource for you!