How to Support Local on your Vacation

Support local on holidays poster with car overloaded with luggage and travel items

Whether planning a staycation or travelling abroad, it’s worth supporting local businesses in the communities you travel to. Some local businesses may have unique and artisanal souvenirs, or traditional food from recipes passed down through generations. And it’s just a great way to support the local economy. 

sunset through airplane window support local

But how exactly can your contributions to small local businesses help the local economy of the community you’re visiting?

For one, more of your purchase dollars are retained locally and go towards supporting the business owners’ families. Secondly, it helps strengthen the local supply chain. And it reduces your carbon footprint during your travels too. We’ll touch on this a bit more later.

You can check out our short explainer video for an overview of all the benefits of supporting local here.

All this social good and you’re getting a real local experience as well—that’s a whole lot of wins!

Alright, then! Let’s dive into some fun ways to support local on your holidays!

1. Support Local Grocery Stores and Restaurants

Will you need to prep food in your B&B or camper? Why not pick up your groceries from local farmer’s markets? By the way, here’s a handy link if you’re looking for farmer’s markets for your Nova Scotia holidays.

You can also choose to dine at small indie restaurants when possible. While shopping at big chains such as McDonald’s or Walmart might be tempting, you’re supporting a large enterprise more than the local community and its people. An added bonus: many small independent local restaurants make a point of sourcing local fresh in-season food from other small indie businesses!

Dinner plate on table at small indie restaurant support local

A great example of this is 2 Doors Down in Halifax. They’re a local restaurant in the heart of downtown, and they pride themselves on freshly sourced ingredients. You know you’re getting a taste of the local culture there because this restaurant works closely with Nova Scotia farmers and artisan food producers. Your food will taste unique and genuine to the community, and you’re supporting local citizens rather than large enterprises.

You can also support local wineries and breweries. 2 Crows Brewing Co. is another great example of an excellent local business to support. Located in Halifax, they value activism in the work they do. Their local activism contributions include: raising funds for charities, volunteering, and supporting local initiatives to make the brewing industry more inclusive in Halifax and beyond. It’s a real taste of local—while supporting local too!

2. Stay Local

When you support local businesses, this also means that you’re supporting the local economy where you’re staying. Many local families run lovely inns and often prioritize sourcing food locally. It makes for a cozy experience and supports the town or city you’re visiting. Because these local inns usually buy produce and resources from local farmers and stores, your stay funnels profits back into the local supply chain. So the whole community benefits when you “Stay Local”!

Main Street Café in Antigonish is a great example of exactly this kind of place to stay. Not only is the inn locally owned, but the café sources all its food from local farmers and food producers, as well.

3. Local Souvenirs from Small Businesses and Makers

Lighthouse souvenirs on wooden shelf with ocean art and ship rope support local

Markets are great for finding inexpensive, beautiful, and unique souvenirs from local makers. For example, the Sunday Market in Halifax is a great place to go looking. It’s open every Sunday from 9 am to 2 pm, and admissions are only $2! You can find anything from food, jewelry, clothes, collectibles, and antiques. One of the oldest and largest flea markets in the Maritimes, you’re sure to find something special!

Otherwise, you can find souvenirs from local businesses and artisans, like Made in the Maritimes. This is a gift and souvenir shop located in Halifax, and they sell cards, candles, woodwork, ceramics, and other pieces, all sourced from local artisans.

And if you’re looking for Nova Scotia souvenirs or local gifts, check out our Local Gifts Providers, where you can find lots of interesting creations unique to the area.

4. Support Local Art 

Love art? Why not check out local artists and galleries to decorate your home with local art from your travels?

Local art gallery support local

Argyle Fine Art and The Dart Gallery are two cool small local examples in downtown Halifax and Dartmouth respectively. It’s really important to support local artists where you can during your travels. Local artists usually draw inspiration from the community they live in, so by supporting their art, you’re also supporting a more diverse and creative community wherever you visit. 

If you’re visiting places at home or abroad, you should also try and support local Indigenous artists and artisans. Indigenous art is so incredibly enriching. And it’s a great way to show your appreciation for and support of Indigenous communities while you travel—whether through buying their art or attending Indigenous art galleries, exhibits, and events.

5. Attend Local Events and Festivals

Check out what’s on offer when you’re on your holidays! Local music festivals are fun and a wonderful way to support local creatives. Usually, these festivals will feature music from the region that you’re visiting, and will sell merchandise and food and drink that are local as well!

Small & Local Blog Updated Things to Do in NS Featured image

Not only will you have lots of fun, but you’ll also get to experience new music that you might never have heard before! It’s a nice way to immerse yourself in the creative landscape of the communities you visit. And on your next staycation (or visit) in Nova Scotia, check out our Local Events blog here. We keep updating it, so do keep checking back for the latest fun things to do in Canada’s Ocean Playground!

Attending events like art galleries, music festivals, or craft fairs is just a great way to support the local community that you’re visiting. You’ll get to support local creatives and entrepreneurs, all while enjoying the endlessly colourful culture and experiences that each place you visit has to offer.

Supporting local for a greener vacay

As if that awesomeness all wasn’t enough, when you support local on your vacation, you’re also helping create a greener world! It helps counter all the fuel you’ve had to use to get to your vacation spot. So, supporting local businesses means that you’re lowering your holiday carbon footprint during your stay. How cool is that?


Great! We’d love to hear all about your own experiences with cool small local businesses you’ve discovered and supported in your travels—in Nova Scotia or elsewhere! Feel free to share them in the comments!

Note: Written in collaboration with Student Contributor, Emma Zhao

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