One of the greatest pleasures for many travelers is shopping. It’s fun to see the different products that are available in each destination and to compare prices on items that we can also get at home. I also like looking at the names of products. In a store window was “Man’s No Fall More” hair loss prevention product, a name that didn’t translate quite correctly in English.
In Hong Kong, Starbucks coffee was priced much higher than in the U.S., but McDonald’s super value meals were at a really super price compared to home (about $2 US for a Big Mac meal). Cashmere was priced great, while Coach bags were higher. It definitely pays to do the research before buying to see what your visiting country’s specialties are (and have a calculator!).
Some of my Top Travel Shopping Tips are:
- Take an empty bag, or even pack multiple empty bags within a bag, and pack light
- Take comfortable shoes to make sure your can cope with hours on your feet
- Make a list of must-get purchases before you head out
- Research the best shops at your destination
- Learn some basic shopping phrases in the local language like “how much is that?” etc.
- Understand the customs in different countries, bargaining could be part of the fun in one country, but a big no-no in others
- Carry a calculator, or make yourself up a simple currency table with the current rate for easy converting.
- Always make sure you know the latest exchange rates
- Be aware of your airline’s weight limit for checked luggage if you’ve found yourself over indulging.
- Investigate shipping costs back to your home as this can often be much cheaper than excess baggage costs on airlines
- Investigate any importing restrictions
- Different countries use different size measurements (e.g., for shoes), so know in advance your measurements and how they translate
Also, Travel & Leisure magazine has a list of the World’s Top Outlet Stores – definitely check this out!
I’m glad my husband was with me during our shopping expeditions. At the Ladies’ Market in Hong Kong, bargaining is the norm. He’s a much better bargainer than I am. I’ll offer a lower price and then give in to their counteroffer immediately. He’ll continue to bargain and is willing to walk away if he doesn’t get the price he feels is fair for the item.
Bargaining can be a sport for many, but it’s not a game that I’m comfortable playing. I’d love to hear your thoughts on favorite shopping destinations, bargaining hints and fun buys in the comments below!
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