Many travellers get to know their destinations by visiting museums and tourist attractions. Adventurous ones enrich their knowledge by visiting the destination’s natural wonders, going out to remote areas, interacting with locals, and immersing themselves in the culture. But for shopaholics, there’s no better way to enjoy their visit than getting the best holiday deals by digging through handcrafted goods of local artisans, negotiating prices with merchants in bazaars, or sampling culinary delights in street-side food stalls.
Engaging in a shopping spree in a foreign destination is an exciting and rewarding adventure. If you intend to splurge on your vacation, then check out these savvy tips to avoid the pitfalls.
Shopping Advice for the Traveller
* Travel light. You don’t want to carry all that extra weight while hunting for bargains, do you? A backpack, a change of clothes, your purse, a bottle of water, and, for ladies, a simple makeup kit are all you need. Leave other stuff in your hotel room.
* Travel comfortably. Wear comfortable shoes or flip-flops as you’ll be walking around for quite a while. A soft, comfy shirt and a pair of shorts or jeans would do just fine in a day-long shopping expedition. But if you’re visiting a foreign country, it’s best to wear something casual. Don’t forget to bring a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses if you intend to shop in open-air markets; the sun can be quite hot and glaring out there.
* Bring cash. Many of the best bargain shopping destinations do not accept credit cards. Thus, to avoid missing out a great bargain, bring some cash with you.
* Learn a bit of local language. Simple introductory words such as “hello,” “how much,” “I’ll pay (fill in the amount),” “cheap,” “too expensive,” and “just right” spoken in the dialect can do wonders.
* Buy genuine local products. There’s no point in buying goodies that are readily available in your home country; you might as well shop in your own country. But how do you know if you’re getting a good deal on that beautiful art nouveau painting that you saw in the Czech Republic ? Or how can you determine if that Japanese kimono is genuine? Simple: research. Window shopping is fun, but if you are aiming for a major purchase for a good bargain, then you need to do your homework before you even go shopping. Know what qualities in the item should you be looking for, the price range of the item, and even the scams that you should be aware of.
* If possible, ask for documentation such as authenticity and appraisal certificates. This is especially true if you are buying jewellery or artworks.
* Compare prices before buying an item. Visit other shops that sell the same item or something similar rather than purchasing the first thing that catches your attention. Who knows? You might get a better deal.
* Use your bargaining skills. In many cases, the prices of the displayed goods are at least three times the real market value of the goods. However, remember that in striking a bargain, your aim is not to bankrupt the merchant. Your objective is to get to a price that is agreeable to both you and the seller.
* Check airport and customs regulations. It is very inconvenient and disheartening that what you bought aboard cannot be brought home due to customs regulations and restrictions. Thus, before you even go to the city’s bazaar, check the airlines’ and customs’ rules and regulations (including baggage weight allowances) regarding shipping items abroad.
Be one of the smart holiday shoppers and indulge in a shopping fever in another part of the world now.