Travelling and shopping are things that seem to go well hand in hand. This couldn’t be more true, as even some of the first people who traveled the world embarked on journeys that were called “shopping expeditions”. They made these dangerous trips hoping to come back with various exotic items they couldn’t find anywhere in their own countries.
The majority of modern travelers are not much different, and they always get some souvenirs on their trips, so that they can have memories of the trips they made. No matter if you are looking for art, clothes, home décor, or exotic food, shopping abroad for the very first time can be a very challenging task that can cost you a lot of money if you are not careful. Here are some tips that can help you learn how to save money on your travels. They will allow you to come back home with something worth the money you payed for it.
Find sales and discounts
In many places (especially in Europe), sales and discounts happen a few times per year. You can find sales and discounts in Paris for a period of six weeks in total, with one wave starting at the end of June and the other beginning early in January.
Some people’s main reason for traveling is to go shopping somewhere abroad, however, not all people have the same motives for traveling, meaning they won’t plan their entire tour around shopping and sales. Still, checking out schedules before locking in your travel dates will do you no harm. For example, if the discounts or sales end or start in a couple of days of your travel time, you can change your dates slightly to catch them while they are still strong.
You can also shop using vouchers and coupons while you are traveling. There are many international stores that have the same discounts globally, but with the difference that they may have some items available for a cheaper price, or they have a bigger choice of goods you can purchase abroad.
If there aren’t any discount sales at the time of your visit, look through some local papers to find some smaller sales, flea markets, or store closings. Also, make sure that you check out vintage shops as they usually have lower prices for designer clothes.
Buying local specialties
Most of us want to buy something that is truly unique and characteristic to a certain destination. These kinds of items are the best souvenirs that will remind you of your trip in the best possible way. Furthermore, these products may be available in your country as well, since they are well-know, but they will be much cheaper when you buy them from a local vendor, and you’ll avoid all of the taxes, retail markups and middle man costs.
Still, buying local items doesn’t automatically mean that you will save money. For example, if you buy Armani or Versace in Italy, it will probably be just as expensive as anywhere in the world, and maybe even more expensive if you consider the exchange rate. If you are determined to buy something from a famous local brand, do a bit of research to find whether they have some outlet where they have discounted goods or older items that haven’t been sold so that you can get a good price.
It can be very disappointing to find out that you don’t have the space to bring something you really liked back home. Most of the time, it’s possible to ship items you have no space for. Buy them directly from the store using a credit card, so that if the item doesn’t arrive, you get a refund. Still, these kinds of shipments can be very expensive.
Instead of doing this, you should go prepared and take big bags with you so that you can pack up a few souvenirs. I like to travel lightly and take only the absolute necessities with me, so that I can always have room to carry more in case I find something I like. Even if you are not planning on buying anything, you never know what might come up, so make sure that you prepare enough room in advance for those kind of situations.
Learn what your size is and how to ask for it
When you shop for shoes or clothes, it is important to remember that different countries have different sizes. For example an 8.5 US shoe fits the size 6 in the UK and it’s the equivalent of 39 in Europe. You should see how sizes are measured in the places you intend to visit, so that you can explain to the vendors what size number you need.
Of course, if you forgot to do this, you can use your phone to Google the information you need and find out what size of shoes or clothes you need.
There are two ways to spend less
When you find something you like and you think that it will be a great souvenier of your tip, make sure that it fits and that you’ve saved space in your bag, that it’s a local item and that it will always remind you of the place you visited. But, what if it still costs more than you can afford? The best thing you can do is to try and haggle the price down.
Depending on the country and its culture, bargaining may be quite a thing. It’s always good to get to know a bit more about the place you are visiting before you go out shopping. Still, it can never hurt to ask if this is the lowest price you can get. If you are at a tourist location, you can almost always bargain for a better price because vendors like to raise their prices in case some inexperienced travelers come along.
The other way for saving money is to get a VAT refund. Some countries’ visitors have the right to ask for a portion of the taxes they paid on certain goods. To do this, you must check whether that country has these laws and whether that store has policies that apply to these laws.
Just make sure that you carefully look at your options are and check out whether you can find the same goods for lower prices before you make a purchase.