Even savvy travellers often goof up on shopping in a foreign land. Too many make expensive mistakes. Quite a few fall into tourist traps. Some fret so much that they forget to have fun.
Here is some wise advice from Shubhra Krishan to help you get much more bang for your buck while shopping.
1. Shop the flea markets, especially in the pricier countries. These open-air markets are very colourful, boast lots of local flavour, and most importantly, allow you to scout for rare treasures without burning a hole in your pocket.
2. Do get into the discount sections of big stores such as H&M. You’re sure to get good quality stuff for attractive prices.
3. Before you leave home, do some research on what souvenirs and local goods you should be buying. One of our team-mates lugged back a big bag of gleaming round whole red chilies from the Middle East, thinking they were special; only to be told that they’re available by the sack full—and much cheaper—in Chandni Chowk!
4. Remember, it’s not about the price tag. Ask yourself how well that chic jacket fits you, or whether your friend will really appreciate the jazzy-looking tee you’re going to buy. When it comes to shopping abroad, don’t be afraid to second guess yourself.
5. On the other hand, it’s not a good idea to leave something you really, really like, in the hope of finding a better, cheaper version of it later. If it is beautiful, useful and affordable, just take it, or you may not find it again!
6. Resist going overboard. Every now and then, think back to the suitcases in your room, and how much space you have left. Are they straining at the seams? If yes, do you have another bag? If you buy another one, will you be within your baggage limits at the airport? Sigh. Practical nuisances, but important, too.
7. This might seem obvious, but shop where the locals do. Too many of us still walk into tourist traps and end up paying way more than fair. If you can chat up a local and ask them to point you to the right store/market for what you need, nothing like it. If not, just keep your eyes open for where you see a lot of them, and follow their lead!
8. If you’re fond of spices, herbs and other fancy kitchen goodies, avoid the big supermarkets and explore the grocery stores. They often have the same things for much lower prices.
9. Almost every big city in the world has factory outlets located on the outskirts. In New York, it’s Woodbury Commons. In Edinburgh it’s the Stirling Mills complex. Bonus: you can enjoy these as day trips, sampling local food and walking the pleasant, spacious courtyards.
10. Retain your receipts, and once you get back to your hotel, take stock of your day’s shopping. If something doesn’t fit or feel as appealing, you can go back to the store next morning, rather than staring helplessly at your folly back home.